How to Build

How to Build a Ship in Minecraft

minecraft ship banner

Building a ship in minecraft can be one of the most difficult things to build. Their rounded shapes are very difficult to recreate with large blocks, without making it look weird.

I’m by no means a ship building expert and I don’t claim this guide is the best way to build a ship, but hopefully it’ll help people, especially beginners, design and create their own ships.

Just a note, the difference between a ship and a boat is that a boat is smaller. You could say a boat fits into a ship. Though the difference doesn’t really matter, as most people use both terms for the same thing anyway.

Planning

Build a ship is best done by planning your design first. Think of a general shape and size of the ship you want and try to find some reference pictures to work from, whether it’s a minecraft version or a photograph of a real ship.

When building a ship, you can often divide the parts you want to build into 4 separate sections. The bow (front), stern (back), the remainder of the hull (body of the ship) and all the other details, like masts, flags, etc.

The front and back of the ship are often the most difficult parts to build, as they’re round and generally odd looking when translated into minecraft builds.

I usually either start with the front or with the middle, though building the entire framework first will also work. This tutorial will cover each step individually, so you can do them in any order you like. However, the first thing you always have to do is determine the size of your ship, as it’ll determine how wide the bottom will be, which will always be the place we start at.

Bow (front)

The front of the ship is a bit tricky, as it’s both round and pointy. It’s often best to first create the general shape and then take out blocks to make it look more aqua dynamic and overall better looking. Start out by first finding or creating the middle of your ship. This will be the lowest point and will be used as reference points from which we build up the remainder of the front.

Start by creating a long row of blocks as the middle of the ship. Then slowly build your way up to your desired height. Start to increase the height very slowly, only about 1 block every 3-5 blocks. Slowly increase this until you’re about half way up. Now increase the height faster, about 1 block every 1 or 2 blocks until you’ve reached your desired height.

minecraft ship bow image

Once you’ve reached the desired height, it’s time to start building from this point towards the sides. Begin on 1 side and slowly work your way towards the desired width of the boat, but make sure you don’t make it too wide or not wide enough. You generally want to work your way to about 8-11 blocks away from the middle line of your ship, though again, it depends on the size and type of ship you’re building.

Start out by increasing the width by about a block every 2 blocks you place. Then increase the width every 3 blocks you place. Keep making the intervals at which you increase the width longer and longer untill you’ve reached the desired width. Now copy this on the other side. If you’re having difficulties to recreate it, either fly over your ship and try to mirror the image, or take a screenshot and mirror it with an image editor.

minecraft ship bow image

It’s very difficult to explain the exact steps you need to take to make the front look good from this point, as it’s generally just a matter of experimenting and it also depends a lot on the type of ship you’re building. Try to make the front look sharper by removing and adding blocks, play around with it until it looks good. Note that if the front is made entirely out of the same color wood (or same block), it will rarely look good enough on it’s own, so make a few layers out of a different color or a different block. It’ll look better right away.

minecraft ship bow image

If you’re really having troubles, try copying an existing minecraft boat to get a feel of it. Count the number of blocks they’ve placed on each layer and then change it to your own liking.

minecraft ship bow image

Stern (back)

I find the stern a little easier to start, but it’s often a little tricky to get it to look right, especially if you make it higher to create a captain’s cabbin.

I always start by creating a anchor-like shape the edge of the middle, at the height of the deck. This is often a great way to start, though higher ships might require you to start this lower.

minecraft ship stern image

After this I first connect the the bottom of the ship to the edge of the anchor-like shape by simply placing blocks and making the length 1 block smaller every time I go down 1 block. Note that we need to leave some space for a room, like the captain’s cabin, so I’ve already placed some glass blocks to mark this space.

Once you’ve finished this, the general shape looks decent, but often quite odd. I then begin to trim the overall shape down, by removing and adding blocks to make it look longer and more aqua dynamic. I also add windows on the upper part, which will usually be a bedroom or office of the captain.

minecraft ship stern image

Once I’ve finished this it’s time to build upwards. I tend to simply add layers to the top layer, without increasing or decreasing the width, this will look quite good, but improvements can be made. After I’ve added enough layers for a second floor, I begin trimming it all down again. I tend to remove some corners and replace them with fences, this makes it all look less flat and plain, without losing the overall shape.

minecraft ship stern image

The top part can also stick out a little on all sides, which will also help making it look less flat and plain. This is something I usually do after I’ve built up the layers, simply by adding another layer against the sides.

This is also usually the part where I add the windows to both the captain’s cabin and other rooms in the back, as windows can look quite odd, so they often need some extra attention.

I often also add the rudder and possibly a pole with a flag, as I might forget to add them later (like I did in the picture).

Hull (body)

The hull is fairly easy, especially if you’ve already created either the stern or bow. You simply extend the blocks at the edges of those parts until you’ve reached the desired length.

However, if you’re starting with the hull, building it will still be quite easy. You start by creating the middle, which is just a long line of blocks.
Then determine how wide you want your ship to be and slowly work your way towards that height and width. Don’t increase the height too fast, or it’ll look very weird. It may take some practice and experimenting to get the right size, so don’t create the whole hull right away, instead, create a smaller 5 block long part and check if that part looks good, if it doesn’t, alter it and check again.

minecraft ship hull image

Details

Once you’ve completed the entire body of the ship it’s time to add details. This will once again depends on the type of ship you’re making, a pirate ship will usually have sails, while a steam punk style ship might have a hot air balloon with huge propellers.

One detail that will look good on pretty much all ships is a few layers in a different block. A ship made entirely out of wooden planks looks quite plain, so replace a few layers with logs or differently colored planks.

You may also want to add fences on the edges, both to prevent people from falling off and as a way to make them ship look better. Don’t forget to leave some openings to allow people to go on and off board.

Sails

Sails are quite difficult to make, so I often create the in their folded positions, as if the ship is laying at anchor. This will work best when the ship is in a harbor, where it’s a lot more realistic for a ship to have its sails folded.

However, if you do want to hoist the sails, creating a diagonal spreader, which are the branches on a mast, often look better, as they allow you to create better looking sails. Straight spreaders can also be used, but the sails will often look a bit odd and square, especially on smaller ships.

minecraft ship sails image minecraft ship sails image minecraft ship sails image

Creating a sail requires some practice and trial and error, it can take a while to make it looks good and you often have to adjust the width and length of the mast and spreaders. However, you generally create circular shapes, which start and end at spreaders, though they could also be attached to ropes on deck, which could be mimicked with fence posts.

A trick I use to create sails is to open paint and first draw the spreader, make sure each block you’ve used on your boat’s spreader is resembled by 1 pixel.

After this I use the circle tool to create a circular shape from 1 side of the spreader to the other. This often gives me a great horizontal outline of the sails I want. I then do the same by drawing the mast, but again, remember the 1 pixel to 1 block ratio. After the mast is drawn I use the circle tool again to create another circular shape which marks the outline of the sail vertically. Once both shapes have been drawn, I only have to recreate it on my minecraft boat, though it often requires some more tweaking.

I usually find a few pictures of real life examples and try to copy those as close as possible. I then make any needed alterations to make it look better with the overall design of the ship.

If you’re really struggling, try downloading some existing minecraft ships and take a closer look to the way those people have built that ship.

Viking Building Style in Minecraft

The viking building style allows for some very dramatic looking villages, especially when they’re built on mountains or other high places in snow biomes.

The most stereotypical part about viking houses are the roofs. They’re tall, slightly curved and usually have some form of decoration at the ends of the top. The houses themselves are often made out of wood and tend to look quite dark and a little depressing. This dark exterior contrasts the interior of the houses, which are often quite cozy and mainly designed to be practical.

Viking ships are also very distinct looking, with the curved ends and a red and white sail. I’ve built two different ships for this guide, a large one, which I use as trading and battle ships, and a smaller ship, which I use as either fishing boats or viking funeral services (they burn the dead on small sail boats). Note that I cover the large ship in more detail in a separate guide, which you can find here.

Viking houses

As you can see in the image below, I’ve built the roofs of the normal viking houses as quite steep, pointed roofs. I used normal planks partially because minecraft doesn’t have dark wooden slabs and stairs yet, but mainly because these wooden plank roofs allow us to place snow on it (or let it fall on top), which makes it look a lot better.

The reason we need slabs and stairs is the decoration pieces on the roof itself. I mainly used stairs (and upside down stairs) to create them and they look great. The slabs are used to make the roof curve slightly inwards at the top, which doesn’t look very good if you use stairs or normal blocks.

The decoration piece is made with an upside down stairs at the edge of the roof, which has a slab on top of it and 2 upside down stairs on the sides of that slab. Slabs are also added at the back side (roof side) to make it flow gradually into the curved roof.

Unlike most of my other guides I’ve also decorated the inside of the houses, which turned out quite well. Instead of 2 separate floors, I’ve chosen for half an upper floor, which makes it part of the ground floor and the whole house. This also allowed me to add a fire with a cauldron as a center piece of the house, which is where the vikings will sit for warmth and food. Besides this fire I’ve also built a kitchen, which looks quite cozy under the top floor.

The top floor is used as a sleeping area, which is heated by the warmth of the fire (and kitchen) on the bottom floor. I found this works great, as it makes the house look very cozy and warm, which contrasts perfectly with the cold winter landscape outside.

Viking townhall

The townhall is the biggest building in the village and built on the highest part of the island, which is also roughly the middle of the island. I’ve built the townhall is a place where all the vikings will meet, celebrate and enjoy some food and drinks.

The town hall has 2 large rows of tables, which is where the common viking will sit with their family and friends. The large table at the end of this row is used by the viking heroes, only (the best) warriors and fighters will sit here. The smaller table at the end is for the chief and his wife will sit, which is also why this part of the building is elevated to allow them to overlook the whole building.

At the entrance and in the 2 side sections of the building are some cauldrons on a fire, which is where all the food of for the vikings is cooked. I’ve played around with different blocks, as I wanted something different than just cauldrons on the fire, but the only block that came close to looking good was netherrack, which looks a little like meat, but not enough. Pumpkins and melons just looked weird.

