Castlemania Stage Twelve – Gatehouse Work
The master engineer pitched a fit about my plan in Castlemania Stage Eleven to make wagons this time around, since work on the most important part of the castle’s defenses is lagging behind schedule. So plans have changed folks; the gatehouses get top priority now!
The three gatehouses are important and vulnerable parts of the castle. The gatehouses are used most frequently to control people and goods going into and out of the castle, but their most important purpose is to keep attackers out! They are complicated structures with extensive defensive features, rooms for living in and storage for supplies.
First, I’ll work on the main gatehouse (red ellipse). The outer gatehouse (gold ellipse) is the first line of defense. The postern gatehouse (yellow ellipse) is for the king and his party to both enter and leave the castle by ship without having to go through the town; it is also placed for a speedy exit in case things aren’t going too well during an attack.
Even though the king required that the master engineer widen the opening between the gatehouses back in Castlemania Stage Six, it’s still too tight to keep a good flow of traffic moving in and out at the same time. The red lines show how limited the space is once we add the portcullis (the big gate with spikes at the bottom) and the defensive door structures.
Even though much of the foundation work was already done, I opened up the passageway a full 8′ (red arrows) using the “Box Select” tool, as I demonstrated in Castlemania Stage Six.
Then I used the “Draw” tool and the “Push n Pull” tool to add the first side of the structure (white rectangle), which will allow the portcullis to slide up and down. The portcullis is the first barrier for the attackers to try to get through. This sturdy wall and the opening (green ellipse) will be quite large, so we’ll use a stronger arched opening rather than the rectangular opening used in most places.
To start the arch, I first draw the outside rectangle. Next, I draw a line from the top center of the rectangle (red ellipse) to the left side (red arrow) and then a second line to the right side (long green arrow). It doesn’t matter whether I do the left or right side first, but I am careful to use the automatic inferencing (shorter green arrow) to keep the end points lined up (green ellipse).
Next, I use the “Erase” tool to delete the extra lines at each corner (red ellipses).
Then I use the “Arc” tool to click and start a line (red arrow) from the center (red ellipse) down to the rectangle side (green ellipse) where I move the mouse along the line until it turns blue (green arrow) and then click again.
With the “Arc” tool still active, I move the mouse slowly up the vertical line until the arc turns blue – as shown in the inset image (left red arrow). In the actual castle model, I had to carefully move up along the side (right red arrow) until it snapped into place (green ellipse) without the line turning blue.
The angle of the two lines I drew several steps back (yellow arrows) will determine the final shape of my arch, so I went through this process several times until I was happy with the results. The steeper you make the lines, the pointier your arch will be.
Next I use the “Push n Pull” tool (red ellipse) to create the opening and delete the remaining surface. Now wagons, people and even a whole group of mounted lancers will easily fit through the passageway.
The video How To Create Arches is another good way to see this process being demonstrated.
I started adding the required defensive features, and the model got very complicated very quickly. You can see the still unfinished gatehouse (highlighted above) is a substantial hunk of building.
Each gatehouse is filled with interior details. It can be impossible to build the important inside areas when all you can see is the outside. I need a way to see inside, and since Superman wasn’t around yet in 1275, I’ll use section views instead.
The situation is similar to when you’re looking at a cake that is frosted all over. You don’t know how many layers the cake has or whether it is chocolate or vanilla. As soon as you cut out the first wedge of cake, you’ve created a section view of the cake.
With section views, I divide the complex assembly into several smaller models and work on them separately. Then I put them back together again and use it as a complete model. If I’m careful to keep the complete model smaller than the 2 MB limit, I can insert it into the larger castle model.
When I’m moving the models around, I move them on an axis and to a specific distance (25′ or 50′ rather than 29′ 6″ or 53′ 9″). This makes it much easier to move them back into place.
Creating a section view is easy, but I make sure to keep a copy of the original in case I delete something important (left image). Usually I make my section views in a model along a plane of symmetry; the model is the same on each side, they’re just reversed.
When I select the “Draw” tool, blue midpoints will appear on each line segment (yellow ellipse). If your surfaces have a very detailed pattern on them, it may be hard to see the midpoints. You can zoom in to find them or you may need to temporarily change your pattern to a solid light color.
I choose a midpoint (red ellipse, left image) and draw a vertical line. I then draw the other lines (green arrows, left image) along each axis to complete the plane (red ellipse, right image). I am very careful to change my viewpoint several times to make sure that my lines stay on the plane I want and that I include the entire model. The resulting plane is my cutting plane.
Next I change to a top view, using my cutting plane as a visual helper (green ellipse, left image). Then I box select (red arrow, left image) the entire right side of the model and use the “Erase” tool to delete it.
Notice I have my “just-in-case” copy in the background. I can also use “CTRL C”, “CTRL V”, hit the space bar and mirror the remaining half, but on more complex models I prefer to keep an original copy close by.
After deleting the cutting plane, it’s a good idea to change the color or pattern of the surfaces of the model that are cut, even the tiny ones. It makes it more obvious that this is a section view.
Section views don’t have to be a simple one plane cut. Cuts can be made at angles and with multiple planes all at one time to show what you want to show; just remember to keep a copy so that you can put it back together.
I’ve made a lot of progress in creating the defensive features, and the main gatehouse is now a massive structure. I’ll show you some of the ways the defenders can ward off the attackers.
If the attackers were able to breach the outer gatehouse or the outer wall, they would still be in a heap of trouble. Even though I haven’t finished the details yet, the attackers will face much more danger before they even get inside the first barrier- the portcullis.
The attackers will be under constant fire and bombardment from the battlements at the top of the gatehouse (red ellipses) and under fire from the lower arrow slits (green ellipses). I haven’t added these into the model yet, but they are important.
Unlike the balcony in Romeo and Juliet (which is still three hundred years in the future), the gatehouse balcony has arrow slits and embrasures to help with the defense. It also has what was then called a “murder hole” (top yellow arrows) which is a big hole for the defenders to drop things on the attackers from directly overhead. Yikes!
Here is a section view that allows me to show you the gatehouse passageway on a normal day with everything wide open (left image) or during a battle when the defenses are shut down tight (right image).
On a normal day the portcullis (yellow ellipse) is open, as are the two interior doors (green ellipses).
During a battle, the portcullis (faced with iron and with iron tips) would be down and both inner doors (reinforced with iron straps) would be shut with heavy timber drawbars (not shown yet) to help keep them closed. The portcullis and doors create two rooms that trap the attackers inside.
Any attackers unlucky enough to make it through the portcullis would face more arrow slits (green arrows), more archers (green ellipses) and more defenders dumping stuff on their heads (yellow arrows) through another “murder hole”. Notice the sides of the hole are angled to deflect whatever is dumped into the hole out over the attackers, just like the batters along the outside walls and towers.
If they make it through all of that, the attackers are still faced with a second room with the same defensive features.
Then, if the attackers fight their way through all of that, they are faced with the arrow slits of the firing wall (red ellipse) and the massed defenders on the ground and from above.
Now the master engineer is happier, since the main gatehouse is much closer to being functional. It is little wonder the concentric castle was considered one of the strongest castle designs ever conceived.
The many towers of the castle are due for some attention soon. They too are important as defensive features during an attack and as the early warning system to see any unwanted company that may be approaching.
You may have noticed from the first image that there will now be a new Castlemania once a month. The castle is getting more and more complicated, so extra time is needed to model and present the latest improvements.
Links to previous Castlemania Stages: