A post featuring my gridded maps

April 7, 2014 at 11:19 PM | Posted in AC:NL | 20 Comments
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This isn’t a regular town happenings post, but a while back I made a gridded map for my town and hardly ever mentioned it on this blog again, so I thought it might be cool to have a post on how my gridded map has changed over time and how it’s helped me make decisions about my town. But please don’t feel like you have to read it if this sort of thing doesn’t interest you — heck, it might not interest anybody xP

The start:


This is how my town was when I first made the map on day 10 or so, with trees and houses scattered randomly all over the place in their unaltered initial positions. (And whoops, I hadn’t filled in all the ocean spaces blue yet. :P) I tried to play it cool in my early AC:NL posts, but I was pretty unhappy with my town for a while. I was spoiled by my AC:WW town, which I had highly developed and customized to my liking, and which had pre-set house locations that made sense with my town’s layout and the paths I set up, had no rocks that got on my nerves, etc. Meanwhile in my AC:NL town I had no idea how I was going to make paths that would satisfy me with this layout of houses, it seemed like such a mess. And I was reading stuff on forums about how everyone hated curvy rivers and that straight rivers were the best… I wondered if I should reset because of those things. (But in the end, I’m glad I stuck with my town and I’ve grown to appreciate my river)


Early plans:
Then I started using the map for planning things, not just recording things in my town as they currently were. My town — and New Leaf as a whole — were still new to me, and I had no idea what I was doing at first xP I don’t like these plans and I’m glad I didn’t go through with them in the end, but you have to start somewhere I guess!

Map plan 1:

Things of note in this plan:
The main pattern paths on the north side of town (shown in pink) were much different than they are today, especially the path to the town hall, which was then much closer — just three spaces away from the doorway! I planned to add some PWPs+landscaping in front of the path to the town hall, not directly in front of the town hall itself.
The dirt paths on the south side of town (shown in brown) were much more winding than they are today. I just really liked the idea of winding dirt paths.
Lyra’s house was very close to the town hall; I figured since they were both going to have the “fairytale” style, they might look good next to each other.
– I was thinking about putting the Cafe in the top part of town, to add another building to a sort of “second Main Street” formed by Re-Tail, the train station, etc.
Violet’s house was by the waterfall, which I later changed.

Map plan 2:

Things of note in this plan:
– In this version I had planned for the Cafe to go in the central river nook, with a flower clock behind it, and an awkward path connecting both together… oh dear. 😛 (Now I realize that I don’t have to have a path to every little thing, if it doesn’t look good to have a path there!)
– In this version, my plan for Lyra’s house location matches up with the final location I ended up going with! Though the path connecting the train station, the town hall, and Lyra’s house is different now.
– I hadn’t figured out my dream neighbors or their locations yet, but I just kind of drew up some house locations around town that I thought might not look too bad (?)
– I started to think about locations for public works like a windmill, lighthouse, hot spring, wisteria trellis, fairytale clock, etc.


Town hall troubles:
Even before New Leaf came out, I had planned on making my fairytale train station and town hall “focal points” of my town as far as landscaping. The train station was pretty easy (I just put a 3×3 fountain in front of it), but I found it especially difficult in the beginning to figure out how to best landscape the town hall. I tried a few different things, like a bell and statue fountain, but neither really satisfied me.

Then I became really fixated on the idea of having an elaborate garden of bushes, fountains, and topiaries in front of the town hall that was reminiscent of a traditional French garden (example). I think it’s pretty funny to look back on my different plans for this idea! I didn’t know about the bush-planting rules/limits at this point 😆

(For reference, lime green=bushes, dark green=topiaries, medium green=trees, light blue=fountain, orange=flower clock, black=rock)









I was like “I must…figure…this out…somehow…!” *sob*


Things start to come together:

After mulling over those weird, complicated plans for a while, I finally started to have a few lightbulb(!) moments where things clicked into place in my plans in a much more simple, elegant, organized, and structured way. These were some of my moments of realization, and they didn’t happen all at the same time:

Instead of trying to force a complicated layout of bushes and fountains in front of the town hall, which will never work well because of the rocks nearby, why don’t I just move this landscaping idea in front of Estel’s house instead? (And even after I had this lightbulb moment, it still took me a lot of trial-and-error, wasted bush starts, and demolished PWPs before I arrived at the garden layout I have today!)

