Completing the Wooden Bridge (POA Edition)

With the basic structure of the wooden bridge in place, I next set out to adjust the support beams below. The bridge spans a ravine and its cross beam patterns do vary. Paying close attention to their arrangement in the original miniature, I first modified the half closest to the castle:

Then it was just a matter of duplicating the structure to the far side and tweaking a spot where it’s not quite symmetrical:

This brings the bridge to a complete state…at least, without all the shaky imperfections that give the original its charm. Time to get those in there.

My weapon of choice was Blender’s Mesh Deform modifier, a nondestructive tool that allows you to manipulate one object’s shape and have it affect the shape of another. I created a much, much simpler version of the bridge – really just a 3D envelope to roughly surround it – and manually pushed different sections around to approximate the swaying structure seen in the films. Blender obligingly shifted the detailed model of the bridge to match.

Just for fun, here’s the simplified envelope visualized with a translucent material around the actual bridge model, prior to any distortion:

And when I warped that envelope (twice due to some annoying lost work), it made the detailed bridge underneath look this!

(This is after breaking apart the roof into some separate chunks with their own local coordinates so that the shingle texture would map correctly onto them.)

I’m feeling quite happy with this! It’ll look a lot better once I’ve added terrain, of course. And even just adding the gatehouse at the other end will help. I think that’ll be my next task.


Revealing the Bridge

Possibly the most noticeably new castle feature in Prisoner of Azkaban was the long, rickety wooden bridge leading from the new clock tower and courtyard to the new location of Hagrid’s hut and the Whomping Willow. (The bridge stuck around all the way through to Deathly Hallows, when it was enlarged to make its destruction more dramatic.)

As with so many things, it’s easier to build something like this in its original pristine state and then deform it appropriately. So I set out to create a perfectly straight version of the bridge with none of its characteristic undulations:

Not very recognizable yet. Adding the roof and a few more elements helps a lot:

That’s more like it!

As I began to add the trestle structures below, I threw in some textures as well:

This all came together pretty quickly, in part because everything you see above consists of a single 8-foot-long segment with an Array modifier that dynamically duplicates it 24 additional times. Then it was time to move the bridge into place as I continued to add details:

Thus far, I’d avoided all the wooden tracery that gives the bridge its ornate look. There are actually two designs used on different parts of the bridge, something I’d never noticed before. I recreated both:

Next steps will be to adjust the bottoms of the supports to match the ravine below, adjust the texturing on the roof, and ultimately bend and twist the segments of the bridge to give it its final wobbly look.