Starting the Training Grounds Curtain Walls (POA Version)

Yikes…it’s been a long time since my last update! Sorry about that, folks. One of the many factors: the training grounds tower is tough! It’s hard to find enough reference images. So to give myself a break, I switched gears to focus on the castle walls.

The curtain walls and small towers surrounding the training grounds were originally derived from those at Alnwick Castle. A large swath was then redesigned in the second film, probably to add visual interest in the Whomping Willow scenes. The westernmost areas (near the first flying lesson) still stayed the same until the third film, when they were swallowed up by hilly terrain. In effect, only the COS redesign remained. That’s the state the miniature is still in now, although the CG version in Deathly Hallows and Fantastic Beasts omits the walls altogether.

I started at the western end of the COS revisions:

This illustrates some of the challenges in mapping the stone brick textures correctly to the model when the angles get funky. I’ve tried to create a material that just behaves correctly no matter what I build, but sometimes I need to get in there and manually fiddle with the mapping to get it right.

These structures all look strangely tall right now, but eventually the terrain will cover up most of the lower areas:

They’re also in pristine condition compared to their appearance in the films, since significant chunks of the above-ground areas have crumbled away. But it’s always easier to create the full “original” structure and then weather away the parts you don’t need.

Here’s the same view with some more adjustments, details, and additions, but still no weathering:

And now, swinging around the easternmost area, we link it all up with the areas that are directly taken from Alnwick Castle:

I’ve also fixed the mapping of the brick textures here:

Some of these areas don’t quite match between the blueprints, the photogrammetry of the miniature from the Studio Tour, and the real-life correlates at Alnwick. I’ve aimed for a happy medium that tends to favor the actual miniature.

Then and only then do we get to the weathering, by way of a Boolean modifier. If you don’t know what that is…well, imagine carefully shaping a floating glob of poisonous molten radioactive alien laser acid that will eat away any part of the wall it touches. Actually, you know what? I won’t make you imagine it – here are my Boolean acid globs:

And yes, the glowing lava look is a critical part of getting the Boolean modifier to work right. TOTALLY necessary. 100%. Anyway, move the above slider back and forth to wipe away the glowing poisonous molten radioactive alien laser acid lava and reveal the weathered stone beneath.

I’ve still got to built the western half of the curtain walls, the parts that weren’t changed from their Alnwick-like state. But I’ll save those for a future post so I can at least have something to share with you now!

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9 thoughts on “Starting the Training Grounds Curtain Walls (POA Version)

  1. Wow, this section of the castle is really coming together! I particularly enjoyed seeing the ruined areas in their original pristine state, haha – I do like the backstory implied by those curtain walls. (In my headcanon, the Founders had to defend Hogwarts more than once back in the Middle Ages, and those ruined walls are all that’s left of the oldest parts of the castle.)

    Kudos also on including the extra wall in front of the Warder’s Tower from the Alnwick reference – that almost always gets missed off replicas, despite (I think?) being visible in at least the first movie. Also, it makes me happy to know I’m not the only nerd who spends much too long on jokes only I’ll really appreciate… nice work on that molten radioactive alien laser acid shader. 😉

    Probably the most impressive thing in this post is the detail you achieved in that Boolean shape, actually – how did you get the broken stone to look so realistic? I was thinking maybe a noise generator, but then you’ve also cut away stones in a way that follows the brickwork, so I’m guessing that had to be manual? (Either way, it’s beautifully detailed work.)

    Really looking forward to seeing you tackle the big hexagonal tower next to the steps leading down to the Quidditch pitch; will you be doing the staircases inside as seen in the sixth videogame? (There’s also an underground passage connecting the Owlery and that tower in the Bright Light games; no idea whether that’s canon, but it’s a really nice idea and joins up two otherwise separated parts of the campus.)

    Speaking of which, I’m guessing the Owlery must be on the horizon pretty soon – isn’t that the only major structure that doesn’t yet exist in some shape or form so far on the model? Awesome work as always, and can’t wait for your next post! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Reg! For the Boolean shape, there wasn’t any real trick…I just extruded a boxy shape that mimicked the photo reference, and then I used sculpting brushes to add a little more detail. The original modelers did such a wonderful job of fracturing the walls in a believable way, so I just emulated that, including the jagged brick-by-brick breaks. But any synchrony between those shapes and the brick texturing was pure luck.

      That octagonal tower you’re talking about is actually the one on the far right side of these renders! I haven’t added the stairs inside from the video games, but I admit the interior puzzled me a bit…it’s hard to find good shots looking into that structure, other than the modified version with the stairs in the games.

      The Owlery will definitely need to happen at some point, but I’m thinking I may continue with the curtain walls for right now. I feel like I’m kinda on a roll. Then, if I’m feeling up to it, I’ll probably start sculpting the terrain next.

      Beyond that, I still need to add the suspension bridge, finish detailing the training grounds tower, and add the quad and adjacent walkways. And then…wow, I think the POA version will be pretty complete! I’m thinking after that I’ll probably finish the SS and COS versions, then move on to the later films.

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  2. Glad to see more of this! It might be worth keeping the intact version of the wall arches available as a togglable – it’d be really fun to see the versions of the castle with/without the damage.

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  3. glad to see you back king

    can you give us an overhead full birds-eye-view shot of the work thus far?

    see you in three months!

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  4. Glad to see another post, every time Hogwarts gets just a little more complete.

    I found this image online, there appears to be some sort of window in the foundation of one of the training grounds wall’s towers, the one with the stairs. What do you think it is?
    Scale Model of Hogwarts

    I’ve also been compiling all my images and links in a document, I thought I’d share it. I have some of the images that were shared by you and other people here in it, but maybe there are also some things you haven’t seen before that can help.
    https://1drv.ms/w/s!Aj9tGNGomhIhmEnKHL4Glddk2JAs?e=du1bLd

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    1. Good stuff! For that tower, I’ll quote Westworld: “It doesn’t look like anything to me.” I think I see what you’re talking about, but I think it’s just a splotch of paint or something.

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