The Doctor Who redesign project

- by Niklas Jansson

Foreword

I finally got to watch Doctor Who and fell in love with some of the designs. The Daleks I had already heard about of course, but many of the designs from the older periods were also charming. A lot of older games have Dalek-ish designs in them, and Doctor Who also inspired other sci-fi species like the awesome Borg (Dalek+Cybermen).

I have some 18 sheets of design thumbnails so far, but it takes time to tidy up and categorize. Only a few designs per page survive. Here's a A4 thumbnail sheet scanned at 150 pixels per inch. A few thumbnails (slightly edited) from this sheet can be seen at 1:1 scansize (about 200% the drawn size on a monitor) in the Galaxy 4 section.

Content anchors


Updates

Updates 2010

Updates 2007

Updates 2005


Setting

I don't fancy character oriented stories much, instead I prefer... universe descriptive stories, like Star Wars where I see the characters as vessels who are used to explore and describe the setting. Time travel is often whimsical and inconsistent, and it can mess with story continuity. Therefore I'd like to pick one location and time for my setting. A smaller galaxy seems appropriate, maybe some kind of star cluster, dwarf galaxy, or globular/satellite galaxy.

The Dominators are dominating, pushing other species out of the way. According to their own statement, they are masters of one or ten galaxies. I'm not sure to what extent they enslave other species, but there might be other enslaved species inside their domains. The Movellans and Daleks can offer good resistence, whilst the Cybermen, humans and other species are pushed together, creating conflict, and strange alliances.

The Sontarans and Rutans have been doing their own thing at the edge of the cluster, but lately other species have been drawn into their conflicts as well.

The Krotons holding the core, perhaps building some sort of singularity using the densely packed matter there.

So, no Doctor, no time travel, more large spacefleets, tactics and diplomacy. Yeah, pretty much a game setting, such as the one in Master of Orion and other 4X games. I tend to focus on setting first, and drama last, but hopefully I can address that problem since I'm aware of it.


Characters

My protagonist might be different from story to story (Kroton, Human, Movellian...). This will allow me to show different locations or the same location but from a different perspective.

Like in Star Trek, ships could also be more fleshed out and character-like. With the new Doctor Who series, they put some emphasis on the TARDIS being a living complex thing, but I think that the TARDIS is a bit too mysterious. It has a mysterious light thing, and you never see the other rooms it has, or its true exterior. In Star Trek you can relate to certain parts of the ship as biological functions, the shields and hull being the skin, the warp core is the heart, the computer is the brain, the engines are the legs, the weapons and tractor beams are the fists, the crew is the blood cells, and the shuttles are, uh, babies...

Instead of a Doctor, I could use a female Nurse... nurse something. She travels in her "Place-Box" (a nod to the police box) but it can only travel to places, not in time. Actually, I think teleporting somewhere would actually move you in time too, because of the light cone deal, but I'll handwave that away.

I also thought some about how the spaceship/place-box might look, and I decided that since it's not really a regular spaceship and the exterior isn't important, it should be a box.

My Dalek redesign was iterated again (2010). I had some unnecessary greeble at the bottom which I removed. They hover around but may lock down with legs when they use full fire power.

I'm trying to interpolate a new female Cyberman (a stealth unit perhaps) based on the Cybermen and their sleek android design. It's very roughs still, but it might develop into something interesting later.

The Wheel in Space could be an interesting episode to use as a starting point for a plot, so I played around with a similar uniform design.

Doctor Who Cybermen, Dalek, Ice Warrior, Trod rough concepts

Plot design

Another thing which I'd like to do is to avoid silly weaknesses as a plot device. Example: a seemingly invincible robot puts the protagonists in a tight spot. The protagonists figure out that the robot is made from potassium nitrate. Aha, that's one of the ingredients in black powder! However, with coal and sulphur unavailable to them, the protagonists instead throw household sugar onto the robot, which promptly explodes.

Elaborate 'scientific' explainations will have to go aswell, as they never hold up to scrutiny. I'd rather have my characters fire 'Capacity 9 C-beams' or something abstract. That said, I'm still doing some armour penetration, volume and kinetic impact math to assure my designs are in the realms of the reasonable.

Since I'm a concept artist, I tend to focus on the design of the characters and setting. However, a story isn't interesting if it's just presentation of information. I was thinking of using a TV series format, with scene, episode and season plots which all slightly overlap and create a continuity. There needs to be some kind of drama which keeps the reader constantly interested in what will happen next.

I'm guessing that once the solution to a conflict is clear to both the protagonist and reader, it's not very interesting to show it being perfectly executed. It's probably better to cut the scene, or create complications. There's a lot left for me to learn about drama still.

Visual design

I'm quite fond of retro sci-fi design, because it can not hide behind superficial detailing (aka greebles). The silhouette (major shapes) will have to be strong on its own. It's also quite interesting to work with very odd shapes, shapes not being close to the contemporary cool. It makes the design memorable, gives it character.

