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How to build with the landscape, not against it.

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SwiftyCraft avatar SwiftyCraft
Level 25 : Expert Network
Ever seen a creation that looked so correct, so belonging or so right, that you could be convinced nature itself created it? If you haven't picked up on what I'm getting at, I'm talking about houses that flow with nature. Almost as if the mountain (or whatever) was carved ever-so-delicately to hold the structure. These types of builds demonstrate the important ability to improvise with your canvas. These builds are what make people go 'wow.'

Most players, myself included, would much prefer flattening out a huge chunk of land for their nice home instead of trying to work with a jagged, hilly forest. Its the natural thing to do, its easier on you, so don't blame yourself for it. Your flat-land is perfect for a nice home, but, with a little elbow grease you can pull off something much, much cooler.
This tutorial will cover the know-how on building with the landscape, as well as designing a nice, realistic home or structure.

Lets begin, shall we? Every great piece of art starts with a canvas, and much to your surprise, this canvas won't be flat. I hope to make this as interactive as possible. Reading isn't already the funnest thing to do, so its always nice to get the reader involved. Heres the canvas we'll be using:

How to build with the landscape, not against it.

For those of you who would like to participate in the tutorial, please generate a world with the following seed:

"8071400974026593212" and go to the co-ordinates: X: 537, Y: 77, Z: -324.

Now that we have our canvas, we can begin plans for the build. Now, for those participating, feel free to formulate your own ideas of what you'd like to transform this hill into. Since we're on the topic, its important not to limit yourself in terms of creativity and what you want to build, regardless of your canvas. Make the canvas work for you, and no, that doesn't mean destroy the canvas to your liking. Simply work around/with it.

After some thought, I've realized a few good spots that would be nice for a home of mine. That open cave would be a nice hallway, and that flat side of the hill (center left) would make a nice windowed area. I can also make use of the fact that this hill has a nice flat top, perhaps a pool area?

I've came up with some basic plans for this structure, its not completely thought out - and it doesn't need to be. Personally I work better when I build around my main ideas, but again, thats just me. Build as you like, just build with the landscape is all. So, lets begin, shall we?

How to build with the landscape, not against it.

I made adequate use of that open cave area and turned it into.. err, somewhat of a hallway for now. This is only the beginning, I've made the walls - identifying the block scheme as primarily wooden. (We'll visit block schemes later) Those open pockets will be windows, nice and tall. This will correspond with a somewhat modern theme, tall windows are a cliche in modern homes. Notice how my block scheme and general theme are starting to take shape. This build needs more then wood, lets add something for variance. Afterwards we can move onto the concepts of realism and block schemes.

How to build with the landscape, not against it.

Alright, the hallways exterior is complete, and we've accented our block scheme with some stone bricks. Take note of how I didn't destroy a single block whilst making it, its important that its shape flows with the hill. This usually creates some neat, slightly abnormal shapes that add a nice and unique effect. Onto some important concepts, just so you know, these don't have anything to do with this tutorials aim but they are essential concepts that help almost any build look much better. I'll be applying the concepts to the build in this tutorial, feel free to skip this next part if you like.


The treatment of forms, colors, space, etc., in such a manner as to emphasize their

correspondence to actuality or to ordinary visual experience.

In caveman terms, you make things look real. Applying this concept in Minecraft is pretty simple, for example: You're building a restaurant and need tables but Minecraft, sadly, doesn't have a 'table' block. You must improvise, perhaps using extended piston-tops as tables will do. To elaborate, you improvised, added realism to your restaurant with tables, and this is a 'correspondence to actuality.'

One form of Realism that I almost always use when building is to imagine that my build is in real life. By doing this, I take gravity into consideration. That hallway in which we constructed would collapse under its own weight, so we need supporting pillars to hold it up. By adding things like this, we convey a sense of realism across the build. Doing this can emphasize your overall theme or the builds purpose, show off your skills of improvisation in some cases, and remind people of places they've been because your building looks so real (which is always a nice thing.)

Now that we've got Realism in the bag, I'd like to quickly skim over Block Schemes. They aren't anything complicated, really. In short, blocks should always look like they belong with each other. Different patterns and colors should clash into something wonderful, like brick and sandstone. Although they are two drastically different blocks, one accents the other perfectly. Its up to you to figure out which blocks look good together. But always try and use neat combinations for a good effect.

We can now move onto the construction of the interior. The hallway in its current state looks nice on the outside, but rather brutal on the inside. When it comes to interior, it is OK to destroy or re-face some of the land, its inevitable that you will have to. Just don't abuse it, it should be kept in the same general shape at all times. Revisiting block schemes, I'm going for a modern theme and need a floor for the hallway that matches up nicely with a primarily wooden theme. I'm thinking light stone slabs.



