Tired of living in a dirt house? You should be. Dirt/cobblestone houses in minecraft are the leading cause of premature puppy deaths. You don’t want to be a puppy killer do you?
My hope in writing this guide is that it will give you the motivation and some basic know how to build better buildings in minecraft. We want this server to be a shining example of what minecraft can be. Better buildings not only make the game more fun and interesting to play on, but it also helps attract other people to the server which potentially brings more donations keeping the server up and running for longer. There are many other guides out there on the interwebs about how to build better looking things in minecraft, and I highly recommend you check some of them out. Making nicer buildings may take some time and practice, but there is no better time to start than now.
What not to do:
In order to build more aesthetically pleasing buildings you first need to know what makes a building ugly. We can all look at a building and know it’s ugly, but what specifically makes the building ugly?
1) No variety in building materials. It doesn’t matter if you have the nicest looking texture pack out there, a building made entirely of 1 or 2 materials is going to be ugly. Give your eyes something new to look at.
2) Too much variety. Just because I said you should use a variety of materials doesn’t mean you should try to use every material. Pick a building style and stick with it (more on this below). If you are already using red wool and netherbrick in your building, you don’t need regular bricks.
3) Not enough shape. Minecraft is a cube world but that doesn’t mean you have to make every building square or rectangle shaped. Make several intersecting rectangles or even better add some circles, diagonals, arches, and curves to your structures.
4) No depth. Adding depth is arguably the easiest way to make an interesting looking building in minecraft. A flat wall is boring, nuff said.
5) No interior or landscaping. Even if you build a fantastic building it will still look boring if placed on a flat grass plot. The same goes for the interior. Add furniture, paintings, rugs, plants, and whatever else you want. Try to give each room a purpose. The same goes for the exterior, make some walking paths, plant a tree or some flowers, maybe a small water feature or a beach umbrella with some chairs. All these little details are what is going to make your building really stand out.
Repeat after me: I will not build flat, square structures!
Now that you have an idea of the things you should avoid doing, let’s talk about the things that you should be doing in order to make nicer looking buildings.
Pick a style:
One of the first things you need to consider before starting your building is what style it is going to be. Do you want your building to be medieval or modern? Do you like colonials or chateaus? While every style is possible in minecraft, some are easier than others. Medieval structures are easy to build in minecraft because the materials for medieval buildings are easy to get in survival. Try picking a style you enjoy and stick with it for a while.
After you have picked a style, start thinking about what materials work with that style. If you are going for a medieval town, use logs, stone, stone bricks, wooden planks, torches, and so on. If you are going for a modern beach home style, use sandstone, white wool, glass, wood, and glowstone. Try to vary the materials or shape of each building you build so they don’t all look the same, but keep the same general theme going.
Medieval/Fantasy Style Bridge
Modern Style Bed and Breakfast
Now that you have a style and know what materials you will use, it’s time to start building.
First start small and work your way up. Build a few houses that look good to get the basics down before trying to tackle a tower or skyscraper.
When designing the exterior, lay out the shape of your house. Do not make a big square. Big square houses lead to uninteresting insides that feel empty. Big square houses also tend to have horribly ugly roofs. Start with an L or U shaped house then move on to more complicated shapes for your later buildings. Just take a look around spawn and notice the shapes of the buildings. The apartment building in the city has a cog or gear like shape and is a prime example of an interesting shape. As you are laying out the shape of your building, make sure you vary the material used. Remember every time you make a wall of all cobble, a puppy dies.
Adding depth is essential to making a building look good. A good way to add depth is to take a section of your wall and push it 1 block in or 1 block out. You can also use stairs or half-slabs in place of a full block. These will add crevices and make your walls more interesting to look at. Try using a glass pane instead of glass blocks as these will also add depth. One rule I try to use when building is anywhere I change materials, I also change depth.
Take a look at the style and materials used in these two buildings. They both use wool, glass, and glowstone and have similar fat "L" shapes giving them a modern look. The building on the left is a little more wool heavy and has tall windows. Whereas the building on the right uses sandstone for its structural pillars and has squatter windows. Both buildings fit the same modern style but are different enough to add some interesting variety to the area. Also notice how different colors of wool on the left building are pushed and pulled to add depth. Depth should not only be in the X and Y plane but also in the Z plane as seen by the patterns on the roofs.
This building is a good example of depth. Notice that in every place I change material or color, the depth also changes. Half-slabs are an easy way to add depth to a building as seen on the grey portion of the building. Also notice the red arches on the roof. Remember depth can also be in the z plane.
