More Training Grounds Tower

Wow, I did not mean for the last couple months to slow down so much! I’ve been busy with some unrelated projects. My apologies for the radio silence! But I thought I’d at least share a brief update.

As you can see in the new render above, I’ve been continuing to work on the training grounds tower – the version that existed from Chamber of Secrets through Order of the Phoenix. I can see why Stuart Craig took the opportunity to replace it with a much simpler tower in Half-Blood Prince, but I do have a soft spot for this rather charmingly awkward design.

One thing I’d never really thought about was the huge number of very diverse and irregularly spaced windows on this structure. I decided to start carving out the holes before worrying about the frames and panes; that way I could easily make adjustments. My reference images are limited for some of these areas…I’ve had to accept that some of my window holes may be off by a few feet or have a slightly different design:

It ain’t perfect, but it’s a start. The bottom parts of these walls are the hardest, at least if the goal is to be accurate to the miniature. You would think they’d be identical to the corresponding spots at Alnwick Castle – spots that are even seen in the backgrounds of the location shoots in the first film – but you’d be wrong. I’ve seen enough to know that there are differences…just not enough to know exactly what every window looks like. Looked, I suppose I should say…it’s certainly not part of the model anymore, and who knows what happened to it.

Anyway, as I said, I’m pretty focused on some other projects at the moment, so I apologize if there’s another long gap before my next post!


29 thoughts on “More Training Grounds Tower

  1. Looks fabulous! While I do understand the desire to ‘tidy up’ the castle with removing the TGT, I do think it’s important to keep in mind that really old castles that are still lived in are pretty much all like this – mishmashes of layers and layers of history and architecture styles that got added onto.


    1. I totally agree. That organic, layered-over-time look is something I really enjoy in architecture in general – and certainly in the case of Hogwarts. Alnwick Castle as we know it today is the result of centuries of modifications and additions, and it makes sense that Hogwarts would be as well.


  2. Who was the original architect of Hogwarts? Who does the (magical) revision and restoration work on Hogwarts? during summer recess?
    Maybe you need to start work on Notre Dame cathedral. It has evidently morphed over 700 years from a simple form to a major restoration in 1800’s.


    1. There’s actually a statue of the original architect at the school! It shows up in one or two of the movies, plus the queue for the ride at Universal. He’s holding a model of the castle, but it’s only the Great Hall/marble staircase area, which might suggest that it came before the Durham Cathedral-based half. Durham, incidentally, has gone through a lot of changes too, like Notre Dame, although I’d say that the changes are more obvious at Alnwick Castle.

      Hope you guys are doing all right, by the way!


  3. So good to see an update. Thanks for the heads up on another potential gap. I always appreciate an update, no matter how small. New pic of Hogwarts are enough for me.


    1. This structure stemmed from the location shoots they did at Alnwick Castle in the first film (and then the second as well). With a limited budget, they had to let some real locations like that stand in as Hogwarts. The flying lesson and introduction to Quidditch happen at Alnwick, so they wanted to include that area in the miniature. But Alnwick Castle is much shorter than the scale they imagined for Hogwarts, so Stuart Craig and his team created an augmented version for the miniature – basically Alnwick for the first 20 feet or so, then vertical extensions above that. He must not have been happy with the first attempt because those extensions got mostly redesigned in the second film. That’s the design I’m working on. It stuck around until the sixth film, when Mr. Craig had the opportunity to replace it with a single simple tower.

      So, short answer: Because they wanted the location shoots to make some sense with the miniature, but they couldn’t just copy the location exactly because it’s too short for Hogwarts.


      1. Stuart Craig even said in a documentary that he wasn’t satisfied with the design of the castle because it didn’t have a clear silhouette. That’s probably a reason they removed the training grounds tower. It makes the astronomy tower look taller. Thisbis probably also the reason the big durham tower was shortened.


  4. Is it possible to request from you some elevations of the Wooden Bridge gatehouse for a physical model I would like to build? Can I contact you about it? Your work is fantastic BTW. A lot of dedication in the research.


  5. Awesome post as always πŸ™‚ and can I just say how happy I am that this project’s still alive and kicking! I confess to having a horrible feeling for a couple months that this Hogwarts might be doomed to stay forever unfinished… never been more pleased to be wrong in my life. πŸ˜‰

    On a different note, how’re your arms doing now? Really hope the physio’s going well and that all the amazing work you’ve done so far hasn’t taken too much of a toll on your health. πŸ™‚ really looking forward to the next update, whenever it drops – have you decided which of the remaining parts of the castle you want to tackle next?