I’ve only placed windows above the entrance and behind the viking chief’s table. This lets in just enough daylight, without making everything look to open and bright. I wanted to make everything look warm and cozy, just like the houses, which adds to the contrast between the warm fires inside and the cold, snowy landscapes outside. The fires from the cauldrons provide some decent lighting, but not enough to light the whole town hall, so I’ve added a few torches and a chandelier to light up the roof.

The roof of the town hall is a bit different from the houses, but shouldn’t be too difficult to build. The decoration piece will be the hardest, but it’s simply a slightly bigger version of the one who got on the houses. Like the house piece, this piece has 2 upside down stairs attached to the side of a slab, which is placed on top of another upside down stairs placed against the edge of the roof. A normal stairs block is placed under it, which makes it stand out more and that’s exactly what we want from out main building. The back of the declaration piece is made with a stairs block first and then a slab.

The roof is also curved more, as we have more space to work with. I go down half a block about every 2-3 blocks, whichever looks better. If you copy my roof, the exact measurements after the stairs and slab of the decoration piece are: 2 blocks, 2 slabs, 3 blocks, 4 slabs and then you build up towards the middle again in with 3 blocks, 2 slabs and then 2 blocks.

The roofs of the side parts are almost the same as the roofs of our normal houses, with the exception that they start with just a 1 block increase in height, instead of 2. This means the roofs will overlap where they meet each other, which looks a lot better.

Other buildings

Of course, a village isn’t very good if you only have a town hall and the same looking houses. A town needs farms, windmills, blacksmiths and many other job specific houses. Most of these buildings will look similar to the normal houses, but just bigger or with side sections, similar to our townhall. But blacksmiths, windmills, animal barns and other buildings will look a little different.

A blacksmith needs to have either a chimney or an outdoor furnace to make sure the heat can go out. I decided to use both, though the outdoor furnace looks best in my opinion. Like most buildings, the blacksmith has the signature roof, but the windows are a little different and the bottom half of the building is made out of stone. You can read how to build the complete blacksmith in our blacksmith building guide.

My viking village has been built with darker looking blocks, so our windmill also has to look darker than the one in our windmill building guide, it also needs to be a bit bigger to fit in with the large viking houses. The general shape is still the same, but I’ve expanded the width and height to make sure the overal shape doesn’t look odd. The windmill is not in use in the cold winter months, so I’ve added ice formations to make the village look even colder.

Viking boat

The small boat is fairly easy to make, but this scale doesn’t allow us to add many details. One main characteristic of viking ships is the curved ends, which I’ve tried to recreate with upside down stairs.

The stern and bow (back and front) of the ship are the same, except for the decoration piece. I would normally use the same piece on both sides, but both pieces work just as good together, so you’ll have to decide for yourself which one you like best.

The hull of the boat can be seen in the image above, you simply extend it to as long as you like. The sail is made in the same way I make the large sails, which is part experimenting and part using a program like Paint to draw out some general shapes of sails and see which one looks best.

Viking ship

Building a large viking ship allows us to add more details, which is perfect for the curved decoration pieces at each end. For this ship I’ve chosen to use the same piece on each side, which works quite well.

As with our smaller viking boat, this viking ship is pretty much symmetrical, so both the stern and bow are the same. The only thing that’ll make one side look like the front is our sail, which is the same sail as the one I used in our normal ship tutorial.

For more details on how to build this viking ship, please refer to its separate guide, which you can find by clicking here.

How To Build A Viking Ship In Minecraft


Viking ships are a lot easier to build than the larger, normal ships, like the one in our other tutorial. The hull of a viking ship is a lot smaller and lower, which means it’s a lot easier to make it look good. However, the decoration, curved end pieces can be a bit tricky to create in Minecraft.

If you’re looking for a viking ship for your harbor, I’ve also included instructions on how to build those sails, which are very easy, found in the last section of this article.

Bow (front) and stern (back)

As mentioned, both the stern and bow of my viking ship is the same, which makes building a large viking ship a whole lot easier. As you can see in the image below, I start with the middle of the ship and build up gradually. The 2 blocks at the top is the point where we’ll start to build the curved end pieces. Those 2 blocks also mark where we build the edges of our viking ship, everything below that will be either the deck or storage space.

The remainder of the stern and bow is build in a similar way to our normal ship, but we make it even pointier by increasing the intervals at which we increase the width of the ship. There isn’t a real right and wrong way of doing building this part, it’s mostly relying on your own taste and some experience, but if you’re inexperienced or if you just can’t get it to look right, feel free to download our ship and either use it as it is or try to copy and adjust it to your own preferences, practice makes perfect.

I usually build the decoration piece right after I’ve build the stern or bow, but we go into more detail on how to build this part further down below the page.

Hull (body)

The hull couldn’t be easier, especially if you’ve build the bow and/or stern first, you simply extend it to your desired length. The hull of a viking ship is generally quite flat and wide, but I also wanted space below deck to use as a storage space or perhaps as sleeping quarters. So the bottom of the ship had to be at least 2 blocks below deck, which meant there was only 1 design that looked good enough.

I usually place the bottom 2 layers underwater, because I prefer the extra height it gives me, but even placed the bottom 3 layers underwater will make it look good, perhaps better.

