Instructables

Constructing a 3D Settlers of Catan Board

The aim of this instructable is to help you through the process of making your own unique 3D tile set to play Settlers of Catan on. I previously wrote this up on my blog as Make your own 3D Settlers of Catan. You can visit my site for more details and larger versions of the images.

Materials you will need:
Clay or other modeling compound (I prefer polymer clay, it stays hard until you bake it)
Sculpting tools (dental tools are nice for real small details)
2 small strips of thin wood (1/4"x2x4 poplar was what I used)
rolling pin
rubber or latex gloves
plastic cups
pastic spoons
silicone compound (I used Smooth-On's Oomoo 25)
plastic compound (I used Smooth-On's Smooth-Cast 300)
Mold Release (I used Mann's Ease Release 200)
4" pvc pipe joint
hobby knife
sandpaper (progressively finer grits recommended)
Spray paints( automobile primer, different colors for the base parts, clear matte coating)
Airbrush (strongly recommended)
enamel paints (I used Testor's from a hobby shop) and brush cleaner
small paintbrushes
cotton swabs, tissue paper, and paper towels are nice for cleanup work
 
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Step 1: Sculpting Original Hexes

Roll your clay out with a rolling pin or other sufficiently round item. Use a guide on each side of the clay to make sure it has an even thickness. I used 1/4"x2"x4 poplar strips my wife uses to roll out sugar cookies.You can get them for a couple of dollars at any home improvement store.

When you have enough rolled out (each flat hex took me a little more than one package of FIMO), use a cardboard hex from the game to get the shape right. I cut down with a straight knife then baked the flat hexes. This made sure that anything I add to the hex doesn’t mess up the shape of the base. Be careful and try not to leave fingerprints on the pieces like I often did, they will show up on your casted pieces!

The more time you spend on this step, the better your set will look. I am definitely not a sculptor, and even pieces that don’t look that great sculpted can look real nice after you’ve painted them.

The great part about this is if you dont’ like it, add more clay and try again. If you get something you really like, bake it hard. You can still sculpt and sand the pieces after baking, but it’s tougher to get what you want. Every little bit of texture will transfer to your casted pieces, so the more work you put in to smooth or rough areas, the more rewarded you will be.

Be warned that undercuts may complicate your molds and cause more wear and tear than they’re worth. The materials I used were fairly forgiving, but I have two molds that started coming apart after about 20 castings.
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Garfield-3 years ago
Great instructable, would love to try it..

Quick question: how much of the oomoo did you end up using? I'm assuming you used all the smooth cast? how many pieces did you end up casting?
CementTruck3 years ago
Has anyone ever heard of Monopoly U-Build? I stumbled upon a set at a store recently and was amazed at the simplicity of the interlocking pieces. They have 1 hex, 2 hex and 3 hex pieces. But the 1 hex is the one that interests me the most. The hidden interlocking tabs could be adapted to the catan board pieces to make it more "solid" during game play.
u-build_monopoly.jpg
thepelton3 years ago
I asked someone on another instructable comment section, and they said the width was 79 mm from flat side to flat side, and that is what I made them. I found out I was right on the money later.
thepelton3 years ago
I have a commission to make "Settlers of Catan" pieces using my Epilog laser. What is the precise diameter, flat side to flat side, of a Catan hex? I will be happy with either Metric or American Inch. Thank you very much. I will post pictures of my creations when done. 8>)
Tarni4 years ago
Ok this is absolutely amazing! I love your set!  My soon to be 12 year old son loves this game and I am thinking now, of making him a set for his birthday.  I do have one question, as I am not familliar with the workings of most of the items in your instructable (but I learn fast) Where did you get the moulds you used for the silicone pieces? did you make them or purchase them?
Thanks
Nicole
MrAdventure5 years ago
This is awesome! Earlier I was looking at the official version and it can't be found for less than $300!

Take a look at our experiments with "Cooperative Cataan"
homechicken (author)  MrAdventure5 years ago
Thanks! I played M.U.L.E. hundreds of time on my Commodore64 back in the 80s, what a great idea!
merijnvw5 years ago
this is cool!
homechicken (author)  merijnvw5 years ago
Thank you! It was a lot of work, but every time we get out a set and play it was worth it!!
Draxis5 years ago
Sweet! Catan rules!!!
webrender5 years ago
hey there! I am also building my own Catan set (although slightly differently, I am making each of the tiles out of clay by hand, as opposed to recasts; and I am using multiple colors of clay, rather than painting the tiles after), and I programmed a quick-and-dirty Catan tile sorter for PC or iPhone, which has been successful with all of my Catan-playing friends:

http://www.webrender.net/catan

Right now, it only sorts the main tiles, but I'll be coding in support for seafarers, as well as number tokens, when i get the chance.

Set in progress: http://www.webrender.net/photos/catan5.jpg

Great guide, thanks for the tips!
ninjabob76 years ago
Umm... how do you shuffle them when you set up the board?? And where do you put the number tokens? But it still looks awesome...
homechicken (author)  ninjabob76 years ago
For a good shuffle, I recommend using the tiles that come with your set. I don't know how they say to do it in the 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition that Mayfair Games sells. The number tokens (mostly) fit on top of the tiles in one place or another. One of my hill-style tiles doesn't have a flat enough top. If I did it again, I'd make the tile a little different. It works, though. Thanks for stopping by!
barrem016 years ago
Way Cool. Not all Model Railroading techniques can be used on a game board, but this one can: For more realistic water, cover your painted ocean hexes with a thin layer of clear silicon sealant. Use a toothpick to tease ocean swells and whitecaps out of it. The silicone will retain surprisingly small details, and a "wet" look.
homechicken (author)  barrem016 years ago
Cool, thanks for the tip!
nadaklan6 years ago
This is awesome. What do you do about the number pieces however when you play the game to figure out the amount of resources you get each roll from the dice? There doesn't seem anywhere to place them.
homechicken (author)  nadaklan6 years ago
Most of the tiles do have a spot to put the cardboard numbers, but they end up covering up some of the sculpted tile. If I had to do it all over again, I would either build a slot into each tile to maybe stand the number up in, or make sure there was a flat, center spot for it. We've played many times, and it hasn't been much of a problem. One of the red brick tiles is the worst one to put numbers on, they alway seem to slide off. I would recommend careful consideration of where to place the resource numbers if you're going to construct your own set. There are probably lots of better ideas than mine, too. Please share them here if you think of any!
Luvdawgs6 years ago
Does anyone know where instructions on painting these tiles might be found?
Fantastic project, I really like your pieces. Just one question, I can't see any room to put the numbers on the land tiles (the ones you roll), how did you solve that? Also, how much time do you reckon you spent on this project? I've got a feeling that it's quite a few.
homechicken (author)  Pocket Universe6 years ago
I put in well over 200 hours, over the period of several months from start to finish. But also be aware that I made 6 huge sets, hundreds of pieces overall. That's a lot of sanding and painting.
OMG, that's just madness... What's even more strange is the fact that I'm still inclined to give it a try :-) Anyway, fantastic project and a very good instructible.
flio1916 years ago
oooh wait, you could put pips on little flags, that would be so cool.
flio1916 years ago
holy cow, this is like catan gone warhammers or something. just wondering, where do you put the pips?
Wow man, this is fantastic! First project I'm doing when I finish school.
homechicken (author)  Half-Handed Cloud6 years ago
Thanks! Be sure to check out the other pictures from sets others have made, it might give you some great ideas for your own personal set. You can find links to some of them from my website (see the first page of this Instructable.
foobear6 years ago
I loved this project. Here are photos of my pieces.

my 3d catan on flickr

foobear foobear6 years ago
Here's the whole set I made. Couldn't get the bricks to look right. Some pieces are still waiting to be painted, but most of it is here. The last 20% of these projects is the hardest. :)
C:\photos\catan\mycatan4.jpg
homechicken (author)  foobear6 years ago
Nice job! I love the little ships you made!
This is an awesome instructible. I've never played Settlers, but thought it would be cool for building battle maps for table-top RPGs. BTW, J.L., I checked out your gallery. Your peives look awesome. Nice work.
er, pieces. lol
hee hee thank you!
When I read this, I didn't quite know what Settlers Of Catan was, so I googled it and came up to wikipedia, and just reading about the game makes me want to buy it! I might ask ma dad to buy it for us so I can make some pieces using this guide. Also, I might make a flash version and submit it to newgrounds...
ok, this is friggin awesome. Very creative!
This is awesome! My next (un)school project!
oh my word, this is the best game of all time. I havent even thought about it in like 2 years. I gotta go buy one again.
bmohr7 years ago
Very nice instructable. I'm not familiar with this game but just the instructions for molding plastic could be used for lots of things.
Wow, top shelf, man! Your pieces look amazing. I tried to make a settlers board about a year ago and let's just say it didn't turn out so well...
t3hr4v3n7 years ago
Very Nice, I had a friend who did the same thing with some hexagonal porcelain tiles and some sculpey, but his didn't turn out quite this good. Very nice!
homechicken (author) 7 years ago
Thanks! I wasn't the first one to do this, but the other sites out there gave me enough courage to try it myself. I thought I'd pass what I learned on to more people. Make magazine also had a great article about mold-making by Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame. It's a lot of work, but everyone I gave them to for Christmas was amazed!
I was thinking about doing a wax cast - plaster cast version.. Once my shop is set back up I very well may try it.
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