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Sketch-up Rendering

Started by Mark, Aug 20, 2017, 10:00 pm

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Hello fellow TARDIS fans.

After seeing the amazing things people can do when building virtual TARDIS models I thought I'd investigate what all this "Rendering" was.

As luck would have it Expendable posted a comment on http://tardisbuilders.com/index.php?topic=7929.15 mentioning some software called Kerythea. The fact the comment mentioned "Free" might have had some bearing on me checking it out.

Looking at some of the example work on the Kerkythea website, this rendering software seems to be very capable of creating some excellent photo-realistic pictures despite it being free.

I downloaded it and then realised I needed something to render. Originally I was going to use my Sketch-up Crich Police Box but in the end decided to make some console room walls.

Wall and Door.jpg

To be honest about the software, it is essentially pretty easy to get the basics but there are plenty of settings and thingymabobs that probably do fantastic things that I haven't gotten around to figuring out as yet.

After playing for a while I decided that two walls were pretty limiting for playing with rendering so I made two more walls and played again.

console room empty.jpg

After getting to this stage I gave in and though I may as well make finish off what I had, so I made a start on the console itself.

I haven't finished the console as yet and despite the amount of work that is going to be required to populate the buttons and switches, I honestly think the hardest part of the build is finished.

Console 1.jpg

test rotor render.jpg

The console is built using a combination of measurements provided by Scarfwearer, Lespaceplie and Warmcanofcoke along with making full use of the reference section on this console. I have also used Sketch-up's "match picture" facility and a fair amount of guesswork.

I would almost kill to get a couple of hours with a tape measure and the original console, or 5 minutes with my camera and the blueprints, but for now I am pretty happy with the results of how the Sketch-up model is progressing.

console rotor close .jpg

I need to play around with the lighting aspect of rendering first, mainly because I'm don't really know that much about using it with the software. I know you can make objects light up or you can use virtual lights to light things up but I do need to learn about these things. Then I need to learn a little bit about using materials, in particular the glass for the rotor housing which I think is a little to reflective. One thing at a time I guess  ???

All suggestions and help appreciated.


there are a few tricks I can offer towards lighting and the glass (sorry for the length of this reply. I got carried away)

-  see if you can change the lights to anything but point lights. They create hard sharp edges for shadows
- think about how they light on real sets. In the early days of color there were lots of lights in the ceiling pointing down towards the sets creating a 'flat' look
- don't be afraid to colour some of the lights. Think gel lights
- most importantly. If you're using radiosity (an advanced lighting feature) make sure to limit the amount of surfaces that actually 'emit' light. There is a huge difference between being a luminous surface and a surface that emits light. The more actual emitters the slower the render and in the end you can't tell the difference.

for the glass
- look up Fresnel settings. (This is different than Fresnel lens in many ways). This is how much a surface property changes depending on the angle it's looked at. For example a sheet of glass is really transparent when you look at it straight on. But from an angle it's more reflective. From extreme angles it's almost mirror like.
- some render engines need correctly built glass. This if for Index of Refraction.  So you need one side out and one side in. Google it. It's hard to explain

other tips
- Every surface has a Fresnel effect to it. Used properly you can create some nice effects
- if you can bevel every corner so it's not a perfect 90 degree corner. the more you bevel the more light catches giving the illusion of depth
- get some good texture maps. Almost everything I do has the same two texture maps. One 'dirt' or 'grunge' and another 'scratches' applied to surfaces with capacities under 15% they add detail when there is none. Hmm... maybe I'll do a quick blog post on my site about this
- Find out how to do an Ambient Occlusion render pass. check my blog about this (http://www.interocitor-media.com/tardis/anatomy-of-one-of-my-renders/)

Even though you're using sketchup which is pretty basic for rendering there are a lot of external programs that can render sketchup models and make them look amazing. Your modelling so far is really good and looks very accurate.


