Castlemania Stage One: The Journey to Mastering 3DVIA Shape Begins

Welcome to Castlemania: a bi-weekly tutorial series designed to turn any 3DVIA Shape modeler into an expert. Castlemania will cover how to use all of the tools available in 3DVIA Shape while you build an amazing castle model step-by-step. Each tutorial will highlight different tools with examples and links to videos that show how the tool works in more detail.

We’ve chosen castles, because they can be simple or fantastically complicated depending on what you imagine them to be. Feel free to download the models that we make and re-use them or change them into your own design.

This is the first tutorial in the Castlemania series.

Let’s get started!

1 – Before you can create your own models and re-use the models we’ll make, you need to have a account. You’ll also need to know how to Publish your models to your account. This video helps show you how to do both.

2 – Next, you’ll need to download and install 3DVIA Shape. Just go to the 3DVIA Shape page, click on download and follow the instructions.

3 – Once you have 3DVIA Shape installed, watch this video that briefly explains each of the tools in 3DVIA Shape and where they are on your screen.

4 – This video explains how to Remix models that have already been uploaded to, like the models we make to help illustrate this series.

5 – The default measurement unit in 3DVIA Shape is the meter. If you want to work in feet instead, simply click the grid tool on the horizontal toolbar (it looks like a grid with a tape measure on it),

then look up to the top of the screen and click on the “US” button.

Now everything you create will be in inches and feet. You can change back and forth whenever you need to, and it will not change your model geometry. We will be creating our models in inches and feet.

Now you should be ready to start your castle!

Our Castle
We’ll be building our castle as it might have looked in the year 1275, toward the end of the Middle Ages. There are many different types of castles. Ours will be a concentric style castle, one of the strongest designs ever developed.

Your Castle
Your castle can be anything you want it to be! It is your fantasy home. Have fun building in your own style and at your own pace. The tutorial blog posts and our other tutorials will be here to help guide you.

Why did people build real castles?
Even a king or queen, their lords and ladies, and their knights needed to have a safe place to live. They also needed to be able to defend themselves and their people from other kings and queens who might try to take away their land. A successful king or queen built numerous castles for themselves, and their lords were encouraged to build their own castles on land granted to them by the king or queen. The land provided food for everyone in peaceful times, and food was also safely stored in the castle for times of war and siege.

Castles were built in strategic parts of a kingdom. Each new castle made the kingdom stronger and more stable. As the towns grew and became more prosperous, there were more opportunities for the people and the need for war gradually diminished.

Start by planning where your castle should be
Pick a suitable piece of land; easy to defend, with water close by, access to good land to grow your crops and graze your livestock on and reliable, long-term access to suitable building stone, wood, food and other supplies. The castle and town are big projects and it will take a long time to finish them.

Castlemania 3D model on

This is the land that we built to meet all the needs of the castle and town. The “little” spot of land at the end of the arrow is where the castle will be built and the town will be on the land next to it. You can build your own land or use ours by clicking on the image above or the following link to our model called “Castle – Good Land Selection“. If you go to the model page just click on “Edit>Open in 3DVIA Shape”.

Go ahead and change things around to what you want or leave it the way it is. As you work, be sure to “Save” your draft frequently. Each time you “Save” you will write over your existing model. First click the “3DVIA Shape Menu” tool –

– and then the “Save” button.

Type in a title and then click the “Save” button. This saves your model to your hard drive.

If you make a mistake in your modeling or just change your mind, you can always “Open” your last saved draft and try again.

First click on the draft model that you want to open and then click “Open”.

It’s also a good idea to “Publish” your work fairly often if you are making big changes. Some modelers like to change the name slightly each time that they are done working. That way you can always go back to where you were. Use the same “3DVIA Shape Menu” button –

– the first time you Publish, select “Publish” instead of Save. Make sure that the title is what you want and click “Publish”. This will upload your model to You can also add Tags and a Description now or later.

If you want to change the name so that you have a second draft model or published model – be sure to click “Save As” or “Publish As”. This will save your work with the NEW name and NOT write over your previous model.

To make a more simple piece of land to build your castle on, use the rectangle tool to make a rectangle at least 700′ by 800′. A castle takes up a lot of space, and you want to have enough land to build on.

Be sure that your “Snap Behavior” tool is on so that as you click and drag your rectangle, it will snap to exact numbers. If the horseshoe magnet symbol is grayed out, that means it is off. Just click the tool to turn it on or off.

You can also use the drawing tool to draw each side of the rectangle.

When your line is on an axis it will be yellow. It is good to try to keep your lines on an axis if you’re trying to keep things rectangular. You can also use the automatic “inferencing” (the dotted yellow line) that shows you are in line with other parts of your rectangle.

Now let’s give your land some thickness. Select the “Push n Pull” tool and then left click on your rectangle.

The rectangle will turn light blue, and you’ll see an arrow indicating which way you will be adding thickness. As you move the mouse, you’ll also see an indicator that tells you how far you have moved. If there is a “~” in front of the dimension, it means that your Snap Behavior tool is turned off. Just press “Esc” and click on the Snap Behavior tool to make it active. Keep pulling until you’re at the thickness you want and then left click again.

Now let’s add some color or texture to your land. Click on the “Paint” tool –

and then select a texture or use the drop down menu for more choices –

Click on the model surface that you want to change the color on. Then you can change to a different color or texture and select the other surfaces. Be sure to rotate the model so that you can color all the sides and bottom too if you want. There is much more to learn about colors and textures that we’ll cover later in the series.

You now have a simple piece of land big enough to build your castle on.

Next time we’ll work on ways to add more land for your town and starting the development of a plan for the castle and town. We may even start some digging too!

Have fun trying these different methods, and be sure to upload your models so we can see your imagination being used!

Check out the new Castlemania Group!

It has all of the models that are part of the Castlemania 3DVIA Shape Tutorial Series in one easy-to-access place. You can join and add your own models to the group too!


Links to other Castlemania Stages:

Castlemania Stage Two – The Big Picture

Castlemania Stage Three – More Land and the Castle Plan

Castlemania Stage Four – The King is Coming!

Castlemania Stage Five – The King Approves the Plans

Castlemania Stage Six – The King’s Changes

Castlemania Stage Seven – Progress Review

Castlemania Stage Eight – Arrows & Towers

Castlemania Stage Nine – Merlons & Finials

Castlemania Stage Ten – Floating & Water

Castlemania Stage Eleven – Building a Cog

Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

6 Responses »

  1. Can you do one about the orange deform tool?

    • Yes! We will do our best to explain the deform tool too. I’m sure that it will come in handy when we make flags for the castle and maybe some shields too. :)

  2. Good idea, Don. I will follow with great interest this series of tutorials. This promises:)

  3. Dear Mr Swavely,
    the idea for 3DVIA Shape tutorials for free is really great.

    But as an architect and 3DS Max modeler, I would like to know if it is possible to create a realistic and very aesthetic characters with this software. Your tutorial is too simple for my exterior and interior projects, because I need to create more complex models.

    Could you publish a tutorial for creating of a character as soon as possible? Btw, I think that I have seen a few good characters, created in Shape. It would be great to explain them if it is possible.

    Kind Regards, A. Cuthbertson