For those looking for a way to create spaces in which viking could place their paddles, using stairs at the edges works perfectly. Place 1 stairs about once every 2 blocks, with the holes facing sideways of course, and then add a row of 2 stairs on deck on which the vikings can sit and row their ship.

Decoration piece and sails

The decoration piece may seem tricky, but it’s quite easy to build. Almost the whole piece is made with stairs and wooden planks, with just 2 slabs at the top. If you have difficulties figuring out where each block is placed, click on the image below to take you to an image which points out each block clearly.

The sails of the viking ship are build the same way as the ship in our other other tutorial. I used the stereotypical red and white colors, which always work great.

For the viking ships that are docked, I use folded up sails and ice to add to the cold looks of the surroundings and to make it look like they’ve been docked for a while. The sails itself shouldn’t be difficult to create. The ice is first created as 1 hanging row of 3-5 ice blocks and I then add blocks on the sides to make it look better. It’s pretty much just a matter of experimenting a little.

Fairy Building Style in Minecraft

The fairy building style will need to be taken lightly, as some may view this style as elven style, woodland style or perhap some other form of fantasy style, but for the purpose of this guide we’ll call it fairy style.

When I started designing a new area, I knew that I wanted a fantasy style forest, but I didn’t want it to be like many other builds, which usually involve elf-like buildings like we’re used to seeing in The Lord of the Rings and other movies. I decided to go for smaller creations, as this meant I could build tiny houses, secret passages, use lighting effects and other whimsical effects.

However, I did want the cliche grand tree in the middle, simply because it not only looks impressive, especially when standing on the ground, it also acts as the main place for all my houses and other builings.

The trees

Trees make up most of the builds, though they mostly serve as good looking landscape pieces, but they’re an important part of this building style. I build my trees with Voxel Sniper, which is highly recommended for when you want to create huge trees, but some of my smaller trees are made by hand.

One thing you may want to consider is using weird shaped trees to make everything feel more magical and different. While a normal, straight forest looks great, we want a more fantasy-style type of forest for our fairies. Try floating trees, weirdly curved trees, trees growing from trees, trees growing and merging as one, the posibilites are endless.

A final note, I highly recommend using an anti leaf decay mod or server plugin to make the trees and it’s pretty much a requirement if you use Voxel Sniper or world edit. Huge trees will cause huge amounts of lag (and will crash your game) if you don’t turn leaf decay off. I personally use world guard, which I’ve got setup on a private, local host server.

Fairy houses

My fairy houses are quite simplistic, though I think they work great. I used leaves to create a birdnest-like structure, small enough to be considered as a fairy house, but big enough for some basic furniture. The leaves will blend the house in with the highest leaves in the whole area, in this case the cornucopia of the large tree. By adding some glowstone at the top, in between the leaves of the house, a dim light effect is added at night, which looks great in large numbers.

I’ve also added small overhanging edge outside the entrances, this is mostly used for real players, as flying through a 2 block high gap can often be a pain. Simply landing on this edge and walking in makes this a lot easier.

I didn’t add any windows, I find this creates a more cosy feel to the inside of the house and because I play with graphics on fancy, light will shine through the leaves, creating a neat effect. If you have your graphics settings set to fast, you may want to consider using a small window or 2 if it looks too dark inside.

Statues, gardens and more

No fantasy forest is finished without at least 1 magical gathering place. While I plan to create many more, I currently have a neat, excluded place for people to relax. A small, circular hill creates a neat barrier and 2 intertwining trees growing above the small pond make that pond look a little more magical.

I’ve used 2 tree-like twin statues as an entrance and build them to make them look like they’re using powers to hold up a light crystal, which could be magical in itself. These types of statues will be found throughout the forest, each with their own names, meanings and uses.

These statues also give a more stereotypical relation to nature, especially as a type of worship or faith system. While I don’t aim to create a strong belief system, I find that creating some form of magical power, whether it’s a higher power or not, adds to the overal feel and perception of the forest as a magical place, perfect for fairies.

Secret passages

A magical forest is nothing without some magic, which I create by using redstone clocks to power different entrances, mechanisms and other fun tricks in the forest. For example, the large waterfall at the twin statues has a secret opening at the bottom, which only opens at night.

A maze could be randomized by constantly changing the walls, either by using a minecart system similar to that used in the rainbow runner mini game or by using normal redstone clocks. A face on a large tree could open its eye every morning or perhaps only at night by using a simple redstone clock and some sticky pistons. A waterfall (and everything else) could be shut off at night to create a clam, silent forest.

Lights could be turned on automatically at night and turned off during the day. The possibilites are (almost) endless, the only limit is your imagination, and perhaps your redstone skills and building space.

Advanced Pixel Art: Altering Existing Creations

There may be times when you want to make your pixel art creation stand in a different position, this is often the case with 3D pixel art versions of minecraft characters, as the legs of characters are placed directly next to each other and will look odd when they’re both the same color. To get your creation in another position may seem difficult, but it’s actually quite easy and I’m sure most of you will be able to do it pretty much all by hand after practicing a little with the trick mentioned below.

