Ruins can make jungles look more ancient or villages look destroyed and weathered down, but to create these ruins you first need a few, very easy techniques.
Creating ruins is all about combining two or more blocks which look a lot like each other, but with enough differences, and preferably cracks, to make the broken parts stand out. In the examples below I’ve chosen to go with jungle ruins, but the same tricks can be applied to all other building styles. A desert town, for example, could be turned into a ruined city by simply replacing the stone bricks in the examples below, with the different types of sandstone blocks.
Weathered down and overgrown
When I build ruins, I almost always only make the building look older and overgrown with shrubs, vines and some cobwebs. It’s a very effective way to make any building look old, especially if the building is made out of stone or stone bricks, as this allows us to use (mossy) cobblestone, cracked stone bricks and mossy stone bricks.
The basic idea is very simple, instead of using only stone bricks or stone to build a normal temple, house or other structure, I mix in (a lot of) cracked stone bricks, mossy stone bricks, cobblestone and/or mossy cobblestone to make the building look old and on the verge of breaking to pieces.
I don’t really have a specific technique for building this, as I almost randomly place the different blocks in turns. However, I tend to make sure the blocks I place do not look symmetrical at all, while still making the building symmetrical. So if a layer on the right side has 1 cracked stone bricks, 2 mossy stone bricks and 2 stone brick blocks, that same layer on left side will usually have different amounts of those blocks, or at least in different positions.
I find this to be better looking, but it could also be an OCD thing, so you’ll have to judge for yourself.
Those of you using world edit, if you already have an existing building you could also simply type the following line:
//replace [insert block here] 50%98:0,25%98:1,25%98:2
This will replace the block in “[insert block here]” with 50% stone bricks, 25% cracked stone bricks and 25% mossy stone bricks. Of course, you can alter the percentages and the type of block you use.
After I’ve finished the structure, I add vines and perhaps some shrubs (dead bushes or tall grass) and cobwebs to make it look even older. Vines are also a great way to make the ruins blend in with the jungle.
On top of making buildings look old, you may also want to destroy sections of that building. This is very easy, all you have to do is break down part of the building and place some of those blocks randomly on the ground. The amount of destruction and the size of the building will generally determine how many block you’ll want to place on the ground.
Trees and other plants also work as a great way to further add to making the destruction look good. A simple tree in the middle of our destruction will make it look older, add some vines and you’ll have a fully overgrown ruin of an anicient temple or other building.