Naturally I can not redesign every Doctor Who creature out there, so I'll have to be selective. My preferences are:

The following creatures are interesting but does not work in my setting:


Cybermen

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something... silver-ish.

Cybermen space fleet designs

Design comments

The Cybermen ships to the right here are partly inspired by the ships seen in Wheel of time, The Invasion, and Revenge of the Cybermen.

The Invader (longest ship) has a central honeycomb structure containing invasion ships. The main cannon is some kind of large accelerator, and there are also a bunch of 'smaller' turrets.

The transport is modular and can stretch on, repeating the cargo segments.


Daleks

New design

The Daleks in the TV series are a bit inconsistant in terms of vulnerbility. I'd like to think a Dalek is about as powerful as a modern main battle tank in terms of armor and firepower. To take them out you need something more than a regular RPG ('bazooka'). I wanted my redesign to look like something which could be threatening to a space adventurer, so I decided to change both the design and 'stats' a bit.

The 'skirt' on the Daleks is rather big and clumsy, and it makes the them look like they have difficulties getting around. Of course, it was designed that way so they could roll around with a guy sitting inside. I wanted my Daleks to look more mobile, so I redesigned the skirt into a radially symmetrical hover thing. Without knowing it, my redesign ended up somewhat close to the Japanese Dalek ('Dareku'), with the cone shape and rounded bottom. Anyways, if I do a comic I don't need to consider issues like how to fit a guy inside a suit or how to make things hover.

I drew some inspiration from the notion of spider Daleks and gave mine a few tube-hose-legs (kind of retro). These legs are used when the Dalek is resting (although some might use alcoves instead). They're also used to secure the Dalek when it fires a... big powerful beam. Indoors, Daleks also have the option to fire a weaker beam which does less damage to the surrounding environment.

Daleks also needs to be able to build stuff and manipulate objects, so I like to imagine that the plunger is some sort of grappling hook which can create tiny microscopic 'hands' using a forcefield technology of some sort. This allows the Dalek to grab things, build things, mine, interface with consoles, crush foes in close combat, etc.

Dalek redesign

Since it's fun to come up with different Dalek variants, I made three sub factions. I don't quite know what they are about yet, or if my Daleks even have pilots... I like the Daleks more as robots I think.

Dalek Duralium*

Dalek anatomy

* Official information states: "The outer casing is made of Dalekenium, a metal alloy developed by the Dals, which is ten times stronger than steel, yet it is only a quarter of the weight of aluminum." I just made wild guesses about the durability and weight, but ended up pretty close. My Duralium variant is about 12 times stronger, and a bit heavier than Aluminium. I didn't want the Dalek to be too flimsy so I used a weight slightly over that of Aluminium.

I have made a few different types of ships, a fighter/scout, a troop transport, a destroyer, a carrier and a mothership. The overall design is a mushroom with a flat shape through the center in just one axis. All larger ships have a troop transport in the top, and several fighters docked at 90 degrees.

The ship armour is a mixture of more common materials and layers of Duralium, especially around vital ship systems.

Dalek Slyther

The Slythers might be the Daleks' guard dogs of sorts. They're a little slow though, so they rely on camouflage and making spooky sounds.



Movellan

These Cyborgs nearly match the Daleks in military force and wits.

Movellan and Sontaran concepts


Sontaran

I've drawn a couple of different version of the Sontarans. The striped black suit that they wear reminded me of my Cylon concept from 2005 (an exo-muscle system). I think it fits the Sontarans pretty well.


Rutan

Design comments

After almost a page littered with little ships, I stumbled on a simple sea shell design that I think might work.

Exo armour with a transparant canopy revealing the green slime ball creature.


Krotons

Story Synopsis

Krotons vs Daleks storyboard draft

This little script is merely meant to describe the nature of the Krotons. It might need a B plot and human characters. I quite like the Krotons, so I made them more powerful than the Daleks. The 'storyboard' here is just some roughs.

A group of Dalek surviviors are left crippled after a battle with the Movellans.

They Crash on a planet, but quickly begin to rebuild, making use of the primitive locals.

One Dalek locates an old crashed Kroton Ship in a crater. There are strange canisters of liquid onboard.

The Dalek interface with the DynaSphere onboard the derelict Kroton vessel. The Dynasphere 'fries' the Dalek. A survivial/scout form Kroton forms out of the Liquid Super Crystal seen earlier.

The Kroton finds that its ship is non-funtional, and goes out on an adventure to find a solution.

Three Daleks sent to investigate the Kroton ship further intercepts the Kroton. The leader fires upon the Kroton after the usual introductional phrases.

The Dalek leader, clearly being very powerful, is surprised and agitated to find that it failed to disable the Alien. Several shots are fired by the Daleks, but the Kroton appears to be getting away.

The leader goes into lock-down mode, diverts extra power to its weapon, and fires a devastating blast. The Kroton is reduced to liquid.

