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How to Improve your city (ft. my ideas)

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LightlySaltedBuilder avatar LightlySaltedBuilder
Level 53 : Grandmaster Architect
Want to improve your city? (That's probably why you clicked on this blog) Well, look no further! Here are my tips to improve your city, including the builds in it. These are all things I use in my city. (because if I didn't then that would just be weird) I hope this blog helps you out, wether you're already working on a city or want to start building one.
Also, make sure to leave a diamond if you liked this blog or found it helpful, or want to see more blogs.

First up, the basics
There are several elements a build must contain in order to look its best. A lot of these are commonly mentioned in build tutorials, so you might have seen these before

Depth is probably one of the most important ones. If you don't understand the concept of depth in a build, then look it up in a dictionary. Just kidding, basically what it means is not having everything in the same layer. So instead of having that log frame on your cottage right next to the wood, why not make it stick out a block.(In your city it would be a skyscraper or something) Trust me, this is the thing that will most improve your builds,thought it might take a while to develop a good sense of depth. Some of the others might come more naturally, for example, my next basic:

One of the important things when it comes to choosing your materials, is to not make it one single block. Hopefully you don't make your houses all of the exact same block, so you should know this. However there is more to it which isn't commonly mentioned.

For the amount of blocks you should use I would say minimum three. But for a really good build you will probably want to use more. When choosing the actual blocks, make sure they compliment each other. Make sure one is a contrasting color, and they will look better.

Another important thing is to make your build an interesting shape. Once I built a skyscraper, it had good palette and depth, but because it was simply a rectangle it just didn't cut it. I had another skyscraper which was way simpler, and actually lacked depth. But it had a really cool shape, and I liked it better than the other one. So make your builds and interesting shape, don't make them simply a rectangle.

This one isn't commonly talked about, but its important. Make your builds flow, make sure every component looks like it belongs there, like it's perfectly in place. The worst thing you can do to a good build is add something that looks out of place. So if you use a new material, make sure to add it to other parts, or use the same materials throughout the whole build, don't have that material only on one wall or section. This also applies to the overall city, since you want your buildings to look like they belong together. Don't slap a modern house in the middle of a colonial neighborhood. Keep the same theme of building in the area.

Things to avoid:
  • Repetition: No matter how good you design is if it is repeated too much your builds will look kind of bland. This doesn't mean you can't use the same design twice, just make sure you don't overuse a design, or if it being overused do something to break it up or divide it. Something you can do to avoid this is to use a basic design, and edit it depending on where it is used, so that it is not all the same.
  • Having too many different blocks/styles: This kind of goes with flow, but don't add too many components to a build. For example, I once made this modern house, but I used too many different blocks and things, and it just ended up looking weird. Try not to use too many different types of blocks. Keep everything in the set of blocks and style you've chosen.
  • Regular glass: Don't use regular glass. The main reason for this is because regular glass looks grainy at a distance. Instead, use stained glass for a clean, smooth look, that looks a lot more realistic. Trust me it looks so much better.
    This is a comparison of all the glasses. As you can hopefully see, the one that looks best is the stained, as they have a smoother look which resembles real life glass.How to Improve your city (ft. my ideas)

  • Grouping skyscrapers too close together: I'm not saying you should keep a whole city block in-between your skyscrapers, but at least keep a good distance between them. Have at least 5 blocks minimum between each building. The in-between space can be filled in with parking lots, sitting areas, or just a path to another skyscraper.
  • Leaving blank/empty spaces: One thing I hate is when people leave blank spaces in-between their buildings and roads. Always fill them with something, whether it simply be plants or trees, don't leave it as blank grass. Even randomizing it with a mix of dirt, gravel, podzol, etc. can make it look better.
    As you can see I filled in the area in front of the building with two small trees and a fountain, instead of leaving it blank.How to Improve your city (ft. my ideas)

Things to do:
  • Separate things in districts/zones: Cities look so much more organized when they are divided into sections. Basically have all the houses in one section, factories in another, and stores in another section. This also helps with flow, as one type of building (for example, modern) will be grouped together.
  • Have at least one floor of interior: One of the things that I don't like about cities is when they have no interior. While it might look nice, if it doesn't have interior it's not as much fun to explore. It doesn't have to be fully furnished, as long as it has some interior.
  • Have cars in the streets: Having cars in the street adds some life to your city, so that it doesn't look so dead. One thing you could do is use car models, just make a car and copy it all over your city, so you don't have to come up with an original car every time you make one. I would recommend making at least 10 models, so that it isn't obvious the cars are repeating. (By the way the city in the pictures doesn't have cars because I'm not done with it)
  • Fill your city with details: Make sure you fill your public areas with lots of details, like greenery, maps, benches, and sitting areas. Don't make it simply stone. In the end it's the details (and interiors) that will make your city fun to explore.
    Here is an example of a detailed public area, while it is not extremely detailed it is enough to make it not look blank.How to Improve your city (ft. my ideas)

  • Streets and sidewalks on different levels: Make sure your sidewalks are higher than the street. The reason for this is that having them on the same level makes the streets look flat, having the sidewalks higher gives it some depth. You can take this even further. If your sidewalks are a slab, then have the building half a block above the sidewalk. So your street would be a whole block, your sidewalks a slab higher, and your buildings a block higher than the street.
    Spoiler - click to reveal
    This is an example of having the street, sidewalk, and buildings a half slab above each other, though you can just have the sidewalk higher.