Now that the hallway is just about finished, we need to light it up. Lighting, as you may think, would be the first on the list but actually, it sold be the last. "Lights, Camera, Action!" is a bit inaccurate here. :) Lighting is very important for any build, even pixel art. You shouldn't always try to rid of all dark areas because leaving them in adds an affect. Always use the "Moody" setting for Brightness when doing lighting, just as you should always use default when building. It will make more sense to a larger crowd, since most people don't change the defaults for whatever reason.

Lightning is tough to explain as it varies by your build, its theme, room for lighting, etc. For this build, I am applying Realism and going for a modern theme, so redstone lamps will be a good choice for lighting (They can turn on and off like real lights #realism.)

The hallway, in its entirety, is complete. We've applied just about every concept I've been talking about in this tutorial, to the hallway. Its got modernism, a nice flow with the mountain, proper lighting, and an appropriate block scheme. Unfortunately, I'm not the type to write up a huge tutorial without knowing if people will like it or not. I'm going to do one more section of the house, and wrap this up. If this article gets a positive reaction, I'll probably continue it. :3 Anyways...

I've begun the basic work of constructing a second area, just beside the hallway. This will probably be the Kitchen area. I aim to make it just as contemporary as the hallway, except leave cavern ceilings for that added effect of 'nature.' Doing things like this continually emphasize the fact that you're building WITH landscape, and not against it - people will notice. Also, I've already thoroughly explained all the concepts, so instead of taking this through step-by-step like the hallway, I'll just show you the semi-finished product:

Quick observation: We haven't drastically modified the cave, notice how the stairs are elevated, yet the caves shape/structure stays intact. We have added tall, modernish lights, and a light floor accented with regular wood. This is the kitchen, so lets move onto the realism part of it, the appliances.

Realism and Kitchen Appliances in Minecraft go hand-in-hand. Notice the range over the stove, the cliche white kitchen with a door, the sink with a faucet, etc. Kitchen Appliances are a good way to release your inner realist, come up with the most realistic way of making a stove or fridge - its actually kind of fun. This leaves the kitchen completed, the Cantina will be for later.

This concludes the tutorial, for now.

I really hope you learned something from this, and that you enjoyed it.

All I ask is that you rate it based on your opinion, asking for diamonds defeats the purpose.


7 Update Logs

Update #7 : by SwiftyCraft 08/13/2014 9:32:41 amAug 13th, 2014

The entire article glitched and turned from a nicely formatted tutorial into a mess of vomited up HTML code. Thanks to one of the commentors, I got it all fixed up.

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08/08/2014 2:57 pm
Level 52 : Grandmaster Pixel Painter
craftykids avatar
Do you know why there's a bunch of HTML code?
08/08/2014 12:50 pm
Level 35 : Artisan Dragon
ShadowDestroyer5 avatar
The code is really messed up
08/08/2014 2:56 pm
Level 52 : Grandmaster Pixel Painter
craftykids avatar
If you want to read the tutorial, you can copy the code into a plain text file, change the extension to ".html",  and open it with a web browser.
08/08/2014 3:04 pm
Level 35 : Artisan Dragon
ShadowDestroyer5 avatar
The creator can use this to make it BB code and then paste that into the blog to fix it.
08/13/2014 8:57 am
Level 25 : Expert Network
SwiftyCraft avatar
Thank you for posting this! I have no idea why the code decided to barf itself up into my post, must be some sort of glitch. This helped me fix it, thanks!
12/17/2013 4:52 pm
Level 12 : Journeyman Artist
Manfontra avatar
06/29/2013 4:08 am
Level 1 : New Miner
CrylikesTrains2600 avatar
Hey dude, do you have to happen still have the file? I know this is a tutorial but its not much of a help to me, I am not good in terraforming houses
05/22/2013 9:22 am
Level 21 : Expert Architect
numberouz avatar
12/27/2012 1:41 am
Level 41 : Master Blob
shirtandtieler avatar
Gorgeous! Something that I've always wanted to really master. The whole "flatten out an area and build there" technique is a bit bland imo but whenever I've tried to build into a biome, I always end up messing it up and then end up just flatting it out (habits, I suppose).

What would REALLY be kick butt is if you did more tutorials but applying it to all the different biomes :D
Thanks again for this awesome tut :)
11/29/2013 4:34 pm
Level 26 : Expert Grump
IceCream_Sundae avatar
Yes! Especially to new biomes, like cliffs, or AMPLIFIED WORLDS! :o
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