Continuing the Curtain Walls

Relatively short post today. We’ll start off with some orthographic views of the POA model, by request. This is the state of the model before the progress you’ll see later in this post.

I always enjoy these blueprint-style perspective-less views.

Anyway, onward to today’s update. Let’s start fleshing out the remaining walls surrounding the training grounds! I’m kinda doing the COS version, since most of this is covered by a new hillside from POA onward, but that’s okay.

I hadn’t touched this area since late March 2019…crazy to think that it’s now been over 2 years since I started this whole project!

There’s not a lot of reference for this area of the miniature, but I have found some shots. Between those and photos of the real thing at Alnwick Castle, I think my results are pretty accurate. Interestingly, that guerite (small lookout tower) closest to the camera seems to have been slightly redesigned partway through the construction of the model. I’ve gone with the final design that was glimpsed – if only barely – in the films.

The next structure along the walls is Alnwick Castle’s barbican and gatehouse. (This is the building from which Neville falls and breaks his wrist in the first film.) I had already done a bit of work on this structure as part of an early attempt at recreating Alnwick itself – here’s an old render from this post:

I built this to the same scale as the main Hogwarts model, so it was easy enough to drop that into place and add brick textures:

As we’ve seen with other areas, I’ve built the walls so they go quite a ways down. From this view inside the training grounds, the lowest parts will eventually be covered up by grassy lawns. But on the outside, the terrain is rocky and uneven, and in some areas it slopes downward to reveal the lower areas of the wall. It’s easiest to just make the walls really deep and then cover a lot of it up with the terrain later on.

Fortunately, there are some nice orthographic drawings of the barbican/gatehouse structure on a placard at the location. These provide some very helpful reference. As always, my goal is to capture at least one of these, in roughly descending order of importance:

  1. The onscreen appearance and imagined reality of the castle in the films (which is achieved through a mixture of location shoots, miniatures, CGI, etc.)
  2. The main 1:24 scale VFX miniature of the whole castle
  3. The corresponding real-life filming location

These do not always agree, and there are significant gaps in the reference for the first two, so finding the right compromises can be tricky. For instance, this shot in Sorcerer’s Stone shows Neville’s POV as he nearly impales himself on a statue:

I’m not sure about the background, but the foreground architecture is all CG, and it matches neither the real-life location nor the miniature…although the corresponding spots at the location and on the miniature are never shown onscreen. To make matters worse, in the live-action location shots that follow, the statue (which I believe was installed just for the film) has moved to a different corner of the structure. So there is no single coherent reality for me to replicate.

In this particular case, my approach will be to ignore this quick shot altogether and aim instead for the real location with the added statues and other set dressings. But I’ll save that for the next post.

12 thoughts on “Continuing the Curtain Walls

  1. Lol I spent so much time scrutinising that shot for references on the background model that I didn’t notice:
    a.) The foreground tower is GCI.
    b.) It’s not the Barbican.
    Until you pointed both out.

    Glad to see how it’s coming along. You say you found references for this part of the model wall and grounds, I only found a couple myself, you wouldn’t be willing to share what you have would you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually hadn’t noticed until I was working on this post either, haha!

      As far as reference photos go, here are the best ones I’ve found:




      The first two appear to be an incomplete version of the model – in fact, some of the details were actually changed (not merely added) after those photos were taken. The other two photos seem to have been taken closer to the model’s completion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My god, where did you find these photos? And why is the base of the proto-gryffindor tower square? And what on earth is that middle tower supposed to be?

        But what I really wanted to ask was whether or not you’ve contacted anyone who has had anything to do with the construction or design of these models. And, which of the castle iterations is your own personal favorite?
        Thanks!

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      2. Lots and lots of time Googling and talking with other fans! I was absolutely delighted at these finds. Some weird architecture along the original backside, right?

        I’ve reached out to a handful of folks from the model unit; only one or two got back to me.

        Favorite version? Hmmm….I would probably say it’s a tie between COS and HBP. For me, the appeal of the early castles is in their organic real-world imperfections and sheer nostalgia, and COS best encapsulates that. At the other end of the spectrum, the later versions feel much more “designed,” more planned, and I think HBP best encapsulates that. (Then the near-identical DH and FB digital versions are my least favorites, due to the reconfiguring of the viaduct and the removal of the training grounds.) How about you?

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      3. Of course the notification emails stopped working! Thanks so much! These are very helpful – I only had the last one.

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    1. Yeah, that’s the best shot of that wall I’ve ever found. It’s almost strong enough for me to just bite the bullet and build it, but I’m still hoping to find a better shot to confirm the details.

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      1. Sadly, I still haven’t been able to confirm, nor deny the existence of the secret stairs that appear on the HP7 white card model. 😦

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  2. This is fantastic. I read through your posts and I really hope you get to the literary hogwarts version. Maybe after the movie versions are finished, haha.

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