Terraforming Guide | How to Use the Island Designer App | ACNH - Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)


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Island Designer Header.png
This guide explains how to use the Island Designer app to do construction on your island in the game Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) for the Nintendo Switch. Learn about the types of construction and how to get the permit to unlock this feature, and how to dig rivers, destroy cliffs, and more.

What is Terraforming and Landscaping?

We love Terraforming
Both Terraforming and Landscaping are words used for changing the cliff, river and pond layout of your island.

Unlike previous games, you can re-shape most of your island as you wish in New Horizons. You could make it entirely flat, surround everything with rivers or even recreate landscapes from other games, the possibilities are endless!

To do all of this, however, you first need to get the Island Designer App from Tom Nook.

How to Unlock Island Designer

Unlocking Island Designer at a Glance

Days 1-6 (Click to Enlarge)

Island DesignerEnlarge

Days 7-12 (Click to Enlarge)

Island Designer 2Enlarge

Raise the Island Star Rating to 3 Stars


To unlock the Island Designer app, you will need to raise your Island Star Rating to 3 Stars. As this is essentially the last mission of the main story, you'll need to complete all the requirements up to this point in order for Island Designer to become available.

Expect to spend a lot of time exploring the game and completing tasks for Tom Nook before Island Designer comes available. To learn what all you'll need to do, check out our full story guide below.
Island Upgrades Walkthrough

List of Permits and How to Unlock Them

Exchange for Miles at Nook Stop


After you've unlocked the Island Designer App, all the relevant permits will become available at Nook Stop. Only the basic Construction Permit is available initially. You can buy each of the permits in exchange for Miles.

List of Permits

Permit Usage How to Get
Construction PermitIsland Designer Construction Permit Building roads and pathways Unlock Island Designer
Waterscaping PermitWaterscaping Permit Creating and changing rivers, building bridges across Purchase for 6000 Miles at Nook Stop
Cliff-Construction PermitCliff-Construction Permit Creating and destroying cliffs Purchase for 6000 Miles at Nook Stop

Purchasing the Waterscaping Permit and the Cliff-Construction Permit will allow you to perform different kinds of construction across the island. As the Waterscaping Permit will allow you to build land bridges across rivers, it's recommended to buy this right away after unlocking the Island Designer app.

On the other hand, the Cliff-Construction Permit does not allow the creation of slopes, so obtaining it has a somewhat lower priority.

List of Path Designs

Design and Cost
IslandDesignerTile1.pngArched tile path permit
2000 Miles
IslandDesignerTile2.pngBrick path permit
2000 Miles
IslandDesignerTile3.pngDark dirt path permit
2000 Miles
IslandDesignerTile4.pngSand path permit
2000 Miles
IslandDesignerTile5.pngStone path permit
2000 Miles
IslandDesignerTile6.pngTerra-cotta tile permit
2000 Miles
IslandDesignerTile7.pngWooden path permit
2000 Miles
IslandDesignerTile8.pngCustom design path permit
2300 Miles

Purchasing each of these path permits will allow you to build paths with the associated design.

What You Can Do With Island Designer

Create roads in the ground

Create Roads
You'll be able to freely create roads anywhere on the ground. In the untamed wilds of the deserted island, bring in a sense of order and civilization with clear roads paving out the environment and showing how to reach essential facilities and services.

A variety of types of roads available

Types of Roads
To add a sense of variety to your town, you can use different kinds of roads for different purposes. Stone tile, brick, and even sand paths are available for your use, so you can make an island that best fits your style.

You can round the corners of paths

Round the Corners
The game has even included the detail of allowing either hard-edged or rounded-edged paths. These can be used for any purpose, including rounding out the edges of a playground as shown in the Nintendo Direct video.

Change the paths of rivers to suit your needs

Change Paths of Rivers
After you've received the Waterscaping Permit, you can use your shovel to create and change the shape of rivers. If a river is too wide, you can make it more narrow, or change it to any shape you can dream of to make your island easier to live on.