The important thing to realize is that even though the desired result is different from the original image or creation, it will still be pixel art, which means we can use any image editing program to first plan our altered creation before building it. In this guide we’ll be using paint, as it should be available to most of you, but (almost) any image editing program can be used.

Recreating the original

Before we start creating our altered version in paint, we first need to know what the original version looks like in paint. We don’t need the entire image, but only the important parts we want to change. I will be altering a Minecraft pig to make it look like it’s jumping/flying.

To make the pig look like it’s jumping or flying I needed to change the body and legs. The head could remain the same, but I wanted to make it look like it’s slightly hanging downwards, so I had to change the original as well. This means we recreate the pig’s body, head and 1 leg in paint, just to get the dimensions as a point of reference for our altered versions.

The pig’s body is 16 x 8, but because I plan on using 2 blocks of wool per pixel I create a 32 x 16 rectangle in paint. The same is done for the head and leg. These shapes serve as a great reference point from which we can create the new shapes without having to count how many pixels we’re using, though most image editing programs will count the pixels you use while creating a line with a line tool.

minecraft advanced pixel art tutorial image

Changing the original shape

To change the shape of the pig I use the curve tool in paint, which allows me to first draw a line and then alter the line slightly by clicking towards where we want the line to curve. This tool allows us to create a good looking bend shape with the right dimensions. Just make sure your line is 32 pixels long (or whatever the size of the original is), but don’t worry about the increase in length the lines get from being diagonally placed, this doesn’t affect the end result at all.

minecraft advanced pixel art tutorial image

Make sure the bottom and top lines aren’t the same, this will make the pig look more like a diagonal shaped block, rather than a natural looking creature. Also make sure the start and end of the lines are 16 blocks apart. This matters less on parts which only change height slightly, like the head.

Now that we’re done with the body we simply have to repeat the same steps with the leg and head, but the leg will be a little different, as it already has to fit the now changed shape of the body.

This is why we only change the bottom of the leg and then simply attach it to the pig’s body by adding blocks. Again, don’t worry about the increase in length, in real life the skin will also stretch when you stretch or bend parts of your body. The legs will look just fine with the extra length.

minecraft advanced pixel art tutorial image

Due to the small size of the leg and the small change we need for the head, building everything by hand is quite easy, so you may not have to plan those before you build them.

Building the new version

We’re pretty much done now, all you have to do now is recreate the shapes in minecraft in the same way you’d create normal pixel art. You may have to change a few parts to make it look better, as pixel lines in paint don’t always look as good in Minecraft, but the general shape should usually be good enough to play around with.

minecraft advanced pixel art tutorial image

However, note that specific details, like the nails and eyes on a pig, will look a lot better if they’re 1 complete section of the pig, instead of 2 halves on different levels, as seen in the image below.

How to Build a Blacksmith in Minecraft

Blacksmiths are great assets to any town, both for role play purposes and aesthetics. However, building a good looking blacksmith in Minecraft can be a bit tricky. The overall design will mainly depend on which style you’re building in, but pretty much all blacksmiths have a few things in common. The most obvious parts are the furnace, anvil and a water container.

Building these 3 features isn’t too difficult, though they can often look quite odd if you use full blocks or stairs. This also means they’re often too high to use if you’d role play. To solve this I use slabs to cover the whole floor. The will integrate the water container and the lava container (furnace) perfectly and make it accessible to whoever wants to use the lava, both as a role playing item and as a garbage disposal system.

The image above is pretty much the most basic version of our blacksmith. I’ve added some crafting benches on top of wooden planks to mimic a tool rack. Chests and other blocks can also be placed inside, but only on top of full blocks, as they will float if you place them on top of the slab floor. This means there isn’t really any room for chairs or other furniture, unless you make part of the floor at a higher height level (simply use full blocks instead of slabs). I tend to keep the blacksmith buildings and the houses separated, this means I can fill more land with houses and make the town bigger and more impressive looking.

I finish off the furnace by adding an overhanging stone section above the lava, which both acts as part of the chimney outside and as a way to fill up some of the empty space inside. The chimney outside is quite simply a large column of stone with cobwebs at the top to mimic smoke coming out of the chimney.

We’re pretty much done with our blacksmith at this point, all there’s left to do now is finish the builder, but as mentioned, the look of the building will depend on the style you’re building in, which you’ll have to decide for yourself. You can, however, check out some of our building style how to’s.

I use slabs and upside down slabs to create the windows, which doesn’t allow me to use glass, but it does put the windows on the right height for whoever is inside the building.

Other furnace types

You might not always want to use slabs or perhaps you simply don’t like them, so I’ve created some other furnaces which you might like or hopefully inspire you to design your own.

How to Build a Boat in Minecraft


While building a boat is a lot more manageable than building a ship, the size restriction creates quite a few challenges which make it difficult to build these smaller boats.

I tend to always use the same base of this boat, but I change the top to make each boat look more unique. This base is quite easy to make and is quite easy to remember, so you won’t have to use an example picture a lot.

The full instructions are pretty much all covered in the image below, you can click on it for a large version. Note that not every picture is another step, some of the pictures just show you a different angle of the boat, to make it easier to understand what I changed.

minecraft boat instruction image
I usually don’t create sails on small boats like these, as it’s very difficult to make the sails look good on a small scale. However, diagonal sails will usually look decent and banners work quite well too.