The Daleks forcefield grapples the liquid (with the 'suction cup'), forming it like an amoeba like sphere in the air.

Believing the alien is dead, they take the 'corpse' back to the Dalek base for investigation.

They drop it in a tank with Dalek interface knobs on it. They fail to figure out what it is and leave to investigate other matters, like the Kroton ship..

The Kroton reforms. It finds itself close to the Dalek nursery. It absorbs all Daleks, reducing them to dust. Now it has enough highbrain power (the life force of the Krotons) to go into battle mode, but still needs Liquid Super Crystal.

It locates a mineral store room and does some miracle archemy, then changes into a potent battle form.

A Dalek suddenly enters, fires. Smoke and debris. The Kroton emerges unharmed and the Dalek shows a hint of fear. The Kroton Towers above it.

Meanwhile the Daleks investigating the Kroton ship have been alerted. Heading back to base in a hurry, they find it smoking half in ruins, something hanging in the sky above.

The Kroton, hovering in mid air, turns with a sinister look to spot them. It fires an intense beam at the Daleks and studies the effects. There's a large crater in the ground.

The Kroton now has the power to repair some vital part of the ship.

The Kroton ship emerges from the ground, shredding it. It is massive.

The Kroton ship leaves the planet. The Kroton is contemplating the canisters of liquid lining the walls around the Dynasphere core. Entering another part of the ship, thousands of more canisters are revealed.



Dominators

The Dominators is a 2nd doctor episode, and one of my favorites. It has some rather strange costume design, but I like episodes which take place on alien planets. The relationship between the Dominators is fun to watch, and then there's the destructive Quarks of course.

Dominators

The Dominators are grumpy strict bullies. The hair spike is paraphrased in their Quark (robot) design. Might give their ship a spike too, and their logo.

I wanted to play with their bulky costume design and scale armor, so I did. Perhaps they have pale faces, I'm not sure if I'd like them to be fully human.


Quarks

The Quarks can form a box, perhaps it's a storage thing. I'm not sure if I should give them two segmented arms, or two shielded ones. I deviated a bit from the original design, which I didn't quite like. The colors here... well, they do have a cute voice and small stature, but I think I need to go silver, because the episode was shot in B/W and they are killer machines after all.


Older Dominator and Quark thumbnails


Ice Warriors

Ice warriors ship fleet

Snow flakes and shurikens were inspiration for these ship designs. Most sci-fi ships are shown upright, even though directions have less meaning in space. Flying saucer shaped ships are often seen spinning, but wanted to do something different here and flipped them up like wheels. The large protruding sections could do the usual humming swooshing sound as they slowly spin pass the camera. It would perhaps feel like they're menacingly shredding space as they advance.


Alpha

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Galaxy 4 stuff

Drahvin clones

The Drahvin use cloned simple minded soldiers... soldierettes? The commanders are more cunning and often deceptive.

The Drahvin are quite hostile, and might be at war with the Rills. The Chumblies used by the Rills give the Drahvin trouble, even though the Rills are not as militaristic.

I've only seen a Rill head, and since the Galaxy 4 episode is lost, perhaps eyewitness accounts is all there is to go on in regards to their body appearance. The Chumblies were perhaps an attempt to come up with a new cool robot design, and while they have some charm, they're no Daleks. The Drahvin could be interesting too, but their uniform and rifle design felt a bit sloppy. WW1 trench-coats could be a fun approach.

Drahvin clones



The Chase stuff

The Mechanoids are big round polygonal robots. I thought it would be fun to elaborate on the polygonal theme and develop a few variants. If I recall correctly, the Mechanoids are remnants of a failed human colonization project (on the jungle planet Mechanus). It's more of a Fungoid planet really. The Mire Beast is some kind of squid creature from the planet Aridius. It's possible that the Fungoids (aka Gubbage Cones) uplifted the Mire Beasts.

The Chase, mechanoids, fungoids, mire beast


Macra

Design comments

I wanted something Volkswagen-Tachikoma-Tank-like here, there's not a whole lot of material to go on so I'm taking a few liberties.

6 legs, 6 arms, Massive damage!

More concepts - I'm trying out a Beetle design. It's a bit "Machinen Krieger"-esque too I guess.


Gundan

These guys remind me of the Terminator meets the Black knight, and perhaps Gundams, with the samurai thing going on there. Well, that's the mental image I have, I just need to draw it.


War Machines

WOTAN War Machines

WOTAN is a somewhat smart computer which builds war machines. Perhaps some version of it fled Earth, and built an empire somewhere. Above is an old design from '06, which needs to be retro-fied without looking like a cardboard construction. There's some MetalSlug influence in there, I guess.


Vortis hybrids

I think I have some drawings of the Menoptra, Optera, Venom Grubs and Zarbi, somewhere. I'll have to look.


- by Niklas Jansson 2007 - 2010 - Doctor Who and all associated trademarks are BBC - No infringement intended.