Thanks Rob, you have certainly given me some things to look into and no need to apologise for post lengths - I often need things explaining more thorough than others :)

If only it was as "easy" as lighting a real set then chuck me a bunch of fresnels, some barn doors and a dimmer bank and I'd be very happy.

I shall have a wonder over and check out you blogs on the matter, thanks.

I'm using Kerkythea for the rendering part and some of the things you've mentioned sound familiar so I shall have a play with those parts.

Thank you for your kind words about my model, I've followed your "Update of my 2002 TARDIS" for a while and I'm always gobsmaked by your work so your comments mean a lot.


Wow, incredible work! I love how nicely this was done!

The forum has lots of guides and tutorials listed - visit http://www.kerkythea.net/forum/viewforum.php?f=16

Then you'll learn to play with the settings! Definitely download & install the materials too, there are some great light sources you can use to replace colors with.

One thing with using the Kerkythea point lights - they turn off the sun, so you'll be in a black background. The sun can be turned on again, but you'll still be in the dark.


Aug 23, 2017, 04:31 pm #4 Last Edit: Aug 23, 2017, 04:35 pm by Mark
Thanks Expendable I really appreciate it,

I've only downloaded a glass pack so far but I'm going to be downloading more. When I started building the model I had already decided to keep certain materials separate within the build in case I decided to play with textures and materials. Glad I did!  ;D

I have started populating the console with some of the many buttons and switches. I wanted to start with the big silver rocker switches but decided I should start simple and opted instead for the "Scrabble Tile" buttons. Measurements for theses are 19mm x 19mm x 4mm deep and on the first panel I populated with them (monitor and five sided pointing thing) everything seemed to fall into place as far as spacing with the console was concerned.

It was only when I moved onto the next panel that I realised I had miscalculated somewhere. The area with the red border should be able to fit 5 tiles across and still have a recessed border around the buttons whereas I could only get 4 and a bit of a tile.

buttons close up.jpg

At this point I stopped for the night and had a beer.  ::)

The next day I thought I ought to find some more high res pictures of the console so I could figure out where my panel measurements may have gone awry. It was when checking one said photo that I discovered something I hadn't realised about this console. Maybe it has been mentioned before, but if it has I have somehow missed it.

Each of the recessed panels is not actually square with it's sides. Easier to show you on a picture than try and describe.

Adjusted Cropped.jpgBottons extreme close up.jpg

We can be fairly sure the buttons contain right angles but they don't line up with the walls surrounding them.

I'm guessing this was done in order to make the process of molding each panel easier. I know hardly anything about fibreglassing  but I'm guessing it would make it easier to pull the finished panel out of the mold doing it this way?

I have to admit that the small part of me that contains a trace of OCD needs these recessed panels to be true squares so the buttons and switches line up neatly and uniform  >:( but then the other part of this trace OCD needs the model to be as accurate as I can make it using the reference materials available.

I wonder if you'd be arrested for breaking into the Doctor Who Experience and taking nothing but measurements?


I wouldn't be surprised. Or the bay is a little larger, so it's attached to a frame that's then attached to back of the panel front so to keep that "stepped" look.


Well after realising my error somewhere along the line with missing space for buttons along with the developments with the http://tardisbuilders.com/index.php?topic=976.45, I decided I was probably best re-starting the the whole project.

This does sound disheartening and a little bit of a waste of my own time however I had learned new things about Sketch-up whilst building the previous model so decided it was best to get things as right as possible and I figured it was easy to start afresh than try and fix what I had.

First I built a new model using dimensions provided by Lespaceplie and incorporated some of the projected measurements Tony provided based on Mike Kelt potentially using the previous Console measurements as a starting place. This created a nice looking console but with nothing to judge against, it could have looked fine and been way out so I used Sketch-up's "Match Photo" feature.

This is a great feature which allows you to use an actual photo of the item you are building and overlay it onto your model. you can then adjust the horizon and other three axis to line up your model with the photo. It can be a very time-consuming process but once you've cracked it and the pictures line up almost perfectly, you know your model is pretty close. You can then use other different photos and match them too.

Obviously if you've got your model wrong in the first place, it will never line up correctly no mater what you do.

Console MK2 overhead.jpg
Console MK2.jpg

Once you've finished matching photos you can carry on with your model and line things up with the photo, which I did with some of the spacing issues on the montior panel.

I've also found a plug-in thingy called "Round Corners" which is great. In Sketch Up you can use "Follow Me" and create curved edges but it is time consuming and can create odd results with multiple surfaces but this plug in allows you to select all the edges you wish to make curved, set a curve distance and hit "Go" and it rounds off everything you have asked for.

console mk 2 detail.jpg

I think this time I'm even closer than before but the monitor is causing me headaches. This is mainly because of the number of angles it is made up from. I'll get there sometime.

Console 2 test.jpg

As the panels are saved as components I thing I might start populating them with buttons just to double check my panel measurements before I crack on with that pesky monitor. I have found some measurements for the real buttons from Jarod's console build and Warmcanofcokes build diary, so if I make these accurately and they fit onto the model fine, it should establish whether the rest of the measurements of the console are actually close or not.


Been busy with those bottoms and switches.

Scrabble tile buttons.jpg

I appreciate that the actual prop doesn't use scrabble tiles and I did think of trying to model them more true to the originals however I have no measurements for them and not knowing what they are I couldn't really search for the dimensions. As far as the scrabble tiles go, accoding to wiki they are 19mm square by 4mm high.

Next along was my favourite switch.

silver switches.jpg

These were a joy to model and thanks to Warmcanofcoke posting a specs sheet for the correct switch, they are as accurate as I could make. The good thing about these is that I can just rotate them and they appear to have been operated. I've mixeda few up here and there.

The last ones for now are the paddle switches.

Paddle switches.jpg

I have to say I'm not that happy with these and more than likely I shall be doing them again. I found some specs but I'm not sure if they are for the actual switches used and to be fair, the specs were very odd and somewhat misleading. But for now they illustrate the effect nicely.

I won't be making the visit to Cardiff on Saturday as I discovered the Experience was sold out (after I bought rail tickets  ::)) but I did manage, after 2 hours, 5 phone calls and lots of swearing, to sort out a day off of work and change the train tickets so I can go on Thursday.



Woo! Doesn't THAT look good.

I trust a wealth of imagery will be coming from your way after your trip on Thursday ;)
Kind Regards,




why doesn't the Guide mention them? - Oh, it's not very accurate.
Oh? - I'm researching the new edition.


Sep 01, 2017, 04:47 am #10 Last Edit: Sep 01, 2017, 04:47 am by galacticprobe
You are a treasure trove of info with these switches, Nate! Since the measurements (and technical drawings of the switches like that above) are posted here as Comments, maybe you would be willing to repost those technical drawings again in this topic (http://tardisbuilders.com/index.php?topic=2563.0)?

That way when Mark posts his next Update and these comments collapse, those technical drawings of the switches will always be visible in the Reference Topic, and not lost in the collapsed comments of a build diary.

"What's wrong with being childish?! I like being childish." -3rd Doctor, "Terror of the Autons"


Thanks David, so far my favorite part really is that silver switch. I love it!

There will be lots and lots of photos, I've just ordered a polarising filter so it might allow me to get some earer details of that pesky Time Rotor inards.

Thanks Nate, these are far better than the specs I found. I shall definitely be re building these switches now! In particular your drawings give the important centre point for the circular point, I had to guess at the curve with mine.

Perhaps these technical specs or some new purpose made drawings could be included with the PDF Lespaceplie is compiling?


Sep 01, 2017, 08:00 pm #12 Last Edit: Sep 01, 2017, 08:02 pm by Mark
Thanks again to Nate for the specs on those little paddle switches. I've played around and using these measurements I came up with these.

paddle switch.jpg

I'm a lot happier with these.

As I said in a previous post, I wanted to get some buttons in so I could judge whether the control recess spaces were correct or not.  Well they are not 100% bang on but based on what I've got to work with, I'm really pleased with how close they have come in.


buttons overview.jpg

Still plenty left to do, including those slightly bevelled dark perspex bits with the yellow or red tape surrounds (which I think bring out the console and a new rotor based on Lespaceplie's new diagram which includes the square prisms.

One thing I've decided is a pain about this rendering lark is that once you've chosen your materials and lit your model, there is no way to check what it might look like until you've actually spent 2+ hours rendering. I really wish there was some sort of low res preview.

Maybe it's more down to my lack of knowledge of course!


I have completed the fourth of the switches needed for this console, the black and white keyboard buttons.

I spent ages trying to find out exactly what these came from with no end of Google Images searches but to no avail. I am convinced they are from some sort of audio/visual equipment with them having a phrase like "Line Feed" and possibly the character generator as it has lettered keys? Anyway I got nowhere until David A helped me get back intouch with Purple Blancmange.

I remembered he posted a picture in Jarod's build diary of one of the double buttons he "borrowed" from the Rani's TARDIS from the Children in Need episode. Unfortunately he wasn't able to lay his hands on the item however he was quite precise with the measurements of 18x18mm for the single keys and 18x36mm for the double keys from his recollection.

I cracked on using these measurements but building the damn things took a while due to the missing height measurement and the fact the edges curve.

The end result looks to be a good match when using the "match Image" thing on Sketch-up and the measurements seem to make sense too.

Black Button Comparison 1.jpg

This was taken before I had curved the outer top edge of the key. I did try and curve the curved edges (does that make sense to everyone else?) but the plug-in didn't really like trying to do that so I gave up on that but I did populate a panel with the appropriate number of keys and did a quick render.

Black Keys test.jpg

When I say quick, I mean it took over 4 hours!  :o

I have discovered this rendering business is less mystical than I thought - make a decent model, select a few pre-made material types for each component, hit render and hey presto you have fairly good CGI picture. Very little skill at all in fact but then when I see things like http://tardisbuilders.com/index.php?topic=7499.msg101630#msgx101630, http://tardisbuilders.com/index.php?topic=5530.120 and http://tardisbuilders.com/index.php?topic=6559.60 to name a few, I realise that although the principle of rendering is straight forward, using it to make photo realistic pictures is a true art form and this is the part where the skill comes into it

I have discovered that my model is slightly off when compared with the brief snippets of the blueprints we have been shown.


My model come out at 22' on the upper panels and 16.6' on the lower panels. You could argue that 2 degrees is not worth worrying about and you could also argue that, as we have seen before, the finished article isn't always built exactly as the blueprints specify. My thinking is that the blueprints look pretty comprehensive from the small amount we have been able to see. I would have to imagine that they would be followed pretty closely in this instance mainly because the console was built differently to it's predecessors.

Unlike the wooden consoles where a little could be shaved off to make a part fit, this console had a metal frame which had to support fibreglass panels and these panels would have been made from wooden formers. It would make sense for all these things to be made fairly accurate to start with.

I'll have a little play later at adjusting the angles, maybe on version 3 of this build....


Had a bit of spare time so found some measurements on-line and created these

Button and Lamps.jpg

I'm pretty certain that there would have been a quicker way of making the red and green panel lamps with a texture or something but I'm not that cleaver so instead I made each facet of the lens by hand. Each of the outer recesses and each of the Fresnel type things are 0.2mm across and the same deep. I wouldn't expect these to be real world measurements but its as close as I could guess and make.

I'll pop them on the console model and see how they match up to the rest of the buttons and such. If they look right I'll post the specification diagram from RS Electrical on the research section of the Kelt console thread.