3D Catan. Designed, 3D Printed and Painted.




Introduction: 3D Catan. Designed, 3D Printed and Painted.

The Settlers of Catan designed by Klaus Teuber is an award-winning strategy game where players collect resources and use them to build roads, settlements and cities on their way to victory. The board itself is variable, making each game a little different from the next.

We are a couple who often host game nights with our flat. We have seen custom Catan sets made frequently and decided we wanted to make our own custom designed, 3D printed and Painted set to make the game more immersive.

This instructable will show you how we turned the original Catan into 3D Catan.

Note: You must still purchase a copy of the game in order to have access to the resource and development cards.



  • PLA plastic
  • Paint (Red, Blue, Yellow, Black, White)
  • PVA glue


  • 3D printer (we used our Anycubic i3 Mega)
  • Snips
  • Hobby knife
  • Files
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Plastic lids (to mix paint)
  • Tissue paper

Step 1: Design the Models

We designed custom 3D game pieces in Blender version 2.79, an open source free CAD program. If you haven't heard of it, we highly recommend you check it out! However that is beyond the scope of this Instructable. Download Blender here: https://www.blender.org

All the hex tiles we designed are completely unique from one-another to make the game board even more immersive and detailed.

One of the files we have included for you is a blank hex tile. You don't need to print it but if you decide to learn Blender or already know a CAD program, you can use it it build your own custom tiles on top of.

We have attached all files we have created for you to use.

Step 2: 3D Print the Models

We 3D printed all our models on our Anycubic i3 Mega. The total time taken to print all the models was around ~80 hours. The amount of 1.75mm PLA filament used was roughly 700 grams.

Print settings

  • Infill: 5% (these are not structurally critical parts).
  • Layer height for hex tiles: 0.2mm (you can go lower to get a more detailed print but the time will increase)
  • Layer height for dragon/cities/settlements/roads: 0.1mm
  • Support: Only for the dragon.

Print color

You can use any colored filament. In fact all your tiles can be the same color! However if the filament color is close to the final color of the tile then bad paint-jobs are less noticeable.

There are 122 game pieces to print

  • 1x desert tile
  • 1x each of the hill/brick tiles (3 total)
  • 1x each of the mountain/ore tiles (3 total)
  • 1x each of the pasture/wool titles (4 total)
  • 1x each of the forest/lumber tiles (4 total)
  • 1x each of the field/grain resource (4 total)
  • 6x water borders (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zmwxln4ezmj8jxc/AADnuYvWSwlxNjyWKAV_1k9La?dl=0)
  • 16x citys (4 for each player)
  • 20x settlements (5 for each player)
  • 60x roads (15 for each player)
  • 1x dragon (we thought a ferocious dragon terrorising the lands was much cooler than a robber)

Full STL download found here: https://www.dropbox.com/t/sHxh3jmjqr1WIQoz

Step 3: Print Touch-ups

When a 3D print is finished printing there are often some small issues with the part that need to be addressed including stringing and a flared base. The severity of these issues depend on how well tuned your printer is.

Here's how we processed the prints:

Remove corner discs

The reason we added small circular discs to the tiles was to prevent the corners from lifting and warping.

  • Use snips to cut off the corner discs.


Stringing occurs when the hot nozzle moves to another point within a print-layer and draws out a thin fiber of plastic.

  • Use a sharp hobby knife to remove the bulk of any stringing
  • File and sand the ends of the strings flat.

Flared base

A flared base is when the bottom few layers of the print flare outwards and are larger than they should be. This occurs when the bed is high and/or the bottom layer flow rate is too high. Bed/nozzle temperature also has an effect. We deliberately use settings like this to increase the print's adhesion to the print-surface. We would rather have a few minutes of post processing to do on the parts than have a multi-hour print fall of the bed and fail!

  • File and sand the edges of the tiles to remove the flared base.

Step 4: Test Assembly

Make sure to check that the clean-up of the tiles was done well enough that all the tiles fit together without gaps.

We were so excited to see our designs come to life and look like a complete board after so many hours of printing!

Step 5: Colour Palettes

Here are the colors we ended up using for our pieces.

Don't feel confined to what we did! Make a fluro-pink dragon or a winter themed forest!

We mixed all our colours from the primaries red, blue and yellow and used black and white to shade/tint.

Step 6: Painting: Base Coat

The base coat essentially consists of all the colours you want the tiles to have. For example, in the wool tile we wanted, white sheep, a red barn, blue water and a brown fence.

To paint the basecoat we mixed acrylic paints to make the colours needed and painted several coats as required to cover the colour of the plastic.

Use the colour palette from the previous step to see what colours we used.

Step 7: Painting: Mixing the Wash

Washes are a technique used in model painting that when applied to selective parts of a model with a small brush and allowed to flow along lines and gaps create a look of depth and shadow where the detail is too small to have its own shadow.

You can buy premade washes for painting models available here. However, since we were not too worried about attention to detail we mixed acrylic paint with tap water and used that instead. We used a 2:1 ratio of water:paint e.g. 1 of teaspoon paint to 2 teaspoons of water. However, feel free to add more or less water as desired, we printed some extras of models and tiles so we could test things like this.

Step 8: Painting: Applying the Wash

Using a soft brush dip the paintbrush into the wash and cover the parts of your model/tile you want to have shadow detail. For the cities the whole model was painted with a black wash, but for the settlement, only the ground area was painted to avoid the houses showing up too dark. After application use a tissue or paper towel to wipe off the excess. You should be left with shadows and dark areas around crevices.

Step 9: Painting: Removing the Wash

The second step for washing the parts is to wipe off the excess wash. Wipe the model with tissue paper, therefore removing the wash from the high areas of the model and leaves the dark shaded crevices.

Step 10: Painting: Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is a highlighting technique commonly used in model painting.

  • Use a wide paintbrush. Put a small amount of paint on the brush then wipe off the majority of the paint onto a piece of paper. You hardly want any paint on the brush! Dabbing the brush on the paper can help spread out the bristles too.
  • Quickly and lightly brush the model. The bristles will catch on the high-points of the model and the small amount of paint on the brush will be deposited to highlight all the edges and high-points.

You can use different coloured dry brushing on the same model to make it even more detailed.

Step 11: Painting: Details

Some details need to be applied after the wash and dry brush in order to stay bright. We have documented all the models we added a detail coat too in the colour pallet.

Step 12: Painting: PVA Water

Using PVA glue, paint a layer on all water surfaces. The PVA will dry clear and give a glossy coat to the water.

Step 13: Painting: Player Colors

To paint the player colours we decided to only paint the roof of the cities and settlements so that the detail from the wash and dry brushing was maintained. The player colours were based on the colours used in the original Catan. We used two coats of acrylic paint for each city, settlement and road.

Step 14: Final Pieces

Step 15: Board Assembly

Once everything was complete we assembled the whole board to see how it looked as a fully formed game. We think the 3D pieces and the range of colours brings a lot more depth to the game and makes it a lot more visually appealing. We are excited to try it out for the next game night!

Step 16: Review and Mistakes

Overall we think we brought more character to the game but of course, with any project, there are things that go wrong and many things that could be improved.

What went wrong:


  • Brick tiles - The orange dry brush was too light and didn't really highlight anything on the piece. Instead, we tried a white dry brush which didn't really match the tile. Finally, we went over the white with another orange so the combination of both colours seemed to capture the highlights.
  • Dragon - We used a dark purple base coat and a black wash. However, the purple basecoat absorbed all of the blacks from the wash and the dragon appeared black. To fix this we had to do a light purple dry brush to try and make it purple again.
  • Wheat tiles - The wheat tiles were originally printed yellow, however after painting the wheat fields yellow there was too much yellow in the tile. We added brown shading to the ground but it looked messy instead we decided to paint the whole ground brown and have yellow/gold wheat.


  • Trees - We originally had the trees all separate from each other. However, after printing the first tile we found the top of the tree kept falling off the trunk. To fix this we changed the model so that all the tops of the trees were connected.
  • Token size - Occasionally, we measured the diameter of the tokens wrong and printed tiles with too little area for the token to fit.

Tips and Tricks:

- If modelling your own tiles double-check all your measurements for the tiles

- Print extras of everything to test your paint colours and techniques on

- Print one tile at a time after it is modelled to ensure it prints correctly

Step 17: Finally Made the Water Tiles!

Hi everyone! its been a long time but we've finally made the water tiles for the set.
Using the same techniques described above, the base coat for the water was a dark blue, rocky edge was a mixture of light and dark grey, and the docks were a medium brown. I used two layers of paint for everything. I used a black wash, and white paint highlights for everything. Here are some pictures of the process! :)

Games Contest

First Prize in the
Games Contest

11 People Made This Project!


  • Game Design: Student Design Challenge

    Game Design: Student Design Challenge
  • Big and Small Contest

    Big and Small Contest
  • Make It Bridge

    Make It Bridge



Question 2 months ago

Hi, Jeff here.
I finished printing and painting the whole thing and it turned out awesome! Was a Christmas present to the family and they absolutely loved it. Thank You! Was wondering if you were planning some extra water tiles to be able to do an extension for the 5-6 players? I've been trying to learn Meshmixer to be able to design some myself but am not getting anywhere fast. Thanks.


Answer 5 weeks ago

Hi! I think you made a beautiful set, the colors give me pirate vibes! I am currently also in the process of making this project, but was wondering if you might be willing to share the files for the docks with me, I really like what you have done with them! I intend to learn to make such pieces myself but don't have the time yet. Thanks in advance :)


Question 7 weeks ago

Is there anyway to get the ocean side pieces without the hole already cut out of it? I am trying to add my own custom docks and am having some trouble filling in the holes for it.


@Bees Knees
Could you send me the editable files please? The settlement file is corrupted and I cannot print it on my printer.

Bees Knees
Bees Knees

Reply 3 months ago

Hi, I created them using blender so the STL is just as editable as the .blend is. I suspect the file may be non-manifold as I created these when I wasn't that great at 3D modeling.
You could try opening it in blender to fix the mesh or use a mesh editing tool like meshmixer.


4 months ago on Step 1

Stl dile expired


Question 5 months ago

Thank you for all the work you have put in on this amazing project! Just bought a printer and started the prints. So far so good. I do not have a dropbox account. Any way I can get the files for the edges another way?


10 months ago on Step 17

Hi, would you mind adding STL files for water tiles described in Step 17? Thanks for the awesome work. I love it.


9 months ago

Amazing set! We've just started printing and I was thinking it would be awesome to have small light houses on small islands with the trade port numbers on them in place of the original cardboard pieces for the ports, I think that would look cool, any chance you would be interested in making those? Many thanks!!


10 months ago

Great! Thanks for sharing the models. This was my biggest 3d printing project with my new printer and it went pretty well. Learned a lot. Just a couple comments for others if picking up these models. Found a couple issues with the .stl files. Sheep tile 3 all the treetops fall off when printed due to 0 thickness wall in the .stl file. Fixed by opening in 3d builder and selecting repair file. Forest tile 4 and maybe another had a tree trunk that wasn't attached to the ground so ended up with some tree trunks tipped over and tree top without a tree trunk. Brick tile 3 has a weird cavity in the model that results in a hole in the final print... again resolve by opening in 3d builder. Also printed the new water borders which looked great. Only issue is they must be sized with zero tolerance. Had to sand down the sides of all the hexes and border pieces to get the six border pieces to connect to each other all the way around the central hexes. Would be nice if the border pieces were thicker where the "puzzle pieces" connect together so they wouldn't pop apart and hold everything together better. Oh and the little dragon is cool.. First time printing with supports and I think it looks pretty good for such small features. Overall awesome project and thanks again for sharing! We've played Catan once or twice a day for the past few days now.


