The Ruined Fountain Strikes Back

Let’s continue building the ruined fountain from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban! I developed a hankering for some texturing, so I created this new material for the fountain. I used the same basic procedural texturing principles in Blender’s Cycles render engine that I used for the castle’s main materials – lots of strategic layering of Noise and Musgrave nodes at varying scales, mainly. The trick is to get this one to work a little better for intricate objects seen at a closer distance while retaining enough low-frequency detail to still look interesting when seen from further away. I think we’ve got a decent start:

I may even end up using this for the surrounding courtyard; it was designed/built at the same time in real life, and probably “in universe” as well. We’ll see how well that works once we get there.

In the meantime, gotta build some columns for this pediment to sit on. This is where I start having to rely more on photogrammetry (and photo reference) for dimensions, so the precision does go down a bit. Should still be quite close, though.

As I described previously, this is the intact fountain, prior to the damage we see in the film. I’ll be matching the damage in my model, but first comes the finishing touch on the fountain structure: the statues! I recently learned that these are an homage to Alfonso Cuarón’s heritage; the image of a golden eagle devouring a rattlesnake is important in Mexican culture. I’ll try to do right by that symbology!

First I studied a bunch of images of the statues as well as photos of real golden eagles and sketched out extremely rough orthographic views in Photoshop. I dropped these into Blender and created a base mesh – just a very rough shape upon which to start sculpting.

The actual eagle statue is frozen in motion, twisting as it grabs the rattlesnake. But sculpting these things is much easier if you start with a symmetrical pose, so that’s what I’m going for here. Then I’ll actually use animation techniques to give it a dynamic, asymmetrical pose.

Or at least, I will once I stop being a whiny baby and get back to work on this bird. For now, I’m fed up with trying to get the feathers right, so I’ve temporarily retreated to my comfort zone to make more buildings.

2 thoughts on “The Ruined Fountain Strikes Back

  1. I gotta say, I think this blog and your project might be the thing that finally convinces me to give procedural texturing a whirl – that is some seriously convincing stone, and all the cooler for being generated on-the-fly! (I remember you mentioned you might eventually be baking some of the brickwork down to textures for the movie renders – is that so you can paint streaks and stuff more easily?)

    Also, I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I’m kinda in awe of the way you hop between hard-surface and organic modelling with no apparent friction. That eagle looks amazing already, and the custom orthographic drawings are so so cool; extremely envious of your drawing skills there! Really looking forward to seeing how you rig and pose it up, and good luck with those feathers… tricky little gits, I’m sure. =)

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  2. Thank you kindly! The procedural approach forces you to think super analytically…it’s like telling a robot in binary how to paint the Mona Lisa. (Okay, not THAT hard!) It also incurs a cost in terms of render time, which is why I’ll likely bake to image textures for the film. (It will give me an opportunity to manually touch up any problems, too.) None of that is intended to dissuade you from trying it…I know it’s been the right choice for most of this project, but it certainly wouldn’t be right for everything, of course.

    I appreciate your kind words about organic modeling…that’s actually an area of great insecurity for me, haha. Those feathers are indeed proving VERY challenging…not sure how I’m going to make them work.

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