Then I thought if I’m going to have an elaborate garden in front of Estel’s house, maybe I should extend it all the way to the cliff/waterfall, and move Violet’s house (which was near the waterfall) to a different location — the nook in the river near the town tree? That way I can put a wisteria trellis leading up to the doorway, instead of behind the house like it was before.

I decided to make the dirt paths on the south side of town more direct instead of winding, so that I could have room to fit more stuff (villager houses, PWPs, trees and gardens) and make the paths more efficient at the same time.

Instead of having the path to the town hall right in front of the doorway, with landscaping below the path, I could move the path farther down, and then do some landscaping above the path. This would also connect well to create a really long, straight, horizontal path across town (connecting Re-Tail, the train station, and Lyra’s house) — an elegant, simple, and convenient solution!

For the entrance to the town hall, I just started off by putting a bunch of spare lilies and violets in a color gradient, since I didn’t know what else to do with the flowers. But I ended up falling in love with this, so it became my permanent town hall feature 🙂 (Unless something even more awesome comes to mind later, or something.)

I decided eventually that I don’t really need a cafe in Citalune, so I stopped worrying about how I could fit it into my plans. If there was like a fairytale-style cafe/restaurant or something, sure, that would be cool. But I didn’t think the cafe would fit my town very much, and I didn’t want to use up valuable space on the cafe that could be used for other things instead that would excite me more (like a special garden or park in the central river nook/peninsula).

After a lot of thought, I figured out what all my dream neighbors were and picked out locations for them that would be most fitting for their house styles. Most of them are placed along a narrow strip that might have otherwise been a wasted, useless piece of land — and now it’s like a cute little residential area filled with fairytale-style houses, and I love it!

I think you can see how all my lightbulb moments came together to form my current town plans, which are much improved from my early plans:

Just to be clear, though, this isn’t my final plan for my town! Once I get all my dream neighbors I can start improving PWP placements since I won’t have to worry about the reset trick anymore. Right now many of my streetlights are solely placed for house-repelling purposes.
(Oh and there’s a typo; the house labelled “Erik” should be labelled “Rod”)


Other uses of the map:

The map can be useful for planning gardens and flower arrangements as well! Most of the time I don’t feel the need to plot flowers on my gridded map, but if I want a certain arrangement of flowers to look super fancy, then it can come in handy.

I used it to plan out the layout of roses in front of Lyra’s house:


And when I was re-doing the layout of lilies and violets in front of the town hall (in late Autumn):


The winter version:



How I made the map:

If anyone manages to get through this post, I feel like a question that might arise is how I made the gridded map in the first place, so I’ll go ahead and address that! Though this is just the way that I made it, not the way it has to be made. Many people like doing these maps on graph paper instead, for example.

Step 1:) I made two patterns, each a different color and which would be easy to count. You can see the ones I made in the background of this picture:


Step 2:) AC:NL towns are 5 acres wide and 4 acres tall, with each acre being 16×16 spaces. Starting below the train tracks in a corner of town, and working my way across town, I laid down patterns to show the borders of the acres, like this:


Step 3:) Then, focusing on one acre at a time, I started recording the different features in my town on a blank gridded map: buildings, rocks, water, the cliff-line, etc. I used holes and patterns to measure the distances.

Step 4:) I double-checked everything and saved my map, then I picked up all the patterns. If you think to do this, you can always just reset without saving after completing your map, so that you don’t have to pick up the patterns again like I did 😛


Well, that’s about it for this long technical post xP It’s just that I’ve been asked a few times on how I put together my town, or for advice on other towns, and I thought it was a good idea to highlight in this post that it took a lot of work, time, and trial-and-error, that my plans weren’t fleshed out from the start, and that they had to evolve a lot over time before I was happy with them.