  • Give your skyscrapers a base: Don't give your skyscrapers the same floor design the whole way up. Have a base that uses a different design, shape, or both. Just make sure it flows with the rest of the skyscraper. If you're going to use a different design make it similar enough it looks like part of the building.

Other Things That I Didn't Know Where to Put

When you make paths (I mean like park paths, paths through grassy areas, etc.), there are a few designs you should use. The two main options I would say are a randomized gravel, cobblestone, and stone path (you can edit the materials) for a rougher look. For cleaner paths you can use a block at the same level of the surrounding grass with a slab at the edges.

Pictures of both paths

World Edit:
While you don't have to use WorldEdit, I found it a huge help. If you have problems with laziness, this is a huge help since it make building things like roads so much easier. It also helps for experimenting, as you can change the color clay your building is made of with one command, and change it back just as easily. You can also easily remove buildings that you don't like. If you'd rather do it by hand, that's great, but I think WorldEdit helps a lot if you don't have a lot of time to build.

You need to make sure you have good roads. The realistic roads look amazing, and I would recommend you use them, but not all of us have the skill to make roads like that (including me) Your roads don't have to be complicated, something as simple as adding a yellow line on the sides can improve it a lot. They don't have to be realistic, as long as they make sense and they look good.
Spoiler - click to reveal
The roads in this picture are an example of something simple that can be done to make a road look better.

If you reached the end of this blog, then congratulations! I hope you've learned something from this blog, so you can make sure your city is the best it can be. Also, please leave a diamond because I put a lot of work in this blog, and it would suck to only get one diamond. (but then I find out it's the one I gave myself ): )

By the way, here's a picture of the whole city, which as of the moment I am writing this no longer exists (It accidentally got deleted). But I thought I'd put it here. (By the way I'm actually writing this about a month after the original upload)
Yay! Another picture!


1 Update Logs

Update #1: Pictures! : by LightlySaltedBuilder 07/10/2017 9:25:36 pmJul 10th, 2017

Added pictures to tips and a picture of my city at the end.

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03/05/2018 8:57 pm
Level 1 : New Explorer
Elluvon_Industries avatar
Very nice and good pictures/narrative. I usually don't build structures (I'm more of a vehicle guy) but I think you just inspired me to go out there and give it a try. Never used WorldEdit, but I do want to try it.
12/17/2017 8:10 pm
Level 41 : Master Ninja
Shimoto avatar
I just came back to this via your forum post. I gave you a Diamond a while ago but did not subsribe since I was not interested in your other stuff. So what I wanna say here is, please do more building blogs, doesn't matter how basic! I think PMC really does need such especially for beginners who wanna start building stuff but don't know how.
12/17/2017 10:59 pm
Level 53 : Grandmaster Architect
LightlySaltedBuilder avatar
Thanks, this is really motivating. I'm working on getting someone to interview for a blog, so hopefully I can make another one soon. Currently I'm looking for people who are better at specific areas of building than me, so as soon as I can find someone I'll be able to make more.
12/18/2017 7:50 am
Level 41 : Master Ninja
Shimoto avatar
If you ever do anything else than modern architecture and need someone who knows about ancient buildings, send me a message.
12/14/2017 12:24 am
Level 20 : Expert Dragon
FangABXY avatar
Nice set of tips but I mostly knew most of this already. This does still make it convenient and easy to view and review though. Now i just need to find a way to port minecraft worlds. . .
07/29/2017 11:16 pm
Level 58 : Grandmaster Engineer
MrWizz avatar
I came here (after you gave my city a diamond :P) thinking "an other guy that thinks he can teach me how to build a city". I got to say, you got it right! You basically expressed what I think most of the time when I'm building, in a very simple way! There's a few things that I would add or change, but considering these are general advice for beginners/intermediate, it's a really good guide! Some people need to read that hahaha.

Few things that came to my mind reading this:
Ground dept: People have been building city on flat surfaces for so long, and it looks plain and boring! Adding different heights and slopes to streets really makes the difference.

Flat areas between the street and a build: Having very large sidewalks or zones(filled with details or not) can look good, but not if it's for every building.

Broken/unsymmetric stuff: they just make a city environment looks much more alive! As long as you don't over use it of course.

Keep it up!
06/20/2017 6:27 pm
Level 47 : Master Architect
Anakiiin avatar
Good ideas and very thorough explanation. I would like to add that mixing parts of districts together isn't that bad, especially if it's residential/commercial. Factories and houses, though? No, haha.
06/20/2017 6:32 pm
Level 53 : Grandmaster Architect
LightlySaltedBuilder avatar
True, but I'm more talking about those people who put a skyscraper on one side, a house next to it, and a warehouse on the other side.
06/09/2017 9:35 am
Level 1 : New Architect
jennaisplaying avatar
Great blog, very explanatory!
06/05/2017 6:43 pm
Level 13 : Journeyman Explorer
nickolaiproblem avatar
Planet Minecraft


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