Advanced Potion-Making

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Together with the Marauder's Map, this is one of my most favourite props from the Harry Potter universe. However, since I always strive to create the most accurate replicas, replicating this book meant not only that I'd have to write a whole book, but also fill it with Prince's notes... which is obviously not an easy task, and that is the main reason I didn't even try to create this replica until now. I did not write every line of text myself, of course, because I simply do not have enough knowledge about alchemy, antidotes or about the fictional potion-making from the Harry Potter universe, so there is a lot of copy-pasting. However, I dare say I managed to put together a book that could pass as an actual school book that can be read from cover to cover.

There are not many reference pictures online, but I managed to find the table of contents of the original prop and basically fill the book using the table of contents as an outline. The result is a book that can be read from cover to cover, and at the same time, it contains all the page designs that you can see in the movie, making it an accurate replica. But writing the book is just half of the process - the other half was to go through each page and put Prince's notes on top of it. All of these notes are handwritten using a graphics tablet - this allows me to have control over everything (color of the ink, thickness etc.), while being able to print the book with the same quality every single time. Since all the notes are handwritten and they actually make sense in the context of the book, this was a VERY time-consuming process. There are over 300 pages and each of them contains Prince's notes... I stopped having fun somewhere around page 20, but it was worth it.

Based on both the movie and the book

The replica is both movie and book accurate - I used the movie as a design reference and replicated all the pages that were shown to us. Like the intro page and the table of contents, for example:

 

But I also wanted the replica to be book accurate as well. I went over the Half-Blood Prince book and took notes on what to include in my replica and where to put it. 

"Well, by turning to page ten of Advanced Potion-Making. We have a little over an hour left to us, which should be time for you to make a decent attempt at the Draught of Living Death." (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

What does it mean? Well, it means that if you turn to page 10 in my replica, you will indeed find the instructions on how to brew the Draught of Living Death. The design of this page is shown in the movie, so I used both movie and book as a reference for this one:

 

"Harry pulled out his trusty copy of Advanced Potion-Making and turned to the chapter on antidotes. There was Golpalott’s Third Law, stated word for word as Hermione had recited it, but not a single illuminating note in the Prince’s hand to explain what it meant. Apparently the Prince, like Hermione, had had no difficulty understanding it. “Nothing,” said Harry gloomily." (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

This part was never shown in the movie, but I included it in my replica using the text above as a reference:

 

"More to avoid watching this irritating sight than anything else, Harry bent over the Half-Blood Prince’s book and turned a few pages with unnecessary force. And there it was, scrawled right across a long list of antidotes: Just shove a bezoar down their throats." (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

And indeed, if you turn a few pages, you will also stumble upon a long list of antidotes and the 'Just shove a bezoar down their throats' note. I intentionally didn't put it across the list of antidotes, because it would make it unreadable, but I think it still works:

 

"He bent a little lower over Advanced Potion-Making and continued to make notes on Everlasting Elixirs, occasionally pausing to decipher the Prince’s useful additions to Libatius Borage’s text." (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

Everlasting Elixirs you say? Here you go:

I tried to include everything from the Half-Blood Prince book. These are just some random examples, let's take a look at the potions in this book:

Potions

You already know about the Draught of Living Death, but there are much more potions included in this book. For example, I found some images of the Polyjuice Potion pages from Harry Potter expo and replicated them:

 

"Hermione’s well-practiced hand hit the air before anybody else’s; Slughorn pointed at her. “It’s Veritaserum, a colorless, odorless potion that forces the drinker to tell the truth,” said Hermione. “Very good, very good!” said Slughorn happily." (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

Veritaserum can be found in the table of contents of the original prop, and Slughorn also said "These are the kind of thing you ought to be able to make after completing your N.E.W.T.s.", so it makes sense to include it in the replica:

 

"Harry pulled his copy of Advanced Potion-Making out of his bag and looked up Felix Felicis. “Blimey, it’s seriously complicated,” he said, running an eye down the list of ingredients. “And it takes six months . . . You’ve got to let it stew. . . .” “Typical,” said Ron. (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

Since Felix Felicis is supposed to be "seriously complicated", I decided to spread the instructions over 4 pages. Also, I assume Snape (the Half-Blood Prince) was quite poor, so he probably couldn't afford to experiment much with this potion - that is why I decided that most of his notes would focus on the "why" of things, not "how to make it better" - he probably didn't have many (if any) chances to brew the potion, so he probably didn't come up with many alterations to the original instructions.

 

"... clapping his hands together as he stared down into the sunshine yellow contents of Harry’s cauldron. “Euphoria, I take it? And what’s that I smell? Mmmm . . . you’ve added just a sprig of peppermint, haven’t you? Unorthodox, but what a stroke of inspiration, Harry, of course, that would tend to counterbalance the occasional side effects of excessive singing and nose-tweaking. . . . I really don’t know where you get these brain waves, my boy . . . unless —” Harry pushed the Half-Blood Prince’s book deeper into his bag with his foot.." (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

The Elixir to Induce Euphoria (together with the 'sprig of peppermint' tip from the Prince) can also be found in my replica:

 

The table of contents of the original prop also includes the Wolfsbane Potion... however, I was seriously considering NOT to include it in my replica... why? I'm proud to say that I did my research and the Wolfsbane Potion is supposed to be relatively new - this is what I found:

"After graduating from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Damocles Belby went on to become a Potioneer and invented the Wolfsbane Potion sometime after the mid-1970s." (harrypotter.fandom.com)

How can this potion be included in a textbook that was published long before the Wolfsbane Potion was even invented? According to the Half-Blood Prince, the Advanced Potion-Making book is much older than that:

"There he turned its pages, searching, until he finally found, at the front of the book, the date that it had been published. It was nearly fifty years old. Neither his father, nor his father’s friends, had been at Hogwarts fifty years ago." (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

Since the sixth book takes place around the year 1996, simple math tells you that the book was published long before the 1970s, when the Wolfsbane Potion was invented. I ended up including it in my replica, because most people will probably miss this little fact, but they might notice that it is in the original table of contents, but not in mine, so there you go:

 

These are just a few examples, there are much much more potions in the replica.

Spells

The book is filled with Prince's notes on a number of spells and charms. My replica includes all the spells referenced in the Half-Blood Prince (Sectumspempra, Langlock, Muffliato, Levicorpus, Liberacorpus, ...) and more:

 

Final Thought

It was a great deal of work, but I think the result was definitely worth it. There is still room for improvement, though, because there is one thing that the replica is missing - the title and other parts on the cover of the book should be silver foiled. I'm able to do this with paper, but the cover is made from a textile canvas, which proved difficult for this type of silver foiling. Since I didn't find a better way to do it, I'm leaving it open for now. Aaaand that's it, another passion project finished.

 

 

Demo Video

If you're interested in a look at all the pages from the book, feel free to watch the demo video on my youtube channel, here it is: