NOTE: These models were created in the early 2000s. My processes, software and
skill-set have since progressed. :) ~ Ray
One day I decided I needed to create a 3D model of Disney's Orlando Haunted Mansion. I've had several ideas for sculpture projects, which would require detailed studies of the architectural design of the "manse on the hill". One of the projects, The Liberty Square Haunted Mansion Paper Model Kit, is now complete. Click here to see it.
The first thing I had hoped to do was to find blueprints of the Haunted Mansion facade. Having accurate schematics of the architectural elevations (the views from all sides) would be key to creating the model relatively quickly in 3D. But, I soon discovered that the blueprints are very rare and guarded. My only option was to build the model, using photo references as my sole source of direction. I scoured the Internet for photos that showed the mansion from as many angles as I could find.
Next was the most difficult, and vital process to creating the model, deconstructing the photos to create undistorted elevations of all of the walls and details.
Because the Orlando Haunted Mansion is on a hill, and at some distance from the guests, most photos show the Haunted Mansion at extreme angles and severe perspectives. In order to create undistorted mechanical drawing of the walls, I had to find photos that had as little distortion as possible. I found a great shot of the east facade and conservatory, which was shot from a nearly head-on view. I brought the photo into Adobe Photoshop, marked off vertical and horizontal guides (based on the corners and roof lines). Using the "Transform > Distort" tool, I was able to pull and stretch the image, until the edges lined up squarely. I could then use the image as a template, to redraw the facade as clean, solid shapes, to be imported in to Lightwave as background templates for modeling.
The squared-up, east facade could then be used as a point of reference for the creation of the rest of the mansion's outer walls, in Photoshop.
Each wall image was imported into Lightwave (as a jpeg), to be used as background images. I then traced
the background images with the pen tool. This gave me "flat" one-sided polygons, in the shapes of each wall element. I extruded each wall polygon, to create the thick wall units. Then, with a little point tweaking, and boolean subtractions (cutting out the windows), I had rough walls to then put in position.
Once the walls were created, I could arrange them based on a few very low resolution aerial shots of I found of Liberty Square. The photos showed just enough detail to get an understanding of the Haunted Mansion layout, which is almost impossible to figure out from the ground. Here is what I finally came up with.
The best test, to see if my dimen
sions were correct, was to try to accurately recreate a photo of the Haunted Mansion. If the perspectives and angles were a close match, then I knew the model was fairly accurate. In the comparison below, I was able to determine that my conservatory (right image) protruded too far out from the mansion, and the turret roof was a little weak, compared to the photo on the left, from Doombuggies.com.