    1. Thank you kindly! Yeah, it’s tough…I have enough different interests that sometimes one will fall to the wayside for a while. Frankly, that’s become a bigger factor than my arms, which responded well to the PT – thanks for asking! Still a little touch-and-go, but way better.

      The POA version still needs the rest of the training grounds tower, the walls surrounding the training grounds, the quad area, and of course all the landscape. I try not to move on to a new section without completing the last one, so hopefully I can bring myself to finish the training grounds tower next. Sculpting the landscape sounds like more fun right now, but I really ought to do the walls first. So…short answer, not sure! Haha.


    1. They did indeed! They’d done CG castle shots here and there in the other films, but miniatures still did the heavy lifting. For Deathly Hallows and Fantastic Beasts, they stopped using the miniatures and built an extremely detailed CG version with various levels of battle damage. It was based on scans and blueprints of the previous castle, but they modified the design like they had in each previous film. There are some cool VFX breakdown videos online that show a bit of the process.

      The main castle miniature never got the DH design changes, of course, since it wasn’t used in that film. That miniature now resides at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London, and it’s still the design from Half-Blood Prince.


  6. Odd question, but surely you have a flat and proportional movie layout plan of Hogwarts on hand…. Do you mind posting it here? The floor plan has always fascinated me.


    1. Here’s a good official one for the Deathly Hallows version:

      If you want a really nice one for the Half-Blood Prince version, check out the book “Harry Potter: Page to Screen.” πŸ™‚


      1. Nice! You would happen to have an image saved of the Half-Blood Prince version…. would you πŸ™‚? I can’t manage to find that book anywhere near me at the moment. Thank you so much! It’s all so cool.


      2. @M.E.M. As it happens I published that so I could link it here earlier in comments on prior posts, when I realised it wasn’t easily available.


        Sadly no perfectly flat undisturbed scans are available for the HBP plans, but it’s still much better than the fragment of between PoA and GoF, or the total absence of any OotP or CoS versions – the latter is definitely the holy grail so far as absent references goes, for its version of the training grounds.

        For posterity, there is mercifully a blueprint for PS that seems to be intentended for use as a light sources map, and is a bit grainy, but very interesting to see how the castle has changed shape from the first film.


  7. Looking at each version of Hogwarts, I can’t help but wonder if they did any planning for the future. Surely they must have known they would need greenhouses eventually…. so why were they excluded from the original model? What about the astronomy tower? Was there an original tower designated for this purpose before it was remodelled in later films?

    It seems as if they only created what was immediately nescesary as if they wouldn’t have to constantly commission changes every film. Which, okay I guess that’s fair considering how labour-intensive this entire project was, but surely the designers wanted to create a base model that touched base with as much of the castle they knew to have existed…. Surely they weren’t that strapped for cash.

    Do you have anything to say about this topic? I hope I’m wrong haha.


    1. Exactly how sucessful the first film was going to be was a bit unknown at the time. The greenhouses could also very well have been added away from the castle for all they knew while making film 1, as they are described in the book. So it’s not too surpriing they didn’t get into the original.

      The Astronomy tower is somewhat interesting in that for the longest time it was assumed to be (even by game makers) the large central tower of the long gallery modelled off of Durham, especially in its film 1&2 versions with the many sub-turrets. It’s also not unreasnable to suggest that the production crew in the early films asusmed a preexisting tower would simply be chosen as and when they needed an Astronomy one for explicit scenes – and only when it came to it did the wish/need arrise to create something specialised.


    2. I largely agree with The Englanderish. There were no guarantees, and so much was still unknown about where the story would ultimately go, too. Keep in mind the GoF book was released when the first film was already in the works.

      I’m guessing their focus was to simply create something that brought the disparate sets and locations together in an aesthetically pleasing and reasonably convincing way. No sense in trying to predict what future films (if any) would bring.


      1. Oh, and an unrelated question Joe.

        I was flipping through various references for the versions of the Middle/Transfiguration Courtyard/cloisters, and reccalled you saying you weren’t going to do the New College one from one or two of film 4’s scenes since it wasn’t on the model used (and consequentially wasn’t in flyover shots of the same film). Would you consider a request to explore that version as and when you do the film 6 alternate version?

        Obviously no pressure or anything since it’s your project. I do understand that some modifications form the actual irl place would need to be made since it’s a non-square courtyard/cloister, but I do think it’d be worthwhile – both for the arch style, and the tree and set-built astrolabe they added.


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