I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not sure about some of the details inside the quad. It’s hard to find good reference. One particularly mysterious spot has been the wall that cuts the southeast corner at a 45° angle in this old render:
But then I found this video from Plowman Craven, a company that worked on some of the films. About halfway through, there are partial CG models of the OOTP castle. The last few frames of one of the shots give a low-res view of part of that wall. It’s not much, but along with the other glimpses we have, a better sense of what that wall looks like is starting to emerge.
First of all, I’m taking this as confirmation that the big window to the marble staircase was really there – and slightly higher than where I had it. There’s also a horizontal ledge just above it, and the top of the wall descends toward the right. This actually shows up vaguely in a few other images, now that I look again. It even looks like there might be multiple levels to the flat triangular roof area.
Anyway, I still don’t have anywhere near as close a look as I’d like, but here’s my revised attempt at recreating that wall as it might have appeared in the first three films.
In GOF through HBP, it would have looked similar; the floor was just moved up and the cloister removed.
Speaking of HBP…let’s start that version of the castle! There were numerous changes in this film, but by the far the most prominent one in the final cut of the film is the new astronomy tower. Here I’m prepping the surrounding areas:
The Durham section’s central tower (toward the right) has been shortened by 24 feet so that there are only 3 rows of small windows in the middle section rather than 5. I’d imagine this was for the sake of balancing the silhouette with the new astro tower.
But that tower is going to be a project unto itself, so I think I’ll save that for the next post!
The next additions to the Goblet of Fire castle were the “pepperpot” and the foundations of the viaduct courtyard:
I like that angle!
Next, I moved back around the backside of the Great Hall to begin adding the quad building. The south wall was changed in GOF – a new archway acts as another entry into the quad itself.
Speaking of the quad interior, check out this POA/GOF before-and-after:
I should reiterate that some parts of this are a little speculative…I don’t know for sure that the lower floor, the cloisters, and the fountain were still there in POA. But the best evidence seems to point toward that being the case. And as a reminder, the balustrade toward the bottom left in the POA version is pretty speculative too. And of course, if you’ve played the video games a lot, the lack of cloisters on the right might look pretty weird, but as far as I can tell they never came back after POA.
I’m starting to notice an interesting shift in myself. I’ve tended to think of myself as having an especially big soft spot for the first few castle designs. But as I move the virtual camera around my growing model of the GOF castle, I’m appreciating its aesthetic more and more. It holds up really well from a lot of angles. They did a really good job of choosing camera angles that flatter the earlier castle designs, obscuring some of the clunkier elements. But the GOF castle doesn’t really have many bad angles to begin with.
Anyway, here you can see me preparing to add the viaduct:
And now with the viaduct in place:
It may seem like that would be a simple matter of dropping in the existing viaduct, but it actually took some effort. The switch from the Chamber of Reception to the courtyard causes the whole viaduct to swivel a little, and I had to compress it a bit to fit the new angle. I wonder if the original modelmakers had to rebuild the whole viaduct from scratch or if they were able to squeeze the original viaduct into that space somehow?
Anyway, my next move was to drop in a whole bunch of stuff from the POA model that didn’t change for GOF, creating a much more complete castle:
As part of those efforts, I also finally added a missing detail at the base of the Dark Tower – a little entry stairwell that’s hard to find shots of. Here’s my best attempt at bringing it to life, based on the available information:
The main elements the GOF castle still needs are the owlery, the boathouse steps, and the terrain. Saving those for a future post!
I love that establishing shot as winter becomes spring in the first film. I didn’t attempt to exactly match the angle and lighting, but it’s pretty close. Fiddle with the slider to show what the POA castle (right) would have looked like from the same angle!
