Castlemania Stage Nine – Merlons & Finials
The weather has been good, stone deliveries are regular and labor is plentiful, so a lot of progress has been made. It’s starting to look more like a castle!
In the last stage, I showed you one way to build the tower bases and the arrow slits above them. This week, we’ll finish off the towers using new techniques and then add them to the entire outer wall of the castle.
The outside walls (outside curtains) are designed to be 20′ tall, with the battlements (crenelations) adding another 6-8′ to that. The towers are designed to be 30′ tall with battlements on top of that. I’ll show you how to make our 20′ towers (oops) from the last stage, into 30′ towers with a useful sectioning technique.
Battlements are the craggy bits where the castle’s defenders fight. They are built along the top of all the walls and towers to provide fighting positions for the archers and other defenders. The tall parts of the battlements are called merlons (red ellipse) and contain protected arrow slits (loops) for the archers. They are usually capped with a double-slanted surface and have tall stones called finials (yellow ellipse) for even more protection.
The lower parts of the wall are called embrasures (gold ellipse) and are used when a greater range of fire is needed or something needs to be dumped over the edge onto the attackers. The embrasures on the towers give the best view of what is happening in battles and are also a great place to enjoy the beautiful sunsets.
This time I’m only going to build half of the model and use symmetry at the end to copy everything. It’s usually the fastest way to make a complicated symmetrical model. I’m also going to be relying on you to remember many of the steps from previous stages (all of the links are at the end of the article), so I’ll move more quickly through the process.
I start with the full layout of the tower, so I can make sure I’ll be able to split it where I want and to get my sizes figured out. The whole tower top will have seven merlons with arrow slits. Two positions will be perpendicular to the center line, so I’ll need five merlons on the rounded part of the tower. I’ll use the “Polygon” tool to draw a ten-sided polygon (red arrow) in line with the center line (red dashed line).
Then I mess about a bit until I find reasonable sizes for the merlon and embrasure sections. Using the center point and the corners of the polygon, I can quickly set up half of the battlements and then delete the other half. To keep from getting too confused, I change the color of the embrasure sections to a darker gray. I also add the center line axis, since I will need it throughout the process (red ellipse).
I then add the merlon profile (red ellipse, left image) and use the “Push n Pull” tool to extrude the first flat section of the wall (red ellipse and arrow, left image). Then, using the center axis (green ellipse, left image), I use the “Advanced Push n Pull’ tool to extrude the wall around the curve. I stop at each of the edges of the gray sections and then rotate the next section. This will give me the ability to then delete the lower embrasure sections.
Once I deleted the sections I didn’t need, I use the “Grid Options” tool to align the grid with each section (red ellipse, right image) and add straight lines across the inside of each gray section and another at about 1′ in from the curved edge (red dashed lines, right image).
In each section, I now use the “Push n Pull” tool to raise the outside wall 4′ and the inside section 1′ for each embrasure section.
Adding an arrow slit and some archer maneuvering space into the curved inside wall requires some ingenuity. The top of the white center lines (red ellipses, left image) shows where I want the bottom edge of the space located. By aligning the grid with the center line and creating an orange rectangle centered on that line, I then extrude the orange rectangle into the curved wall.
A very useful tool is to change the transparency of the solid object you are working with. Here I changed several surfaces to a transparent blue color (green arrow, left image), so I can see how far into the wall I can extrude my orange rectangle (yellow ellipse, left image) while still keeping the wall strong. I make a note of that distance, so that the other positions will be faster to make.
The right image shows the archer maneuvering space after all the unneeded lines and surfaces are removed. The red arrows point to the curved lines on the inside of the wall, and the green arrows point to the straight lines created by the “Push n Pull” action.
Now that the inside of the archer maneuvering space is a flat surface, I can draw the actual slit more easily and then “Push n Pull” the opening.
The orange rectangle is rotated around the center axis to create each of the three archer maneuvering spaces. Notice I applied the transparent blue color to another surface before changing the color of the surfaces I was just working on; that way it will remain in my set of color choices as I continue to work on the model.
The archer maneuvering space that is perpendicular to the center line has its own challenge; one of the surfaces is curved and one is flat. I align the grid and draw line #1 . The I add line #2 to the center of line #1. Lines #3 and #4 allow me to create the orange rectangle and follow the same steps as with the other arrow slit positions.
The right image shows the completed positions. Now I can move on to the finials.
Way back, when I created the profile for the merlons, I left a flat spot 1′ wide on the top because I knew it would be easier to position the finials on a flat surface.