Reply 10 months ago

Looks great! Did you have to use any particular settings for the surrounding water borders? They are the final pieces I need to print and can't get them to work on any of my printers for the life of me. I'm thinking I have something not setup right in the slicer.


Reply 10 months ago

I used all black PLA for all the hexs, and printed with some blue PETG for the first time for the water, so I didn't really do anything special, but not really sure what special is since this is the first time I've printed with PETG. I did get a lot more stringing with PETG so there was some cleanup work in the end, but other than that I was pretty happy. Looking at your pictures below, I can't quite tell what is wrong. It looks kind of like the waves are hollow and they're collapsing? Extruder too hot? I'm pretty sure when my printed all of the water area was pretty much solid and the only hollow/fill area was along the shoreline. Sounds like maybe a slicer issue. I've found that sometimes opening the .stl models in 3d Fusion, or 3d Builder will correct some modelling errors before I load into a slicer, but I didn't have any issues with these water borders.


10 months ago

I just finished printing all the pieces for this and putting it together. I did not paint it (yet), though I'm not sure I will. I printed the pieces in the base color I wanted for each. Came out fantastic! The longest road, largest army, trophy cup, and dice roller are not part of this project but all freely available online!

Some tips for others, based on my printing:

1) Some tiles may show as having errors, etc. I ignored this and it was fine.
2) If you use a lot of different filament colors/brands to print different pieces, keep in mind that different filaments print differently! I kept thinking model files were giving me trouble but turned out it was the filament. Got a dryer and putting everything in there for 6-8 hours before printing helped a lot.
3) I had to make the borders prints super slow and travel speed very slow. For some reason at normal settings the nozzle bumped into lower layers and screwed it up.
4) Border tolerances are super tight. If you don't have perfect edges, you may want to bump the borders up in size a percent or two.

That's it! Huge thanks to the creators for sharing this project. Can't wait to play with my friends!


Question 10 months ago

I've printed all the tiles and player pieces. I've been trying for a couple of weeks on both my Longer LK5 Pro and both Ender 3 Pros, and I cannot get the surrounding water tiles to print. I've used a few different makes of PLA, but the print always fails when it gets to the wavy part of the water. Almost as if it is not going high enough on the z axis steps and bumping into the existing "hills" in the water. Is there some trick I am missing to get those to print correctly?

Bees Knees
Bees Knees

Answer 10 months ago

Some of my models aren't the best but I'm pretty sure the water is fine. Do other things print well on your printer?

I've had an issue similar to what described when the z axis stepper motor driver randomly failed during the print


Reply 10 months ago

Here’s my latest with zhop enabled. Still a mess. Almost like it’s not getting the zaxis instructions.


Reply 10 months ago

Thanks for responding. Hopefully my comment didn’t come across as it being the model file faults. And I have nothing but gratitude for you for all the hard work I’m sure went into building these models! I was more-so looking for advice on a setting I might need to use to print it.

Other things do print well on my printers at this point but anything low and flat like this seem to have some issues. I recently printed the attached image on this printer in pieces just fine. I ordered a new filament in blue as the ones I have are PLA+ and might be causing the issues. Also going to try with zhop enabled.


Question 1 year ago on Introduction

Super cool designs! Thanks a lot! I'm just having issues with printing the sheep-3 tile? The Upper part of the trees doesn't seem to be connected with the rest of the tree? It comes loose and ruins the print... Anybody have a solution for this? I'm not very capable with editing software... Thanks in advance


Answer 10 months ago

I ran into this same problem and saw a note somewhere that you can just open with 3D builder app and it repairs the .stl file. Issue is with a zero thickness wall at boundary between tree trunk and tree top due to a hollow cavity inside the treetop.