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  1. Wow, this was really cool! I liked the idea of having the entrance to the town hall be a traditional French garden, but I think it turned out pretty great in the end 😛 Your town looks like it has a lot more stuff in it than it actually does now, which seems a little weird to me, but I guess things look a lot different on a gridded map than they would in the actual town…
    I can’t wait to see what you do next with your town!

    • Thanks, I’m glad you found it interesting! 🙂 Yeah, I really liked the idea too, but felt like I was better able to execute it in front of Estel’s house. And I see what you mean about that! I think it’s because I use flowers quite a bit to create little landmarks/spots of interest around town, which aren’t recorded at all on the map.

  2. It interests me!! xP
    .
    It’s really cool seeing the ‘inner workings’ of how your town came to be.
    .
    Every time I hear someone say that curvy rivers suck, I wonder to myself how they could sacrifice all the beauty of a curvy river for a more manageable space. Of course some river shapes are a bit too windy and take up a lot of space, and some people might not think of a curvy river as beautiful in the first place, in which case it would be reasonable to opt for something simpler, but if we chose a particular map and river for a reason, I think that reason is worth remembering and holds some weight. And I’m glad too you kept your town ^_^
    .
    Oh 😮 There’s a rectangle around Citàlune, I never noticed xD And it’s cool seeing an ‘aerial view’ of Estel’s house – the French garden feel is really apparent. Hehe, I had these elaborate plans using the hedges too, before I knew much about them; I wanted to make a maze behind my cafe to discourage the area from being used as a thoroughfare 😛
    .
    Lol off-topic: I love the flower maps! They would look SO good as real mosaics!
    .
    It was really interesting seeing how your town developed from scratch to how it is today, and how it and your ideas changed along the way, and seeing all the possibilities of how Citàlune could have turned out, with different paths and feature placements. I love some of the decisions you made that changed your original plans, such as moving Violet’s house to where it is now, and bypassing the café (believe it or not 😆 It’s a bold move that I think you’re right in believing suits your town). I know we’ve been seeing those changes throughout your blog posts, but it’s cool to be able to get an overall view of the progress through a post like this.
    .
    Looking forward to the future updates, after you get full freedom with your PWPs! ^_^

    • Hehe yay x3 I did figure that if anyone would be interested, it would be people who’ve read my blog for a while or visited my town multiple times (but I bet people who find this through a search engine might find it strange to follow xP)
      .
      I always found winding rivers the most appealing in previous games, but it seems like in AC:NL they’re seen as objectively horrible for landscaping by almost everyone 😐 I can see how they restrict options for extremely large-scale landscaping, but there are also many cute things you can do in river nooks, for example, and I agree that there’s a beauty to a winding river in itself 🙂 Something I really enjoy about mine is that you can hear the sound of running water on almost every pathway in my town, which I think creates a nice atmosphere when walking around.
      .
      Haha! xP I go around that rectangle a lot when doing my daily chores 😛
      It would’ve been fun to see how your maze, and my complicated garden plans, would’ve turned out had there been no bush limit!
      .
      Aww, thanks! I’m glad that you like my changes of plan and such — even the cafe one 🙂 I find it a little funny to look back on that having a house by the waterfall was the one house location I planned on pre-game, and I didn’t end up putting any of my four houses near a waterfall…just didn’t work out, I guess!
      I’m really looking forward to getting all my dream neighbors and being able to complete my public works and house plans more, and I think that even after that’s done, I can still be kept busy with other things in NL, if I want to be — path-making, seasonal changes, in-game goals like the museum and badges, just enjoying everyday life in town, and so on. ^_^