Anyway, my main purpose with today’s short post is to clean up some messes! I was alerted to an apparent error in the last post: the front walkway through the arch doesn’t seem to have connected to the walkway around the Chamber of Reception, after all. The truth is far stranger and less certain…but if I’m interpreting the bits of available reference material correctly, there was actually a staircase that led down below the Chamber of Reception, probably entering through a gap in the rocky hillside that supports the CoR. This is my best attempt at reconstructing it:
I was then alerted to another error – there were windows on the hospital wing where there shouldn’t have been. And I discovered an extra chimney in the SS version of the quad, too. So here’s a new SS/POA comparison slider that fixes these issues:
Moral of the story for me: Always double-check all your reference images!
Moral of the story for you: If you think you see a mistake in my work, please do let me know in the comments! I want to get this right and I appreciate the help!
Relatively short post – time to add the cloisters to the original quad. It is very difficult to make out any detail in the single shot of these cloisters in Chamber of Secrets, but it seems very safe to assume that these were based on the cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral. So what the heck, I’m going for it:
The floor is so plain! I mean, the floor looked a lot like that in the later iterations of the quad, but in the beginning, there were footpaths and a fountain and everything. Looks much better with those in place, even if the walls were tall enough to keep it pretty dark in there a lot of the time.
Fun fact: I haven’t built any doorways from the cloisters into the middle there. There would certainly be at least one in real life, and I’d imagine the miniature had at least one, but I’ve got no idea where it would have been, so I’m not going to bother.
Here’s are a couple of views of the complete original quad:
Not my finest texture work, admittedly. Most of what I’ve created for this project holds up a lot better at larger distances.
Of course, this project is all about the changes to the design of Hogwarts. So when did the quad start to change? Well, the hospital wing got added in Prisoner of Azkaban. I strongly suspect (though I’m not absolutely 100% certain) that the raised, cloister-less floor didn’t come till Goblet of Fire. Here are a couple of comparisons between the pre-Azkaban version (left) and the Azkaban version (right), showing the addition of the hospital wing [EDIT: there are too many windows here – see the next post for the fixed version]:
The off-center placement of the hospital wing is intentional, by the way. It was really designed and built like that.
If you’re still having trouble getting a sense for how the different levels line up, here’s an orthographic cross-section:
Should be quite close, if not precise down to the inch. That’s the back terrace on the lower left and the quad itself in the middle.
Next, tackling the walkways out in front of the quad building, connecting up with the viaduct [EDIT: Actually, I’m pretty sure this is not accurate either; again, see the next post for the fix]:
That render could be of any of the first three films, by the way, since that area didn’t change at all (as far as I can tell).
Where do we go from here? The last remaining major castle structure is the lower walkway (around the bottom right corner of that render) and the terrace to which it likely led in the first two films. But it would be an understatement to say that I’m having trouble finding good reference for that area. Still not sure what I’m going to do about that.
One thing I am sure of? It’s been way too long since we’ve done a nighttime render! Like, waaaaaay too long. Almost a year. The model was half its current size! Here are a few nighttime shots of the Azkaban version to help rectify the situation. See you next time!
There’s just no getting around it. Also known as the paved courtyard or Gloucester courtyard, this squarish space is nestled within one of the castle’s main buildings, between the marble staircase tower and Gryffindor Tower. It survived through all the films, but not without significant changes.
The later iterations are simpler and better documented. They even provide some valuable clues about the earlier designs. But there are outstanding questions about those earlier designs, for which reference is very scarce.
Based on the overhead shot from Chamber of Secrets, the original quad was ringed by cloisters and sat deeper within the building. One interesting result is that the big arch near the grand staircase tower couldn’t have led into the quad as it did in later versions. Best guess based on the available information is that this path ended some sort of balustrade, allowing students to look down into the quad, some 60 feet below.
You can get some sense of it as I start to rough out the geometry inside the original quad. Notice how high up that arch is, relative to the floor:
It’s a little easier to see if we take a look at the front of the castle (and get the viaduct out of the way):
See that shaded wall below the archway? Yeah…the quad floor is all the way down at the bottom of that wall. Crazy low, right? That depth is taken from photogrammetry of the COS overhead shot, by the way. It almost perfectly matches the elevation of the terrace in the back of the building.