I personally think these boats look best in larger groups, especially when they’re part of a small harbor or perhaps a small war fleet.

How to Build Massive Wings in Minecraft

After the explosive popularity of my flying creeper and pig, people started to ask me how I made those wings. It may seem impossible to start building these enormous wings, but they’re quite easy. In fact, the wings on the creeper are the first wings I’ve ever built. Of course, if you’re not an experienced builder (especially terraforming), building the wings can still pose a big challenge, but this guide should help you a lot.

In this article I mainly cover the angel-like wings of the flying pig, but the same rules, guidelines and tips and tricks apply to pretty much all forms of wings, as shown by the other examples in this guide.

A 2D start

By far the easiest way to start building your wings is to first create a 2D outline of the wings you want. This will give you a good idea of how big your wings will be, how far they stretch and you’ll be able to make some easy and quick changes to your design.

Of course, the design of your wings may be the biggest challenge, because how do you build the shape of specific wings? Experienced builders, pixel artist or other people who work with graphics a lot will probably be able to build a good wing shape, but for those who don’t know how to do this, there’s a very easy solution.

minecraft wing building tutorial image

Simply copy an existing wing design. This will of course only work for 2D images, but that’s exactly what we’re after. Simply search Google for any images of wings, preferably pixel art wings. Pokemon and other such programs often have very simplified pixel versions available, which can be copied quite easily. Make sure you find an image with clear pixels, as you will copy those pixels in minecraft by replacing each pixel with a block, as seen in the image below.

minecraft wing building tutorial image
Also make sure the wings are positioned as much towards the front as possible, as any sharp angle will make the minecraft version look weird, unless you extend the wings yourself of course.

The 3D wire frame

Now that we have our 2D outline it’s time to turn it into a 3D wire frame-like structure. This will be the base of our entire wing and it will pretty much define the end shape of our wings, though I often make little changes while I finish the wings.

Creating this 3D wire frame is very easy, all you do is change the position of the blocks of our 2D outline. However, make sure you use the right positions for each part of the wing. The top of the wings will usually extend outwards, while the bottom of the wings will generally float with the wind towards the back.

Also keep in mind that each wing section (feather or otherwise) usually overlaps the other one, so also change the positions of those blocks, this will make the end result look less flat.

In the image below, the pink and red layers of wool show the original position of our 2D outline.

minecraft wing building tutorial image minecraft wing building tutorial image minecraft wing building tutorial image

Once you’ve finished this 3D wire frame the result is already taking shape and you can start to see how it will look. However, the real challenge starts now, as the next few steps will have many moments in which your wing will look horrible and odd, but don’t get discouraged, simply keep going and the wing will start to look good once you reach the end.

Add a layer of depth

Simply filling in all the emptiness in our wings will make it look flat and horrible, so we have to add depth and make sure everything overlaps quite smoothly into each other. This isn’t a difficult process, though it can be time consuming and frustrating, especially when it seems your wing is only starting to look worse and worse, but stick with it, it’ll start to look good as we progress.

I usually first start to go around all the edges of our 3D wire frame and extend it inwards by 2 blocks, but 1 block deeper than our edge. This will look quite odd once you’ve done the whole wing, but this is a good step to find out the problem areas in the wings, which are usually corners and places where 2 different depths meet.

Some parts of the wing won’t look right if you use a layer that’s 2 blocks long, so I use 2 layers of 1 block, each time going 1 block deeper.

minecraft wing building tutorial image

After you’ve finished this step it’s time to smooth things out a little. Make the problem areas look better by making the transitions between the different depths easier. People who terra form (build landscapes) in minecraft will find this quite easy, but make sure you follow the shape of your wings, we’re building a wing not a mountain.

minecraft wing building tutorial image

The wings will begin to look quite good now, though we’re far from done.

Extend the depth

A single layer of depth is not enough to make the wings look impressive and less flat, so we continue to build upon our depth by adding another layer. The length of this layer hugely depends on the shape of the wings, but the top of the wings usually have longer, more gradually increasing depth layers, while the wing tips and other feather-like parts of the wings will have a depth increase pretty much every 1 or 2 blocks.

For now we simply extend the wing by another 2 blocks, at an increased depth. The next step will determine our maximum depth and the overall shape of our layers.

minecraft wing building tutorial image

Reach the maximum desired depth

We can’t really keep adding layers upon layers of depth, this will make the wings look weird and horrible. So we set a specific towards which we build all our layers. The depth won’t be the same for all our layers, as the further you go from this layer, the deeper it will be. However, this will make the wing look more impressive and makes it seem a little like it’s part of a moving creature.

To create this maximum depth I usually create a large canvas towards the top of the wing, usually about 4-6 blocks deeper than our outer most layer, though again, this depends on the shape of your wing. Some may only need 3, while others could do with 7 depth layers.