  3. Wow! This is so interesting-I love looking a designs! I do a lot of cross stitch and the grid format is very similar to what I follow when I stitch. Your town looks completely different from where it started! It’s so fulfilling to see your plans come to fruition! Congratulations! It’s interesting to see where you started and your thought process behind all the beautiful landscaping. I am at the point now where I am debating putting in a café, but I have major cold feet about it because you can’t demolish it! That’s so cool Estel’s garden is modeled after a French garden! You can really see the similarities and where the inspiration came from in the example picture. I think it would have looked good in front of town hall as well but there is much more space for it by Estel’s house. Where do you get your dream neighbors from? I know there are websites, but I have not found a good one yet. What is your last dreamie besides Doc? I can keep a lookout for them if you want 🙂

    Can I get your opinion on Lenore’s rose garden? It is modeled after the rose garden close to my hometown (http://loftyimages.com/kap/lyndale-park-rose-garden-minneapolis-mn-june-2010/). I had the put the fountain/flower clock (hopefully soon) in the square for it to fit. I just can’t figure out what to put where between my metal benches, statue fountains, flower beds, and flower arch and all the roses I want to have everywhere.

    • Haha I can see how my town hall flower patterns look like stitching xD I do that when I want to extend the gradient a bit, but at other times of year, I think it can look good without the “stitching” 😛
      Aww thank you! 😀
      Yeah, that was obviously part of why I didn’t build it either.. and actually, I haven’t built a single non-demolishable PWP. o_o I’m sure it seems strange to people, but I didn’t feel like any of them fit my town very well, and customizing my town to my liking is an important part of the game for me, even more important than having campers or going to get virtual coffee or visiting Resetti. I have another copy of the game, though, so I’m open to having a more casually themed town and building all those things so I can experience them 🙂 (I haven’t done this yet really, being more focused on Citalune.) Good luck with coming to a decision about your cafe, whether you choose to build it or not, and if so, picking the right place!
      .
      I’ve gotten some of my dream neighbors from my other copy of the game, like Julian, Erik and Bruce — since they’re more popular and might be hard to find at a reasonable price elsewhere. Some of the less popular ones I was able to get on ‘adoption’ sites pretty easily because they’re not extremely sought-after (Gloria, Alice, Rod, Pango). Often times I pick up neighbors from these sites with my other copy of the game, then TT them out to move them to Citalune whenever I have a spot for them ready (this includes both Doc and Pango, so I have access to both of them now, but thanks for the offer! ^_^). So basically, I take advantage of my second copy a lot for this! But the sites I recommend are acnladopt.tumblr.com, villageradopt.tumblr.com, villagertrade.tumblr.com, ACC’s trading section, TBT’s villager trading plaza, and this subreddit.
      .
      To be honest, I often lack confidence in giving advice for others’ towns because I’m not sure what they’re going for (whereas I know what I’m going for, you know? xP) It looks like you’re going for a formal garden feel like I was, though, so I’d recommend roses, which I’ve always interpreted as being elegant & proper flowers! I’d pick roses in springlike colors like pink, yellow, blue, purple…maybe red and orange too if you think that looks good! I’d arrange them in an orderly, planned, purposeful-looking way.
      I also feel like an option that might give off a springlike atmosphere (since that is what Lenore’s house and entrance is representing) is a variety of flowers, not just a single type. Think like a pink rose next to a blue violet next to a yellow cosmo next to a orange pansy…because vibrancy and variety is what I think of when I think of a spring garden! But it wouldn’t be as formal-looking to mix up the flowers like that, so that might not work well with your plan (or it might, I dunno).

      • I finally got around to making a blog about my town 🙂 I was using tumblr, but one of my computer science friends said wordpress is way easier to use (and I’ve found it is). Maybe you could put it on your blogroll? Here is the address http://lunacrossing.wordpress.com/ and my username is lenoreluna now 🙂 Thanks for the advice on the flowers btw! Lenore’s garden is looking so much more elegant and “springy”!

        • Awesome, congratulations, I look forward to following it! 🙂 Added you to my blogroll!

