GOF Boathouse Stairs

I’m back! I’ve been way too busy to put much time into Hogwarts, but I’ve been able to sneak in enough moments here and there to have an update for today.

Big staircases with lots of landings and odd angles aren’t necessarily super fun for me, but they’ve gotta be done. The GOF version of the boathouse stairs kept the same look as the original, but they were all reconfigured so they could meet up with the viaduct courtyard. They only changed once more, in DH, when the viaduct courtyard and boathouse both changed.

I started cannibalizing bits and pieces of my original build to create the GOF version, working from the bottom up:

At this point, it was just about getting the pieces in place. I knew I’d fix all the spots where they intersect once I had the overall setup right.

As I finished arranging the different flights and landings, I was surprised to discover that the steps were vertically overshooting the viaduct courtyard by a significant margin. On the left is the too-tall version; on the right is the same thing after squashing the whole thing down a bit:

Then it was just a matter of clipping off all the extra bits so the pieces actually fit together neatly – the most tedious step of them all – and adding the flambeaux that light the way. Here are the complete GOF steps on the right, compared to their predecessors on the left:

We’ll wrap up for today with an interesting plan view of the GOF castle, with the original boathouse steps superimposed as well:

Hoping my next update will not take this long!

More Terrain Work

Sculpting, sculpting, sculpting…slowly, with many hours of rest to avoid aggravating my stupid arms…

Wrapping up the sculpting on this chunk of landscape:

Here’s an overhead view of the terrain so far. Play with the slider to compare the render (left) to a quasi-topological map (right):

The terrain just doesn’t look right, though, does it? I’ve been having a really hard time getting the colors of the rocks and foliage right. If I match one reference photo, it stops matching another…if I match one film, it stops matching another….if I match one lighting scheme, it stops matching another…if I match the rocks, it stops matching the foliage. Pretty tricky.

With more tweaks in this next render, we’re getting closer…

Then I paid a visit to textures.com and grabbed some rock photos. I scrambled those up together and used them to add a little photographic grit to my existing procedural rock texture.

We’re getting there! I’ll keep working on that texture. I also need to add some moss to the castle walls where they meet the rock.

Ending today with an unrelated render – I added a few more details inside the boathouse.

I reeeaaaally haven’t built this interior to hold up to this sort of scrutiny, so enjoy the rare close-up!

The Boathouse Steps Aren’t THAT Stupid

Okay, after some massaging, I’ve gotten the photogrammetry meshes to line up a little better. This is always tricky because:

  1. The photogrammetry isn’t precise down to the millimeter – depending on the source images, the model can end up a little skewed.
  2. The technical drawings aren’t super precise either – for most areas, I don’t have detail drawings, only the overall floor plan.
  3. When lining up one photogrammetry mesh with another, you might need to adjust any or all of the following:
    • overall scale
    • x translation
    • y translation
    • z translation
    • x rotation
    • y rotation
    • z rotation

So, bottom line…these things aren’t as precise as one could wish, and you have to decide which which sources to trust, and that can vary from area to area.

Anyway, the adjusted photogrammetry confirms that different flights of the Half-Blood Prince boathouse steps (which are the same as in the previous two films) do indeed have different slopes, which is why my vertical dimensions weren’t working very well. In fact, to get everything to fit, I had to give almost every flight a slightly different slope. This seems awfully messy, but it also provides the best fit to the actual miniature.

That’s all being put on hold for now, though – I just discovered more reference photos that are helping me fill in areas that were otherwise difficult to reconstruct. In particular, I finally know what the original “link building” looks like! (That’s the small connection between the Great Hall/Chamber of Reception structure and the marble staircase tower; it changed to a different design after Azkaban.) So while I don’t have any renders to share for this post, I think the next one will cover the link building and the front of the quad building!

P.S. For the record, the boathouse steps themselves are actually a great design, beautifully executed in all three incarnations. I just get frustrated when I can’t get my sources of info to agree with each other, haha.

Great Hall Balconies, Pepperpot, & Pre-DH Boathouse

Work continues on the Prisoner of Azkaban iteration of Hogwarts! I guess my return to the project might have legs.

(Forgive the exposed interior glow panels on the right again.)

With the Chamber of Reception complete, I moved on to the terraces or balconies surrounding the Great Hall, plus the foundations below. Good lord, the geometry of these corbels gave me a headache as I tried to reconcile a variety of imprecise measurements and calculations. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, though. And I sure was thrilled when the spacings of the corbels and the torches lined up! I added the finishing touches to the pepperpot as well.

This also afforded the opportunity to check out some angles not seen in the films, such as this nighttime view looking toward the head of the Great Hall from the balcony outside:

Soon I was faced once again with that perennial question: what next? At first I considered doing the crenelations outside the Chamber of Reception and the steps down to the boathouse, but as I assembled reference images, I found myself drawn to the boathouse itself.

It’s a simple structure with a lot of good reference out there, since it never changed till the digital rebuild of the castle for Deathly Hallows (when it was completely redesigned), and visitors to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour can get quite close to that part of the model. As a result, it came together pretty quickly. Here it is in complete form:

I really like that last one. I wanted the boathouse to “pop” in front of the similarly-colored castle behind it, so I went with a shallow depth of field and ended up with this render that kinda looks like a miniature itself. You can even see the witch-and-black-cat weather vane at the top. And, as I mentioned last time, I finally got a decent stone floor texture going, though I’ll probably still tweak that some more.

Next up…the boathouse steps, I suppose? Speaking of which, it just occurred to me that the first-years have to climb the height of a 14-story building to get from the boathouse to the Great Hall for their Sorting. Between that and the nerves, it’s amazing they all manage to stay on their feet.