Castle Ice

Updated: February 3, 2007; April 30, 2011

I think this is my best work so far. Of course, you will be the judge of that. This castle is completely imaginary, unlike other works ... and is probably most suited for a fantasy book. In fact, the lack of architectural boundaries may be the reason that makes it a bit more interesting than my other, conventional works. It was also the most fun to create, since there were no clear rules to follow. Well, I may have picked up a few motifs from flashbacks in my mind that resound to the memories of various fantasy books that I have read, but you will forgive me that.


Castle Ice is an austere, menacing lump of bleak rock built on the edge of an icy precipice. It is unapproachable save for a narrow ramp spanning over a cold empty abyss.

Castle Ice bird view 1

The castle is dominated by a triangular building, backed by two towers (hi hi hi...) on top which a sacrifice altar to some icy deities has been built. And above the ramp, a huge balcony looms, from where sentries can watch every inch of the barren, wind-swept blue desert.

Castle Ice bird view 2

There's not a soul outside. And there's not a single plant to bring life to the desolation.

Castle Ice bird view 3

A lone stranger is approaching. He sees the outpost on his side of the cliffs, fronted by a parapet and spikes. From a hundred windows, archers look at him.

Castle Ice approaching

Before stepping onto the ramp, the stranger takes a deep breath. The winds are treacherous on the naked, narrow walkway to the gates.

Castle Ice before the ramp

As he walks to the gap in the ramp, the stranger pauses and waits for the sentries in the castle to connect the walkway.

Castle Ice on the ramp 1

He looks down and feels weak.

Castle Ice on the ramp 2

He walks to the gates. The corridor ahead of him bristles with murderholes.

Castle Ice before the gates

From far away, a lonely bird that has no place in this dead place, watches the pilgrim takes the unsteady steps toward the rocky monster.

Castle Ice abyss 1

Castle Ice abyss 2

While the stranger rests, in a jacuzzi with a cigar and some home-brewed malt and perchance a lady, let's take a few more look on the castle. The walkway is defended by the massive overhanging structure, a sort of a balcony with huge pillars for support. But the pillars are more than just boring slabs of rock. Complex stairwells vein up and down through, with chambers and numerous windows from which soldiers can pour death onto enemies below, on the narrow and treacherous ramp.

Castle Ice hanging pillars 1

I have tried to make the model true to human dimensions. And such, the T-shaped balcony stands proudly about 70 meters above the ramp. The beaked projection on the edifice is a huge murderhole, with many smaller ones to the left and right of it. A dramatic bridge connects the balcony to the main building of the castle. Side stairways provide access below the balcony, into the murder tunnels.

Castle Ice hanging pillars 2

Castle Ice hanging pillars 3

Castle Ice hanging pillars 4 (5)

It would take a very brave enemy to face that.

Caslte Ice hanging pillars 5 (7)

Oh man, I like my own drama.

Castle Ice hanging pillars 6 (8)

When you think of it, 70 meters is quite a lot, when viewed from the right perspective.

Castle Ice hanging pillars beak

Especially if they add a bit of kinetic flavor to burning oil and rocks pouring on you, to the beat of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, by Burt Bacharach.

Castle Ice hanging pillars murder holes

The main building (or the keep) sits cozily sheltered between the huge pillars and the two towers. It has much larger windows than the utility arrow slots that otherwise adorn the building, bespeaking nobility.

Castle Ice triangle 1

On top of the keep is a garden with a single tree - the White Tree of Gondo ... well, not exactly. But I must confess the similarity is there. Only no burning John Noble to jump off the ledge.

Castle Ice triangle 2

And the tree is more of a shrubbery really ...

Caslte Ice triangle 3

Two thirds of the way up, the keep connects to the towers via flying buttresses. It's yet another place for the aristocrats to take a rest from the arduous task of being unemployed and enjoy the monotone, ice-blasted vistas.

Castle Ice balcony 1

Castle Ice balcony 2

The towers are impressive, too. They tower about 150 meters above the cliff. They are connected at the top, where a huge sacrifice altar resides.

Castle Ice two towers 1

Castle Ice two towers 2

The large balcony belongs to the castle ruler and his lady wife - Ruslan and Ludmilla. Who else would you expect in a frozen castle, somewhere in the north?

Castle Ice Ruslan and Ludmila

Close to the sky, on cold slabs of dark rock, unbelievers are made reconsider their dogmas. For some reason, the altar reminds me of an old, DOS-based game - DOOM. I can't say why really, but it does ...

Castle Ice two towers altar 1

Castle Ice two towers altar 3

Now again, the entire scenery in a few sweeping images:

Castle Ice south view

Castle Ice east view

Castle Ice cool screenshot 1

Castle Ice cool screenshot 3

Castle Ice dwarf's view

Finally, here are some more dramatic screenshots of my castle, with all sorts of filters applied to the imagery.

This one here is called Frightening:

Castle Ice Frightening

This one goes by the name of Van Gogh:

Castle Ice Van Gogh

And this would be Night Sun:

Castle Ice Night Sun

Here's the Watching The Roads:

Castle Ice Watching The Roads

Kerkythea images

Time for proper fun ... This is madness, Sparta, uh ... realistic rendering.

Here's the same model, only re-created using Kerkythea, after exporting the model using SketchUp Importer for Google SketchUp and rendered with photons and ray tracing and magic and whatnot. You will like this. My dream of making near-realistic models is coming true, finally. Nirvana. Spledidski.

Here's a simple one, with pink early-morning mist obscuring the horizon. No extra touches, rendered as is, with the original materials. Castle Ice happens to be a very simple model when it comes to rendering, with decent realism fidelity, mainly because of the smart use of textures in the first place.

Render 1

There's a good one - the breathtaking side wide of the drawbridge chasm, highlighted by a frosty clouded sky, with the sun glare emphasizing the castle silhouette. Yes, probably cheesy, but nice nonetheless. Still, I liked this scene a lot, so here's a whole bunch of sky backgrounds.

Chasm shot

Imposing 1

Imposing 2

Imposing 3

With some lovely background images of icy landscape. Not quite realistic, but good enough. A good balance of sunlight and shadows. The castle bridge and gate looks quite imposing.

Nice ice vista

Ice vista, zoomed

More epicness [sic]:

Castle gate


Some third-party images were used for the model backgrounds. I would like to thank the creators for their beautiful and inspiring work, which made into my models.

Ice background from Wikipedia (public domain).

More goodness coming. Stay tuned!


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