Sorcerer’s Stone Corrections & More Astronomy Tower

Sorry for the delay in this post. Loooooots of stuff going on in my personal life – some of it really good, some of it not so much.

I was slowly working on the Astronomy tower in the midst of all that when this spectacular YouTube video dropped on the official Wizarding World channel. The never-before-seen photos of the original castle inspired me to revisit some areas, the first of which I documented in this video of my own:

I’ll warn you that it’s a slow video, but I got requests for some modeling without the usual time lapse speedup, so…there ya go. Here’s the unadulterated render from the end of the video.

I’ve got more fixes to make based on the new photos, but I’ll save those for a later post and round this one out with a bit of Astronomy tower progress.

There’s a lot of detail in the main turret where several important Half-Blood Prince scenes take place. Here’s an interesting “deconstructed” view as I start to build the area that also existed as a full-scale set. This is the lower level where Harry hides during the climactic confrontation, but without anything added above it yet:

Funnily enough, this is closer to how the book version of the tower would look, in that it’s got a flat top and crenellated ramparts.

One challenge is that the dimensions of the full-scale set don’t quite match the dimensions of the miniature, at least according to the available blueprints. I’m aiming for something of a happy medium – the goal is for it to look the way it does in the film, if a little less detailed.

Here the arches are starting to take shape. These were a little tricky because of the way they curve:

Continued progress on this tower will also have to wait till a future post, but in the meantime I thought I’d at least share something.

POA Model Progress: Link Building, Quad Building, & Stone Bridge

As promised, this post is a lot lighter on the technical details and a lot heavier on the images! Getting better reference images for the link building was a big win. (Again, that’s the tiny linkage between the Great Hall complex and the marble staircase tower.) I knew what it looked like after the third film, but the first three films had a different design for the link building and there are no good shots of it in the films. I had nearly given up on accurately reproducing it.

But now that’s all changed! Feast your eyes on the SS/COS/POA link building!

It’s the short wall toward the bottom right. Okay, so, not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but hey, it’s nice to solve that mystery. (Now if only I could find a good shot of the adjacent wall of the Chamber of Reception…) I also discovered that the link building roof is in fact just the end of the Great Hall balcony. Check it out from above:

I never would have guessed! After the third film, the link building had its own separate roof and the Great Hall was lowered so the balcony wasn’t level with it.

The next step was to finally close off the front of the quad building, just to the right of the link building and the marble staircase tower. There’s always been this gaping hole right there in my model and it was a joy to simply add a wall there, let alone all the cool details on top of it. I also put the finial on top of the tower in the corner at long last; it had been sitting there all open-ended and weird-looking for almost a year!

I even added in the stone bridge, visible at the bottom right. For now, it doesn’t go anywhere, but it’ll ultimately become one of the three walking paths between the two halves of the castle. Here’s a closer shot:

I also did a nighttime render of the angle from before. This inspired me to do some more work on the castle’s nighttime lighting, deciding which windows would be lit based in part on screencaps from the films.

I couldn’t help myself – I had to position the camera down at the water level to mimic some of those first shots of the castle in Sorcerer’s Stone. Not gonna lie, I’m really digging this look.

Next steps? Haven’t decided just yet. I do still need to detail the clock tower and hospital wing, around the back side of the quad building…I also think I’m going to need to start doing a bit of manual texture painting on the castle to get the vertical streaking caused by rain and so forth over the years. Currently, the castle textures are 100% procedural – in other words, the software generates them by following complex rules I’ve set up – but that doesn’t seem to be cutting it with the vertical streaks. Fortunately, Blender allows us to mix and match, so I can keep the overall look procedural while just painting in the vertical streaks by hand. Maybe I’ll try that next.