Create and destroy cliffs

Destroy Cliffs

When you've received the Cliff-Construction Permit, you can change the cliffs on your island to any shape that you like. If there's a cliff that's often in your way, you can push it back a bit or eliminate it altogether to better suit your new society.

Create waterfalls to mesh with your rivers

Create Waterfalls
When you have a river facing a cliff, you can create a waterfall at the top of the cliff to allow the river to pass through. You can combine the uses of the Cliff-Construction App and the Waterscaping App to get the best possible results.

What Is Island Designer?

A NookPhone App allowing you to design your island how you like it

What is Island Designer
The Island Designer App allows you to create roads and reshape the rivers and cliffs surrounding you. Transform your island into a deserted wasteland ruled by nature's grip, to a curated paradise with every detail tuned to your unique taste.

List of NookPhone Apps and How to Unlock Them

Related Links


All Tips & Tricks

Beginner Guides
Beginner's Guide to Animal Crossing New Horizons Unchangeable Features
Choosing a Hemisphere Best Island Layouts
What Should You Choose to Bring to the Island? Picking an Island Name
Best Tent Location How to Cross the River and Water
How to Get Furniture and Materials for House Kits How to Climb Cliffs
Gameplay Basics
What Happens When You Eat Fruit? How to Get Rid of a Bee Sting
What Happens When You Faint? When Does a New Day Start?
How to Use the Camera How to Use the Rescue Service
How to Add Best Friends Wind and Weather
Tips and Tricks
Things to Do Every Day All Island Shops and Facilities Upgrades
New Horizons 100% Checklist Time Traveling Guide
How to Increase Inventory Space How to Get Presents from Balloons
Max Villagers and How to Get New Villagers to Move In How to Kick Out Villagers
How to Get Specific Villagers You Want How to Raise Your Island's Star Rating
Infinite Tarantula Island Art Guide | List of Artworks and Fakes
List of All K.K. Slider Songs -
Money, Miles and Shopping
Nook Mileage Program Activities & Rewards List Nook Miles+ Challenges and Rewards
Nook Stop Explained Spending Nook Miles
How to Get Nook Miles Fast How to Make Money Bags (Bell Bags)
How to Get Bells (Money) Fast Money Rock and How to Hit the Rock 8 Times
How to Grow Money Trees from Glowing Spots How to Get Bank Interest
Should You Use the Drop-Off Box? How to Get the Royal Crown
House and Storage
How to Pay Off Your Loan and Upgrade Your Tent and House How to Move Your House
How to Store Furniture and Other Items Designing Your House - How to Use Storage and Decorating Mode
How to Raise Your Happy Home Academy (HHA) Rank Feng Shui Color and Effect Guide
How to Get Rid of Cockroaches | Catching Cockroaches How to Get Moving Wallpaper
How to Get Moving Flooring List of Roof Colors
Reimagine Your Character
How To Make A Passport | Passport Title List Changing Hair and Face
How to Get / Fix Bedhead -
Reshape Your Island
How Close Can You Plant Trees? How to Chop Wood and Pull Up Trees
How to Get Palm Trees on Your Island How to Build a Bridge
How to Build Slopes, Stairs and Inclines How to Break Rocks
How to Change the Island Tune How to Use Island Designer
List of NookPhone Apps Mystery Island Tour and Nook Miles Ticket Guide
How to Unlock Reactions How to Send Letters and Postcards
Wish on a Shooting Star to Get Star Fragments Lost Item Guide
Party Play | Playing on One Switch Online Play
What Can You Do Online? -
System Info
System Requirements List of Controls
Maintenance | How to Fix an Error How to Delete Save Data
How to Add or Delete Players Can You Transfer Data From Pocket Camp?
amiibo Compatibility NookLink Features
The Language Setting How to Pre-Load


6 Anonymousabout 2 months

Can I use this app on my brother’s town? I have my own switch and my own town. Can I travel to a different Island and alter their islands? With their permission of course.

5 Anonymous2 months

are there any limits to this feature? like are there areas in the island that you can't edit?

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