This entire building is actually sunk in the ground a couple of blocks to add depth. I also changed to using bricks in this building instead of wool, but it still fits with the modern style of the other buildings. The varying height of the roof adds more depth to this house. Buildings sunk into the ground are often darker on the inside. To remedy this I extended one of the windows across a portion of the roof. This not only makes the building more interesting visually but provides more natural light.
A building is only 1/3 finished if it has no interior. A good interior includes lighting, hallways, rooms, stairwells, furniture, and decorations. As such the interior of the building often takes much more time to complete than the exterior.
Designing a building interior is all about creating spaces. First you need to decide on a rough plan. What areas are going to be in the interior? What will they be used for? The types of interior spaces will vary with every building. For example in a survival base you will often build storage areas, work areas, a farm, enchanting station, etc. In a creative or more realistic type of building you will have different spaces. For an example, I’ve built a mixed use skyscraper in the city called Sig Tower. The interior will consist of shopping, apartments, a restaurant, a club, and other general areas.
Now that you have a plan for the interior spaces it’s time to make them. This can simply be done by putting walls up everywhere. I however think this leads to ugly and uninteresting interiors. Instead try to separate your spaces by changing materials and adding depth just like we did for the exterior. For example, instead of putting up a wall between your living room and dining room, try changing the floor pattern from one area to the next. Better yet, try raising or lowering one of the spaces for depth.
Lighting is another important aspect for interiors. Use appropriate lighting for your buildings. If you are building a castle, use torches on the walls for light. Do not just randomly put torches all over the floor. A castle should also be a little darker on the inside. For modern homes use lots of windows for natural light. Hidden glowstone also makes very nice lighting in houses. Do not use torches for a modern home.
This is the interior of a museum I built before adding furniture and details. On the right you can see a wall separating the two spaces. To make this transition more interesting I have pushed the doorway in and added some depth to the wall above the doorway. In the middle of the image you can see a transition to another space that doesn't use a wall. In this case I changed the material used in the floor. The pillar on the right and the bottom edge of the stairs also frame this transition. The floating glass ceiling allows plenty of light in during the day. At night hidden glowstone in the walls lights up the floors and stairs.
Furniture can be made in a variety of ways. Try to find new ways to use blocks for furniture. For example, in my texture pack, the bottoms of pistons have a red circle. I use these in a kitchen to look like stove burners. Two blocks with an iron door on them can look like a refrigerator. A block of black wool with a button or a trapdoor on it can look like speakers. A computer desk can be made by putting a pressure plate on a block then putting a sign on the pressure plate. Place a painting on the sign to make it look like a computer screen. Search the minecraft forum for other interesting ways to make furniture.
In this basement den I have used black wool to make a tv and trapdoors to make cabinet speakers to frame the tv. A purple rug helps to break up the floor and the couch helps separate the space. I've used an extended piston to make the small game table in the back. The switch for the light is hidden inside the wall.
In this kitchen I have used an iron door to make a refrigerator. The bottom of a piston is used for a stove and a cauldron is used for the sink. Pressure plates are used to make a counter top and stairs are used to make shelves above the counter. Small details such as the red backsplash and the lever used as a spigot make the room more visually interesting.
Here tall windows light up a two story family room. Because the ceiling is tall, I chose to use hanging glowstone for light at night. I used half-slabs to make a coffee table. The chairs could also be made from stone stairs instead of wood to make them stand out more from the floor.
So you’ve made this beautiful building inside and out. It will still look unfinished if there is no landscaping. Buildings in real life are not just built in flat empty fields of grass. Add trees, bushes, outdoor patios, flowers, etc. to make your buildings look finished.
Here I've built a pool with lounge furniture. I have also added a bar and a bbq area off to the side.
In this picture you can see trees lining the road on the right. Also notice the bushes in front of the houses and lining the other streets. You can even see plants growing and hanging from the roofs of some of the buildings.
A note on texture packs:
A texture pack can’t make a bad building look nice, but a good texture pack can give a good building that extra something to really stand out. Again pick a texture pack that compliments your build style. Some examples would be johnsmith for medieval, doku for ancient, or misa’s for modern. There are many great texture packs out there that can fit a variety of styles.
This is in no way a comprehensive or strict guide to building, but I hope I have provided you with some ideas and inspiration to make better looking buildings in minecraft. Remember it also takes practice to improve so get out there and start building.