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Animal Crossing New Horizons design illusions to inspire your build

From perspective tricks to interior design hacks

A player in Animal Crossing: New Horizons standing in the middle of a marina, made with yacht items, and a design illusion that makes it appear as if they are actually floating in the water. Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Inevitable_Street_20

Design illusions have always been a cornerstone of inventive Animal Crossing: New Horizons island designs. They’re a fun way to make your island look beautiful, but they can be a little tricky to pull off without examples. And while there have been broader trends in design illusions, fans are still always coming up with their own creative takes.

A design illusion can take a handful of forms. Some of them involve using perspective tricks, to give the sense of scale or shape. For example, players used customized designs on umbrellas to make GameCubes, gift boxes, bookshelves, and trash bins. Players also set custom design pathing, to fake the appearance of islands floating in the sky. Other tricks involve repurposing items to create a desired look, like using silos to create the look of castle ramparts. More recently, players have created the illusion of balconies in their homes, by using partitions unlocked through playing the Happy Home Paradise DLC.

The 2.0 update added a ton of new items; some of these helped players achieve the island looks they wanted, without having to resort to illusions (like legitimate fortress items, which gave players more than just silos to play with). But players have still continued to use illusions — incorporating new items and techniques — to beautify their islands. Here are a few of our favorite fan created design illusions since the 2.0 update.

Marina illusion

The 2.0 update introduced a new Yacht item, but like other items, it can only be placed on land. Nonetheless, players have made great use of the Yacht, setting it on docks or attaching it to the back of cars, as if being towed to a beachside. But this Redditor creatively combined terraforming and custom pathing designs to create the illusion of boats actually floating in a marina.

Wall-mounted item glitch

While items can be placed on top of tables and stools, in the game, most shelving types don’t allow players to set items on top of them. So, how’s a New Horizons player supposed to display their cute plushy collection? Wall-mounting is the solution — items can be wall-mounted, and set above the top of floor items, to create the illusion of one item sitting atop the other.

Wall-mounted items will also peek through the furniture, pressed against the wall that overlaps with it (for example, the open part of a Nordic Shelf item). Fans have referred to this as “clipping” through. They’ve also used this technique to hang items on partitions (normally, partitions can’t have wall-mounted items).

Animated wallpaper

Animated wallpapers have long been part of the game. But players have continued to find inventive ways to use them, like in this Happy Home Paradise restaurant build, that makes it appear as if it’s inside a moving train. These can be a little harder to pull off, because the decorative items aren’t as easy to find. Players have a chance of getting a moving wallpaper or flooring from Saharah, when purchasing the “mystery” category.

Forced perspective

Forced perspective is an optical trick that creates the illusion of a longer draw distance. It lets players create shots like the one above, where the Statue of Liberty appears to be far away. To achieve it, players will terraform a bit of land, and then use miniature items in a designated spot, before tilting the camera to achieve the look of an item being far away as a result of that item being small. (I’m especially partial to using the Kerokerokeroppi Bridge, from the 2021 Sanrio collection, which basically looks like a miniature of the game’s actual Zen Bridge). The technique looks best when captured via image — it’s less of a design choice for island traversal or theming. Forced perspective isn’t a new trend — it’s about two years old — but the 2.0 update’s expanded camera options give players more angles to play with.

For good measure, here are two great, older example of how forced perspective — using miniature items — can create something extremely cool. (Pro tip: To force trees to stay small, plant a fruit right behind them, which will stunt their growth.)

Happy designing!

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