Anyway, the regular spacing of the Gloucester Cathedral-inspired windows within the quad forced me to adjust the roofs a bit. The results should be more accurate now than they were before. Here’s an untextured work-in-progress view as I attempted to work out all the spacings and block in the cloisters below:
The balustrade in the foreground is conjectural. The closest thing I have to evidence of its existence is an aerial illustration of the castle by Michael Bramman for The Sunday Times Magazine. It was done before production on the second film, based on a mixture of blueprints, production stills, limited access to the miniature itself, and “a cardboard model which had enough of the of the basic elements to give [him] an idea of the school in its entirety” (source). This is how he painted the archway:
Certainly some sort of lip there – either a balustrade or a parapet. Impossible to tell. For my model, I’m using the design of the other balustrade nearby, between the Great Hall and the marble staircase tower.
Here’s a fully rendered view, similar to the untextured one above, but with some progress on the windows. These happen to correspond to the corridor to the Fat Lady’s portrait in the first film:
I’ve actually already recreated this window design, way back in 2019, at the base of the quad’s south exterior facade:
But back then, I was working with a lot less reference material, so the results were less accurate. Here’s a somewhat comparable angle with those lower windows redone:
Granted, the differences aren’t that noticeable from this distance. But I still feel better, haha!
The details are easier to make out in this render of the similar windows (and others) inside the quad. Fun fact: this is what you’d see if your face was pressed up against the big window by the moving staircases. Maybe at some point I’ll go back into my model of that space and replace the more generic scenic backdrop outside the window with a more “correct” view like this:
Speaking of that window…I have no direct evidence that it was ever included in the exterior model, but I’m strongly inclined to believe it was/is there. I decided to simply import that window from my grand staircase interior model and adapt it for exterior viewing. I kept the imagined real-world scale from the interior model and based the placement of the window on the GoF-era Noble Collection sculpture of Hogwarts:
As a reminder, here’s what it looks like from the inside:
Of course, please don’t take any the exterior details here as gospel. I’m doing my best to reach reasonable conclusions, but when it comes to the quad, I can’t be anywhere near as sure as I am in a lot of other parts of the model.
Next up will be the actual floor of the quad, the fountain, and the cloisters. I’ll save that for the next post. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a screenshot of something else I’ve been starting to work on. When this whole project is finally finished, I want to provide multiple modalities for you to explore the castle’s shifting architecture. One of those will be a gallery of renders with buttons that will change between different versions of the castle.
Still focusing exclusively on the Prisoner of Azkaban version of the castle. I’ve continued working my way counterclockwise (anticlockwise, to Harry and his Brit friends) around the quad building. The south wall is now complete.
If some of this architecture looks pretty unfamiliar, there’s a good reason for that: you never get a good look at this wall in the films, at least in this design iteration. Finding adequate references for the buttresses and the arch-shaped depression was quite a challenge, and there’s still a bit of guesswork on some of the details, but it should be pretty accurate. The tracery on the windows between the buttresses was particularly tough…there are no closeup shots of these that I can find anywhere, and they vanished in OOTP, so it’s not like you can go photograph them on the miniature in the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. But I lucked out and discovered that the same window design was used inside the quad (AKA paved courtyard) in the OOTP video game, and that provided some good reference. (Speaking of windows, the windows in this render really show how hollow the quad building is right now. Eventually, I’ll have everything filled in so you’re not looking straight through from one side of the building to the other.)
It’s a short post for today, but that’s just because I want to be able to devote the next post to the major element I’m working on this evening: the castle’s main tower, variously known as the marble staircase tower, the turris magnus, or Dumbledore’s tower. I’ve had a very simple version of the tower in there since the start of the model, but now it’s time to get all the details in there. More soon!