Wrapping Up the SS Training Grounds

For Sorcerer’s Stone only, the Quidditch training grounds were surrounded by curtain walls, retaining walls, and small towers that were slight adaptations of structures at Alnwick Castle. As we’ve seen in previous posts, a big chunk was redesigned in Chamber of Secrets, and then a big hill covered up the remainder of the original design starting in Prisoner of Azkaban. (The all-digital version in Deathly Hallows and Fantastic Beasts doesn’t have any walls back there at all.)

Because of all this, there’s not a huge amount of reference available for this area of the miniature. It’s certainly easy to find reference for the real thing at Alnwick, but what reference I do have makes it clear that the details don’t always match up. Just gotta do my very best!

I continued around to the far side, where the information is most limited. I’ll compensate for my less-than-complete confidence in certain details here by including the “mist pass” for this render, just for fun. This is a component of the render that’s used to add some atmospheric perspective. The further something is from the camera, the lighter it is, simulating greater amounts of haze between the viewer and the object. Looks kinda cool all by itself, eh?

There’s a low wall that divides the Alnwick Castle lawns in real life, and it shows up in the blueprints for the first Hogwarts miniature as well. The real thing even shows up in a single (edited) establishing shot of the location, at the beginning of the flying lesson. But I’ve never found a single photo of that spot in the miniature, which makes it tough to know exactly how much detail they put into it.

I’m cheating with all these lawns – they’re just textured surfaces with no actual blades of grass. To create those would require particle systems or geometry nodes or something, and I don’t think my computer could handle the amount of grass that’ll eventually be part of the model. Even filling just this area with actual blades of grass would be pushing my luck:

So I’m not really sure how I’m going to handle the landscape as a whole. The goal is to have it look…well, not like this render I created as a kid in Bryce 3D, circa 1999:

I can tell already that I won’t be able to rely solely on procedural materials. At the very least, I may need to hand-paint some changes in coloration near the footpaths and whatnot. Perhaps another day. In the meantime, we’ll close out for now with an extremely wide (and slightly distorted) angle reminiscent of the first shot of the training grounds in the first film.

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27 thoughts on “Wrapping Up the SS Training Grounds

  1. seeing the grass itched some sensory part of my brain

    Anyways, have you found any particularly interesting or otherwise insightful finds to do with the castle or perhaps some reference photos that you would like to share? I would be VERY interested in hearing about what find excited you. Thanks!

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    1. Sadly, I haven’t found anything interesting lately…I’ve been looking and looking, but without any luck. I’m always excited on the rare occasion that I find new production stills or technical drawings, though!

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  2. Now we finally Know the structures of 1st Movie like 20 years later. Man I would Like to see all your sources, you must have a lot of folders with a hundred of files. I don’t know if it is bad for you and your work, but I really would like to see all your files in a cloud if it’s possible, even if they are cuts of shots in terrible quality.

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  3. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I think your training grounds are missing some human statues :p

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  4. It’s very cool to see this return in 3D. I wonder if it’s worth adding more Alnwick topographic features that are in the film but not the miniature, like the dip between the TGTower and the path to the barbican or the mini moat under the TGT’s gatehouse bridge that winds around the tower.

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      1. The geography of it is interesting – especially in the CoS rendition where the midway wall and drop between both sections of the grounds disappears. For my map project I’m working on I currently assume the mini moat continues around into the rolling dip next to the path, but it’s always been a tricky one to puzzle out.

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  5. So…. Whats next?

    And is there anything specific that’s supposed to be in that part of the castle according to the original intention (to your knowledge lol)

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      1. Welp, considering my original PS TGT design was slightly off before I redesigned it off your version, I guess this mean another redesign for my Gryffindor Girl’s Tower lol

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    1. Out of interest, are you going to be doing the version from Hogwarts legacy, whenever that game comes out?

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      1. That’s understandable, plus it’s such a different style, I don’t think it’d be a case of using sliders, it’d probably have to be a completely new model if you did it

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  6. Oh wow, seeing that bryce landscape reminded me of how mesmerized by these space renders I used to be as a kid, particularly those made in mojoworld for Bejeweled 2. That plus the superb skaven soundtrack was quite the experience lol.

    Now you’re the one mesmerizing me with your amazing renders! Someday I hope to become as skilled as you are.

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  7. Hi Joe,

    I’m a professional blender 3D artist and huge HP fan. I’d love to help out on this project where I can. Let me know if there’s anything I could do.

    Is there any chance this project will be released to the public when its complete? whether its through a patreon or a one time fee for the file?

    Thanks,
    Brennan

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  8. Hey Brennan! Thanks for the comment. The process itself is a big part of the fun for me…I think the only thing I’m dreading is those statues on top of the Alnwick Castle barbican and whatnot. I’m slower and less interested when it comes to sculpting humans…if you find yourself wanting to replicate those, let’s definitely talk!

    As for sharing the finished .blend file…my answer has traditionally been that I’m not planning to make it available, but I may rethink that as the day comes closer. Still a ways off, though. 🙂

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    1. Gotcha. I do enjoy modeling human’s but I tend to work more on the stylized side, but I’ll give it a try perhaps. Any chance you’d post a version that we could tumble around online as a preivew like on sketchfab or 3D Warehouse?

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    2. I for one know I’d certainly appreciate it. I’ve got zero 3D modelling skill, but I’d stil be able to mess around with the existing elements, create my own merged Hogwarts, or just look at the final models from any angle.

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  9. Do you have enough data and reference shots to complete the north wall of the quad building in the SS version? Now that the TGT and other elements are complete, that’s really the only substantial gap in the complete SS castle, and most of us have never seen it with the suspension bridge and gatehouse moved closer to Gryffindor Tower, or that second battlemented tower just east of GT.

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    1. It’s funny you should ask about that…I literally just finished that wall (to the greatest degree currently possible) last night! It’ll be featured in the next post. The trouble is finding good reference of the lower areas of that facade. It looks like there’s another balcony or terrace there in the floor plan, but it’s hard to be sure, and I’ve never seen a single photo of that spot. For now, I’m leaving that terrace off. But the suspension bridge is basically complete (in both positions), as is the rest of the wall and the Gryffindor girls’ tower. I just have to add a few more details and run a few more renders. So be on the lookout for the next post soon!

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      1. That’s so exciting! I was trying to figure out what that terrace structure on the floor plan might be, too. Looks like maybe the steps that wrap around the Stone Bridge Tower from the ramparts might lead down there? But that would require an awful lot of steps. I agree, it’s too inconclusive to tell. Can’t wait to see the new renders!

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      2. That’s my guess, as well. I could just go for broke and create my best guess – and maybe it will indeed come to that – but for now I’m holding off.

        Hoping to have the new post up within the next few hours, Blender willing!

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