To create the finials I make a 1′ square, connect the centers of each side and erase the corners. Then I “Push n Pull” it up to a height of about 2 1/2′.
Now I select the top surface with the “Deform” tool and select the green “Modify” mode (red ellipse, left image). By moving the scale handle (larger red ellipse, middle image), I make the top smaller and the rest of the geometry moves with the scaling. The amount of reduction is shown in the small white box (smaller red ellipse, middle image).
Then I use “CTRL +C” and “CTRL +V”, hit the space bar, select an anchor point and locate the finial on the center line all along the top of the merlons. For the curved sections, I rotated each finial a little before copying and pasting it in place..
The finials are spaced along the top by eye; even spacing is not necessary.
To create the pointed cap on the wall, I drew the triangle by extending the profile edges (red arrows, right image) and then “Push n Pulled” and “Advanced Push n Pulled” it along and around the merlon tops.
I deleted the areas above the embrasures and all unneeded lines and am done with the geometry. Next, I choose the stone texture I want and apply it to the entire piece all at one time by making a box selection of the whole thing.
Making the second half of the battlements will be easy. I just select the whole thing, use “CTRL +C”, “CTRL +V”, hit the space bar, select the proper “Click to flip” button (red ellipse, left image) and snap it into position (red ellipse, right image).
The completed battlements can now be copied and pasted onto the top of the rest of the tower using one corner (red arrows, left image) as the anchor point.
I made the mistake in Stage Eight of making the first two levels only 20′ tall (red ellipse, left image) when they should be 30′ tall! To fix this, I use this sectioning technique to add (or to remove) material from the model.
First I apply simple colors to the surfaces I’ll be working with. Then I move my view as close to a straight on view of one of the model’s sides as I can. Then I select a part of the model that does not have features that shouldn’t be moved. Then I draw a line out from part of the model (red ellipse, right image). I use that line as the starting point for a rectangle (red arrow, right image), then “Push n Pull” the rectangle through the model. You can also use more complicated shapes to do the same thing.
By starting with a line connected to the model , the white box that I’ve created is part of the whole model as shown by the black intersection lines (red arrow, left image) all around the shape.
I then delete the white box and all model geometry in the section that I removed. The opening should be totally clear of geometry (red rectangle, right image). Now I can select the top section as one part of the model (red ellipse, right image) and the bottom as another.
Now I move the top section up exactly 10′ (red ellipse, left image), after making sure that my “snap behavior” is on.
To finish the job, I “Push n Pull” the bottom surface of the moved section down until it snaps to the bottom section, and I’m done. Now the tower is the proper 30′ tall (red ellipse, right image).
I made the tower as a separate model, because I need eight towers for the castle’s outside wall and didn’t want to do all this work eight times. Plus, I can make changes, if needed, and replace all the towers.
Now I need to accurately position the towers in my castle model. After finding my tower model by using the search bar, I insert the first tower into my model. Then I select it with the “Deform” tool which brings up all of the major axis and rotation tools too.
It also brings up the option of using a “Reference point”. I click on the triad symbol inside the white box, and the reference point appears (white dot with glow around it). I click and drag that point to the surface (green arrow, left image) I want to match up with an existing surface on the model.
I change my view so I can see the surface I want to match too. Then I move the model in the direction of the red arrow (right image) by pulling on the correct yellow arrow of the tool (left green ellipse, right image). I move the mouse over to the surface that I want, and the model will snap to that surface. The term “| Snap to face” will appear, and I release the mouse (right green ellipse, right image).
Next I move the tower, using the same steps, in the direction of the red arrow (left image). Notice I’ve moved the reference point to the next surface I want to match (green arrow, left image). By pulling on the yellow arrow (red ellipse, right image) I move the mouse over the edge I want, and it will snap there and show the message “26′ | Snap to edge”.
Now the tower is where I want it to be, BUT it is still separate from the main model in case I need to replace it again. Be careful not to accidentally select and move it out of position. If you want to make it permanently part of the overall model, just draw a line from the tower to a point on the main model. Now you can move it using other methods, but you’ll have to delete it to replace it. Delete the connecting line when you’re done.
To add more towers, I copy and paste this one and then move and rotate them into position as needed.
Phew! That was a lot of learning in one spell, but we also accomplished a lot.
In the next stage, we’ll be working on the town. Remember the town? Without it, the castle would never get built!
Check out the 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 previous Castlemania Stages: