Sunday 15 May 2011

Ultimate Six Coat -
pressing all the right buttons

With all the complexity of the design of the Six Coat, as well as the complication of all the different fabrics and colours, the coat’s one saving grace is its lack of fastenings up the front!

This means I don’t have to fuss around with buttonholes or buttons.

Well, I say that, but there are two buttons on the rear of the coat (see below), which will need to be matched if I am to do a half decent job.

They are large, red and have a shank. They also have a raised rim around the outside with a gently domed centre (see right).

In all my time looking at buttons for a variety of projects I have never come across anything remotely like them. This maybe a little more tricky than I thought.

Anyway, it just so happens that one of my clients is a 3D modeller for a high profile Soho CGI company. We were chatting one day about the coat and some of the work he had done recreating a perfect replica of the original William Hartnell TARDIS console.

The work he has done is absolutely amazing, and he has researched every dial and switch, many of which he has found period original of and these have been put in pride of place in their rightful positions on his console.

You can see how closely he has matched things in the photos above: on the left is the original; on the right is his replica!

In the latest photo I have seen, it is really starting to take shape and his hard work is definitely paying off.

For the switches and dials he could not track down, he has taken a novel approach. Using his skills as a 3D modeller he has created the shapes he needs in a computer and using Shapeways he has printed them in 3D – not unlike how Spoonflower prints onto fabrics.

These one-off 3D printed masters are then passed to a resin caster who makes a mould to produce top quality multiple reproductions (see right).

All this is the PERFECT method to make the buttons I need for my coat!!!!!

So I sent him some decent reference material to work from, including a direct scan I had taken of the button with a ruler along side for scale.

From this a 3D model was built and a quick render made so I could see how it looked.

I thought it looked a little thin, and the rim a bit narrow.

Once these adjustments were made, a new render showed me we were looking very good.

In his own words, here is how the model was created.
The model is built by estimating the profile curve of the button, drawing this in the 3D software, and then revolving this around a central axis to produce the basic 3D shape. The curve can then be adjusted in profile which updates the resulting revolved shape. This 3D shape can be overlaid onto various images of the original button in order to get the shape correct. The 3D button is then converted to a smoothed polygonal mesh; sized to the correct dimensions; converted to a printable format; and uploaded for 3D printing.
Having signed off on what I had seen, it wasn’t too long before it was printed in 3D and I had it in my hand (see left).

I was surprised how light and almost bone-like the printed button was, in both look and feel.

The ultimate test now would be to compare the button side-by-side with the real thing, and I will have the chance to do that very soon, when I get the chance to compare this, along with a fist full of fabric swatches.

I am quietly confirdent . . . .
You can read more about the replica TARDIS Console here:


  1. Very cool. Can't wait for the next update.

  2. Excellent news! Can't wait to see how the comparison goes- but sometime you have to thank god for good people and today's technology!


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