  4. Ugh, the more days go by, the more I regret ignoring the fact that my town hall and re-tail are in such awkward places, Well, anyway I came by here to learn how to make a gridded map, and wanted to thank you on this tutorial on how to make a dream come true town, hahah I’m kidding, but your town really did turn out fantastic in the end, it looks gorgeous!! Your little light bulb moments were great, and they made your town look more elegant and polished as well as simplifying a bit your choices for layout.

    I’m kinda struggling with where to put the café, I’m trying to straighten up my patterns as much as I can, and I’ve aligned the path from the bridge to the retail, but I’m thinking when Winnie moves (she’s right in the place where I wanted my cafe) I should straighten up the path and place the cafe to the south of the path (instead of having an awkward turn), problem is, there’s a rock right in the middle of that idea.
    I could always just demolish the bridge, but if I lower it then I’d have an awkward turn going to the retail, and placing it further north would be no use.
    The placement of future bridges is also a problem, and I can’t decide how to fit an appropriate entrance to my mayor’s house.
    I also don’t know how to connect the farm area (which is now muuuuch larger than expected) to my main path, and I’ve placed a reset center at the upper right corner of town which was a pretty useless spot, but arghh I’m just stressing out a little bit,

    I’m sorry, Amy! I don’t mean to give you any work at all by saying this, I’m just a little bit stressed out, and wanted to thank you for this post, Citàlune sure ended up being a gorgeous town!! And I think I’m just hoping Lilycott ends up looking pretty, which I’m sure it will, hopefully hahah. Sorry again for the long comment, and I don’t mean to give you any work.

    • Aww my comment looks like I’m just saying nice things to end up asking you for a favor, sometimes writing can be a real challenge. That wasn’t my intention at all!! And I’ll stop rambling now 😛

    • Aww, I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble and stressing a bit 😦 I wish I could help more and I wouldn’t mind doing so, but I think I’d have to see a detailed map of your town, or go visit Lilycott (either in person or in a dream) — especially for more technical advice. But for general advice, I think for your mayor’s entrance you could just have a nicely done house exterior, and some well-placed flowers and trees surrounding it (and maybe bushes). Isn’t it by the cliff? So there might not be room for PWPs at the entrance, but that’s okay, since the cliffside view is already scenic enough without PWPs 🙂 You could also sort of make a “backyard” if you want, and include a few PWPs there — might be a cute experiment to try! As for your farm area, maybe since it’s a more rural and natural area, you shouldn’t have your main path lead right up to the farm or anything. Maybe you could have some stepping stone patterns, or a different style of patterns from your main path, lead up to the farm. I’m sorry if this isn’t too helpful! >_< But you have plenty of time to do some trial-and-error landscaping experiments, and have some lightbulb moments like I did 🙂 So don't worry about it too much! When I was at your stage of the game I didn't have all my plans fleshed out either ^^ But I too hope that Lilycott turns out how you like it — I'm sure it will! 😀 And thank you for all the nice things you said about my town, I appreciate it :')

      • Darn, I guess I should actually make a detailed map of Lilycott before I ask anyone for advice, hahah. Sorry about that! My mayor’s house is quite close to the cliff, but there’s some space to fit some PWPs, however I’ve kinda designed the area of the cliff to be a “fruit salad” (very colorful area with lots of fruit trees and benches and such, it’s sort of like a mini park), but maybe I could make that “fruit salad” lead up to the mayor’s house and that would be the entrance?
        I really like the idea of having some sort of backyard, but I couldn’t do it with the mayor’s house since it’s so close to the town tree (something I thought would be convenient but turned out to be more of a problem), but I’d love to try that with Luna’s house maybe?
        I had though about a stone pattern, maybe with bushes to the side of it, going up to the farm area, I’m currently trying to collect enough bushes to do so :mrgreen:

        Thank you so much, Amy!!!