However, the shape of this canvass should follow the general shape of your wing, it doesn’t have to be exact, but a circular shape will look horrible on an angel-like wing, just like an angel-like shape will look weird on a bat wing. The length of this canvas is about 25-50% of your wing, it usually ends where the first feather-like wing tips start.

minecraft wing building tutorial image

Connect the dots

Now that we have determined towards which point we build our wing, all we have to do is actually build towards that point. This step isn’t too difficult, you simply repeat step 4 until you’ve finished all parts of your wing.

minecraft wing building tutorial image

Once you’ve connected everything, the wing may seem a little odd, which means you’ll have to smooth parts of the wing out a little by changing depth layers and generally making all the layers part of the whole wing, rather than separate parts of a collection. Smooth out any changes in depth by making the change more gradual or perhaps steeper in some places.

Play around and experiment with it until you’re happy. If you really can’t get it to look right, simply burn it down (if you used wool), enjoy the fire and start over. Practice makes perfect.

A last tip

While making your wings look smooth, make sure the depth changes don’t occur at the same places on each layer, instead, add a few blocks to extend one layer, or part of a layer, to make everything look more natural and smooth, as seen in the image below.

minecraft wing building tutorial image

Japanese Building Style in Minecraft

Building in a Japanese style can be quite difficult. It took me quite some practice to get the hang of it. The main problem is that Japanese buildings have curved roofs, which is difficult to recreate with blocks. Also, depending on the type of building, Japanese buildings have various small details, which are impossible to create in minecraft, especially on smaller builds, which greatly decreases the Japanese feel the buildings in minecraft have.

Note that I don’t claim to have the best or perfect way to create Japanese buildings, this guide is purely meant to help and inspire anybody who wants to build something in a Japanese style.

To build Japanese structures I only use a few main blocks, with various other blocks to add details. Cobblestone, white wool, dark wooden planks, logs and fences make up most of my buildings. Red wool is used by many people as well, though I prefer to use it as little as possible, as it’s a prominent colour in the Chinese building style, which look similar, but aren’t the same. However, I do use red wool for pagodas and torii’s (arches).

Most of my buildings will have the same types of structures, just with slight alterations to make each one look more distinct, especially the more important buildings.

Buildings

As mentioned, my buildings are often similar in structure, but different in looks. I tend to mostly only build 1 floor buildings, I find they look better overall and it makes any larger building, like a palace or temple, stand out more.

However, the extra floors on taller buildings are build in the same way as 1 floor buildings, though sometimes with slight alterations to make it all look better on this scale.

When I start building, I usually create a layout first, by placing a dark log every 4 blocks. These will be the edges and dividers of the wall sections. Wherever I want a door, I usually only leave a 1 block gap between 2 wood blocks. This means the symmetry on the other side will be off, unless you also build a door on that side. However, I rarely build a door on both sides of a building, so I fix the symmetry by simply altering the wall sections. Instead of having 3 block gaps between the wood blocks, I change a few of them to either 2 block or 4 blocks gaps, whichever makes it look symmetrical again.

Once I’ve finished the layout, all the wood blocks will be topped with 2 more wood blocks and the gaps in between will be filled with white wool. On some buildings the middle wool layer will be replace by fences, this creates good looking windows.

I never place a door, not on the outside nor in the rooms on the inside of the building. It just looks odd and I personally think it feels more Japanese, as they’d usually have sliding (rice paper) panels instead.


Walls of buildings

The walls of buildings, like a lot of things, are often minimalistic. I mainly use 2 different types of walls. One made purely out of white wool and dark wood. The other is made with dark wood and dark planks. Cobblestone also works great as a base for the walls, especially on military buildings.

Rice paper walls

I often see people use ladders or fences to recreate the rectangular effect of rice paper wall. However, trapdoors work way better. Unfortunately, only 1 trapdoor can be placed where corners meet, so I often plant some sugar cane in the corners instead (hide the water under the wall), which looks quite good, as it’s pretty much the same as bamboo.

Roofs

Japanese roofs often start out flat and gradually end in a steep curve. Many buildings have several roof layers, though they’re sometimes too close on top of each other, which makes it impossible to recreate those in minecraft. However, pagodas and other layers can be created easily.

Japanese roofs also tend to have a steep curve in the middle than at the corners, which makes them a little wavey.

Many people build the corners of the roof in an upward curve, which technically isn’t wrong, but it wasn’t used very often in real life. Those steep corners are a Chinese style. The corners of Japanese roofs either have a slight upward curve or they’re simply a normal roof corner, as seen in the examples below.

I usually create a 2 block overhang, which adds to the cosy feel in smaller streets. However, on taller buildings I only let the roof hang over by 1 block, as 2 blocks looks terrible when viewed from a lower positions.

City walls and other defensive walls

I usually only use 2 different wall structures, though not always with the same blocks, one for the city walls and one structure for the smaller walls surrounding important buildings and districts.

The outer city walls are often build on a stone base to add height. Like the other buildings, my walls are made with cobblestone, dark wood and white wool.

I also use these larger walls when my city is enormous and consists out of many layers. Those of you who have played Shogun 2 will probably remember the multiple layers of Kyoto.

I use smaller walls to surround important buildings, like the palace and the homes of clan leaders. These walls are build with white wool, dark logs and cobblestone stairs and blocks, though I’ve tried several variations, as seen in the examples below.

