3D Catan – A Printable Settlers Build Guide

Upon first gaze of JAWong’s amazing original Catan tiles I knew I had to build a set of my own. This post serves as a build guide for those wishing to fabricate their own custom 3D version of the uber famous board game. Since JAWong’s contribution in 2012, many other talented designers have submitted stunning models to enhance and expand upon the 3D Catan collection.

The first thing to consider is what size game do you want to build? I often play six player setups consisting of “The Settlers of Catan” “Cities & Knights” and “Seafarers” expansions. When you add the 5-6 player expansions for each of these you end up with 6 retail boxes! Building the set shown here will allow you to play all of the smaller board variations as well, should you decide to play a more basic Settler’s game.

Designers have also developed the models for the “Traders & Barbarians” and “Explorers & Pirates” which won’t be covered here.

If you’re crazy enough about Catan to build a 3D set,  you probably have some retail sets already. The Catan Shop does sell replacement cards if you are looking to purchase just the cards and print the rest. You still will need to account for the longest road and largest army cards, as well as the city development calendars which I have not seen sold separately.

All of the parts in this build are linked to the original Thingaverse “thing” but please comment if any links are found broken.


This set is made almost entirely of PLA with exception of some ABS I had laying around. Painting takes the most time by far so you should consider buying different base colors for each style of land hex and player sets. This would require only shading and detailing and make the pieces more durable.

You can also  opt to save some money and purchase a few rolls of white and paint everything. I did use white for the lumber hexes because the design required so much details (see Painting section of this post)

I needed only one roll for every color with the exception of two transparent blue rolls for all the sea hexes.

The magnetic bases are very handy to keep the board stuck together. This was always a peeve of mine with original “cardboard Catan” game which the hexes are always moving around. The magnetic balls are 3mm spherical magnets. You can buy Bucky Balls but I decided to go the Ebay/China route as you will need 1458 magnets (81 tiles x 18 magnets/tile) and they are much more reasonable on eBay. The bases are made to press fit the magnets in. The magnets must freely rotate in order to re-orientate and attract neighboring hexes.

Hex Breakdown

Dakanzla has made major contributions to 3D Catan on Thingaverse. All of my hex tiles where included in this post.

  Settlers Settlers 5-6 Player SeaFarers Seafarers 5-6 Playe Cites & Knights Cities & Knights 5-6 Player Totals
Mountain (Ore) 3 2 2 0 0 0 7
Forest (Lumber) 4 2 1 0 0 0 7
Field (Grain) 4 2 1 0 0 0 7
Hill (Brick) 3 2 2 0 0 0 7
Pasture (wool) 4 2 1 0 0 0 7
Gold 0 0 2 2 0 0 4
Dessert 1 1 3 2 0 0 6
Sea 0 0 12 12* 0 0 24
Sea Harbour 12** 0 0 0 0 0 12
* The Gold tile in the original version have water on the reverse side so we make an additional 4 sea hexes
** The sea harbor hexes replace the original ports located on the frame in the base Settlers game. These sea harbors will also provide additional sea hexes.

The hexes were printed in the following base colors:

Hex Plastic Color
Mountain (Ore) Grey
Forest (Lumber) White
Field (Grain) Yellow
Hill (Brick) Light Brown
Pasture (wool) Green
Gold Bronze
Dessert Light Brown
Sea Transparent Blue

Player Sets

I made six player sets in Bronze, Red, Orange, Blue, Green, and Purple. These parts get handled to most so I avoided painting them with except of the knights. The knights have their strengths embossed on their shields which is hard to read if not painted. When detailing the knights. I opted for enamel model paints for added durability.

* Road connections – Not included with the original game and are entirely cosmetic. They  fill the void between two adjacent roads.
** Merhcant – Each player now has a merchant piece  in their color which makes tracking who currently has the merchant much more obvious. If the merchant cannot be placed on one of the 3D hexes (i.e. mountain), place the merchant in the included boat and park it next to the harbor you wish to trade at a 2:1 rate.

General Game Pieces

In addition to the board hex’s and player sets there is handful of printed parts to round out the set:

* Metropolis – Printing the Metropolis in their respective colors (Green, Yellow, or Blue) eliminates the need for using marker to identify which player currently holds a given metropolis.
** Stacking Card Holders – Print an extra holder (13 in total) to hold the regular development cards from the base game. This will keep them handy should you decide to play just the base game. As shown the progress cards holders are printed to match their metropolis and the Defender of Catan holder is printed in Bronze. Don’t forget to print a lid!

Painting Tips

Inexpensive acrylic paint was used on the land hex tiles that can commonly be found in dollar stores. For painting tutorials, searching YouTube with searches like this is extremely helpful. Using a “wash” on the mountain hexes will give them some nice shading.

Water based Polyurethane in aerosol spray form is very easy to work with.  Spray two light coats on all the painted land hexes to lock in the acrylic paint.

Though there are printable designs, these number tokens were cut on a laser cutter. If you are using my laser cut design, leave the protective film on as a mask and carelessly paint the numbers in. When cured just remove the film for a nice crisp line.

Thanks for checking out this build. In my next post I will be constructing a custom case hold and transport this set.