        • Yeah, I’d be happy to give more advice if you get a detailed map going or if I visit your town in person sometime 🙂 Ooh ok, that’s cool that you still have a bit of space for PWPs! I think streetlamps are always nice, maybe you could have one on each side of your house? Or just have something nice like a hammock or bench? And I think the “fruit salad” idea you’ve described sounds really cute and colorful, I love it! And you have such unique & creative ways of describing things like that, with a word choice like fruit salad, hehe!

          • Aww, yay! Thanks, Amy!! I think I’ll get working on that map tomorrow or so, I’ve been procrastinating a bit 😛

  5. Amy… my town isn’t 5 acres wide… it’s 5 and a half?? Is that even possible? I’m pretty sure it isn’t but I’ve counted the 16 spaces a billion times and it goes 16, 16, 16, 16, 16, 8.
    I started at the left corner of town (right below the train tracks) and I did 1 blue acre, 1 red acre… making sure to count everything right (not missing the train station) and I really don’t understand what is going on… any ideas?

    Oh wait, does the beach count when counting the spaces? But even my beach isn’t 8 spaces wide. Maybe I should start from the right upper corner of town??
    However if the beach was 8 acres wide that would mean my town has 6 acres… I’m a bit confused, any ideas on what mistakes I could be making?

    Thanks, Amy!

    • Oh wait sorry, I guess I should count my beach, since right now it’s actually 4 and a half (instead of being 5 and a half, I miscounted the number of acres).
      I guess since the beach is so uneven it’s possible that the town in some places isn’t 5 acres?
      Thanks, anyways but I think I’ve figured it out, now I just need to start everything over haha.

      • New Leaf towns are 5 acres wide and 4 acres tall, and I’m sure yours isn’t an exception 🙂 Did you start counting spaces in a true *corner* of town? For example, not one of the beach acres, but rather, an acre with a cliff corner underneath the train tracks? (Should be right below the train tunnel, actually) That’s the best way to start it!
        .
        If you have some spaces left over in your beach acres, it’s just considered part of the ocean…do you know what I mean? Like if you look at my gridded map in this post, the ocean acres aren’t completely filled with white squares depicting land; there’s a lot of blue squares in those acres depicting water. The ocean is sort of considered part of your town, and therefore part of a gridded map, even though you can’t customize it. You can swim in it, though, and some people have hacked PWPs and flowers to go in their ocean and rivers 😛
        .
        Hope this makes sense! Let me know if you have any more questions ^^

        • No more questions from me! Thanks for clearing that up, and no I hadn’t started at a real corner of town, but I did now and I have about little more than a quarter of my town on the grid map, but I’m calling it a night, it’s getting late and I haven’t eaten dinner 😛

          Thanks for all your help, Amy!! And gosh, is it me or is water (rivers, ponds…) extremely difficult to get right on the map? Maybe it’s just me 😛

          • I’ve made quite a few gridded maps now over time, in Dafdilly, Seahaven (my short-lived City Folk town), Citalune, and Bywater, so I’m pretty used to it now and I find it kinda easy for the most part…even a bit relaxing. 😛 But yeah, I think that rivers are difficult for a lot of people to record because of the way they cut through in the middle of acres. For me, I would dig holes around water-filled areas like rivers and ponds, record where the holes were on the gridded map with a certain color (like yellow or something), then fill in between the outlined squares (where the holes were marked) with blue squares. Then I’d recolor the hole-marked squares (that were yellow or whatever) white again. Maybe this method could help you, hope it makes sense! Good luck with finishing your gridded map, I’m sorry for the trouble you had…I should’ve explained more clearly in my little guide here what I meant by a corner of town.

            • Oh don’t worry about it! My confusion was completely my fault, I can get excited to start something and not think things through before I do, I should have realized the beach/water also counted 😛

              Thanks for the tip!! I think it’ll work a lot better, I was trying something similar to that but not actually placing the “yellow squares” (just imagining them) so I ended up getting confused, haha.
              Thanks, Amy! For everything, hope I’m not asking for too much 🙂


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