Trees, gardens and other flora

The first tree pretty much anybody will think of is, of course, the cherry tree with its pink blossoms. This tree can be made with pink wool, though it doesn’t look too realistic on its own, depending on the texture pack you’re using. However, when it’s part of a city or landscape, the pink tree blends in pretty well with the other buildings and decoration. I build the cherry tree in the same way as I build oak trees, full details are found in this guide.

Other trees are pretty much just slight alterations of normal trees (as seen in the tree building guide), like oaks and willows, as it’s pretty much impossible to add specific details on smaller trees.

I only use 3 different Japanese garden styles, the rock garden, the stylized plant gardens and court gardens.

The rock gardens are fairly easy to build. I tend to only use cobblestone, as it makes the garden look a lot more tranquill, which is the whole point of the garden. The ground is made with sand, though clay works too.

The stylized gardens are quite difficult to build, because in real life they’re pretty much mini versions of normal landscapes. Though with a little creative placement of flowers, logs, water features, leaves and other decoration blocks, creating a stylized garden should be achievable.

Torii gates

Torii gates are gates which mark an entrance to sacred grounds (usually shinto shrines). They can vary greatly in size, sometimes they’re as big as 3 story buildings, which makes them perfect for minecraft, as it’s a lot easier to build a good looking, huge torii, than it is to create a good looking, small torii.

A torii is often red, with a block cover on top. But other variations are not uncommon, which are often a little easier to recreate in the default texture pack, as there are no black slabs to cover the red torii version, though cobblestone works well enough. The black cover can also look a green-ish colour, depending on the materials used and how far those materials have rusted or otherwise deteriorated.

Mediterranean style building

Mediterranean houses are often white or sand coloured with red or orange roofs. These roofs are often flat or slightly angled. The buildings are often have multiple levels, though the rooms are often smaller than that of other modern building styles. The houses often have smaller windows which can be covered with wooden window shutters, though some buildings will stick to large, wall long windows. The windows often have a window grill attached, which functions both as protection and as a decorational element of the house.

The houses often have small detailed decorations, especially around the doors. Small balconies are very common.

Gardens in smaller houses are often very small with a few tropical trees or flowers like palms, tropical flowers and (small) cacti.

Larger houses often have large pilars at the front of the house, usually only at the front door though sometimes it’s spread across the front, especially when there’s a balcony at the front part of the house. Larger houses will usually have outdoor pools and large gardens with lush grass and tropical plants and flowers.

The villages and towns are often quite compact with many small streets, though there’s usually at least one open plaza for markets. The most romantic towns are next to rivers or lakes and look beautiful at night.

If you use an iron door to make sure the player can’t go back, make sure you place the door from the inside, so the player cannot hide in the small gap created by doors. Also make sure the player cannot reach the dispensers or else the player will be able to simply take out the arrows.

Mediterranean style in minecraft

The mediterranean building style is quite easy to translate into minecraft. The roofs are made using brick stairs and the houses are made out of sand and sandstone blocks. The windows are best made out of glass panes instead of glass blocks.

The streets are also best made out of a combination of sand and sandstone, though patches of dirt could also be added.

mediterranean house image

Restaurants often have a tables both inside and outside the building. Those outside are often placed in the shade, but with a great view on the village, perhaps on the lake or river next to it. This can easily be created in minecraft by building your restaurants around a plaza or on top of a hill, overlooking the rest of the village.

Mediterranean churches are often small and minimalistic. They’re also best made out of sandstone, though additional blocks can be used to make it stand out more. The main part is usually rectangular with either a round tower on top or a rectangular tower on the side. They’re usually build higher than the rest of the village to make them stand out more.

mediterranean house image

Plants and other flora

I tend to limit the plants I use in villages that are suposed to be in dry areas, though villages next to a lake or river can have lush gardens and vines growing from buildings.

The dry areas tend to only get a few cacti and/or palm trees, though I sometimes place a few dark leaf blocks next to each other to mimic a dry bush.
Building your village in a desert biome will help a lot, as everything will look dry or dead due to the biome colour shaders.

If a village is next to a water body, the amount of plants and trees I build are greatly increased. I make the palm trees a little taller, with more and bigger leaves, and I tend to leave out cacti. Leaf blocks make for great vines-like plants, which can be placed in a spiral-like fashion around towers and bridges, or even houses. I also use the normal minecraft vines, though usually only on bridges and other structures hanging above water.

I usually build a small to medium sized village garden, often with a small pond and plenty of flowers.

The only tree, besides palm trees, I use are willows, though very rarely. I find they add a certain romantic feel to the river banks and are perfect to make a restaurant stand out.

Other tips, tricks and recommendations

Wells are quite common in smaller villages, whether they work or not doesn’t matter. They can easily be created in minecraft, either by copying the desert wells or by designing your own version.

Try not to build your village on a flat piece of land, but rather build it against a mountain or on and around a hill. This change in height will add depth to your village, which makes it look more realistic and potentially more romantic.

Try to build your town around a river or lake, it will look amazing at night when you limit the amount of lighting you use. However, villages high up in mountains will also look great, especially with a nice water system flowing through the village and down the mountain.