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Terraforming (Island Designer) - How To Unlock
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Terraforming (Island Designer) - How To Unlock

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Find out how to unlock Terraforming (Island Designer) in Animal Crossing: New Horizons Switch (ACNH). Includes Island Designer App, terraform, changing terrain, ideas, & permits!

How To Unlock & Overview

Island Designer Features

Check Out The Best Starting Island Layout From Here

How To Unlock Terraforming Video Walkthrough Guide

Unlock In 8 Easy Steps!

Check out a video version of this article for a concise explanation with visuals, if that's more up your alley!

Terraforming (Island Designer) Permits

How To Unlock Island Designer Features

PermitHow To Unlock
Permit To Pave New PathwayInitially Unlocked
Waterscaping Permit6000 miles
Cliff-Construction Permit6000 miles
How To Farm Money Fast

Island Designer App Unlock Condition

By meeting the required in-game conditions, you can download and unlock the Island Designer App onto your Nook Phone. You can also get permits for the construction of rivers and cliffs by purchasing them with Miles at the Nook Stop.

Procedure To Unlock Island Designer App

island designer
StepThings You Should Do
1Pay back your first loan (5000 miles) to Tom Nook
2Bring 5 bugs or fish to Tom Nook and invite Blathers. Build Museum by donating 15 creatures.
3Build your own house. Help Timmy to build Nook's Cranny
4Buy clothes from Mabel and build the Able Sisters Shop
5Help Tom Nook build a bridge and 3 houses to open new Resident Service building.
6Help Tom Nook build a Campsite and 3 plots
7Talk to Isabelle and make the impression of your island 3 starts (★★★)
8After the event, you will get Island Designer app!

In order to unlock the Island Designer app, you mainly need to upgrade the Resident Services and improve your island's overall rating. If you don't know what to do, ask Tom Nook!.

Things You Can Do To Improve Your Island's Rating

Keys To Improving Your Rating
  • Maximize the number of villagers
  • Make Nook's Cranny larger
  • Plant flowers, trees, and fruit trees
  • Use fences and make a beautiful landscape
  • Place furniture to make your village look even better
  • Keep your island clean (weeding & no littering)

It's difficult to determine to what exact extent each factor influences your island rating. It's therefore recommended that you keep all of the above things in mind and balance them as you try to improve your island!

Ask For Isabelle's Advice


By talking to Isabelle and ask for her opinion about your island - she'll let you know what points you could improve on.

Check Out How To Improve Your Island Rating Here!

Terraforming - How To Change Island Terrain

Use Island Designer App to Change Terrain

Use Island Designer App to Change Terrain
Click to Enlarge

The Island Designer app is a feature on your Nookphone that will allow you to Terraform the island as you fit. Additionally, you'll need different permits to be able to use its features.

Check Out the NookPhone Guide Here

Add Slopes & Bridges to Traverse the Island

Add Slopes & Bridges to Traverse the Island
Click to Enlarge

Make traversing the island a whole lot easier by adding bridges & slopes across the island. These new structures can be purchased from the construction consultant counter. Note that this service is accessible in the Resident Services Building!

Check Out Resident Services Here!

What You Can Do With Island Designer App

Features Overview

Landscaping TypeWhat You Can Do
⬇Ground・Lay tiles/pave the road
⬇River・Fill in rivers and create ground
・Dig up ground to create/expand rivers
⬇Cliff・Remove cliffs
・Create cliffs

There are three main functions of the Island Designer App: Paving the ground, modifying rivers, and modifying cliffs. Paving the ground is mostly for aesthetic purposes, but the ability to add and remove rivers and cliffs will greatly alter the landscape on your island.

Island Layout Can Be Modified


By using the Island Designer, you can change the initial island layout you chose in the beginning of the game! If you are unsatisfied with the shape of your island, try out a new one.

Learn How To Choose Best Island Layout From Here

Paving The Ground

Choose Your Materials And Pave A Road

Island Designer

The Island Designer App will allow you to pave your island as you please. There are various materials you can use, including Bricks and Stones.

Round Out Sidewalk Corners

Change Colors & Tiles On The Ground

The Island Designer App also lets you round out the edges of your paths, so they look a lot smoother. This app gives you a lot of freedom to design your island the way you want to!

River Terraforming

Fill Out Or Clear Water Tiles

Fill Out Or Clear Water Tiles
Click to Enlarge

Dig a new river or fill out the edges of a large pool as you see fit by getting a Waterscaping Permit! You can fill in a water tile or break down an earth tile to let the water in anywhere.

Make Ponds


The Waterscaping permit can help you design interesting shaped ponds/lakes around your island - try experimenting with this!

Check Out Our Pond Design Guide Here

Cliff Terraforming

Remove Or Add Hill Tiles

Remove Or Add Hill Tiles
Click to Enlarge

One of the most exciting features of this app is the ability to remove or add hill tiles anywhere with the Cliff-Construction Permit. This allows you to change the elevation of your island to your liking.

Make Waterfalls

Island Designer Waterfalls

If you destroy a cliff that's facing a river, you can create a waterfall! Also, if you dig up the ground on top of that waterfall you can create a pond on your island!

Check Out How To Make Incredible Unique Waterfalls Here!

What You Can't Do With Island Designer App

Cannot Adjust Coastlines


Even with the Cliff-Construction and Waterscaping Permits, it is not possible to expand the coast or destroy rocks present on the beach.

Resident Services Features

Construction of the following two structures is accessed via the Resident Services, not the Island Designer app!

>> Check Out Resident Services Functions Here

Build Bridges

Click to Enlarge

Bridges can be placed over water to facilitate fast crossing of rivers. They cost a hefty amount and are differently priced based on their colors and types.

Build Slopes

Click to Enlarge

Slopes can be placed on or next to hills to go up or down from them fast. They also cost a hefty amount and are differently priced based on their colors and types.

Decorate Your Island With Custom Designs

Make Unique Paths & Flooring With Custom Designs


Besides using the Island Designer app, you can also change the mood of your island by making unique paths with custom designs. Check out beautiful designs ACNH creators made from the guide below!

Check Out Best Custom Designs For Path & Floor From Here

Island Design Related Articles

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Tom Nook 3

Hey!! I'm here! Well, you need to reach 3 star rating if you want my island designer app. Yes yes!

Atlas 2

You can also do the ghost mission to increase island score

Anonymous 1

Upgrading Nook's Cranny is not required to unlock the Island designer app.

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