This says Part 2, but this is really the third part in a series on true scaling Games Workshop Space Marines. I would recommend you start at the beginning if you haven’t yet.

Heroic Scale is Dead, Games Workshop – A Prologue – Talks about Games Workshop stuff and outdated models
True Scaling Space Marines – Part 1 – A Survey – Overview of why we need to true scale space marines

Previously on the blog:

Last time I discussed why I felt true scaling was important and why the Space Marines are the easiest target for the process. The next question becomes “how do we approach this problem?” Most hobbyists that give true scale a try and complete the project will share their results with the community. When asked about the details they will either give you the basics, showing spacers and all that, others like to show you their awesome sculpting skills and how much you won’t be able to accomplish that. This can give us a starting point, but getting lost in a project like this is extremely easy.

I want to eventually create a real, playable army in true scale. For now we will disregard terminators and vehicles because those are separate problems for separate articles down the road. We will focus on the tactical squads right now. Despite that, my goal is still very lofty and I want the project to be a minimal burden. I’m going to add more emphasis to this: This is a project that easily gets out of control for the aspiring hobbyist, so we need to lay down a few ground rules and temper our expectations before we begin.

We need to establish limits to our own scope to prevent project fatigue and we need to make sure we aren’t going so crazy as to cut Games Workshop completely out of the loop, because that IS why we are here. We love Warhammer and we want it to continue, but we want to change Games Workshops course and bring the models into the 21st century, not keep reliving the 90s. If this project becomes too much work we might as well just pick up another game.

Research and Development

Like any good art project, the first thing we need is something to reach for. I like to create an inspiration folder filled with images that get me excited about the project and show me possibilities for the direction I want to go. I maintain files for all my potential art projects in a similar manner. Honestly, it sounds girly, but Pinterest is the best way to do this in the digital world. Optimally, if you have the resources, I recommend printing out your images and collect them on a cork board inside your workspace to help keep you focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. When you are knee deep in fifty dollar cut up kits and poor sculpting, you will feel terrible. You need to understand you will fail between here and true scale marine nirvana. But you have to keep practicing.

We need to get some art together from the internet (poor mans concept art) or our favorite books produced by Games Workshop, Black Library, Forge World, and Fantasy Flight. Exploring other media avenues such as the Space Marine video game and the *vomits* Ultramarines movie can be productive too.

There are a few images I pulled from my own inspiration folder filled with hundreds of examples.

The images above really target the awe and power of the Adeptus Astartes. They properly illustrate the scale and demonstrate that the Marines don’t have to be frankenstein monsters to be large and in charge.

For the purposes of this particular study I’m going to choose Karl Kopinski’s World Eater as the de-facto standard I want to achieve. This work gives us ideal proportions but, as a bonus, no portions of the figure are obstructed and we don’t have to compete with odd perspective, such as that on the Karl Kosinski Red Scorpion image. In this regard the second image of the top row is also helpful to to keep the scale in check throughout the process.

In addition to keeping and optionally printing the images you collect I took the liberty of sizing and printing the Kopinski World Eater and the three figure scale image to compare to my reference miniature. When we reach the construction phase this will give us invaluable scale reference with the plastic parts. I think this gives us the basics to move forward.

Having a rudimentary understanding of anatomy will help us visualize exactly what we are looking to achieve in the model. I’ve pulled some references about this from the internet as well. The first image below shows us exactly why the marines are so poorly executed compared to a normal human frame. The other images demonstrate proportions and even demonstrate the scale of space marines and humans using a real life example. This is all probably more information than any layman needs, but as an artist this is invaluable reference material to study. Your own eye will also help identify any massive proportion issues. If it looks or feels wrong, chances are it is.

As an aside, to help your figure building, I recommend watching how people move while walking and learning about contrapposto. You might look silly, but walk and watch how your hips move, make poses in a full length or large bathroom mirror. These ideas apply way outside of true scaling and will help you build more believable miniatures out of the box or of your own creation.

True scaling is not a new art form. This has been done hundreds of times by hundreds of different people using virtually every technique imaginable. My personal reaction to a project like this would be to simply start from scratch and build a 3D model of a marine in Zbrush using Kopinski’s art as a guide. But, i don’t know how to 3d model, and, as i mentioned earlier, one of my main goals is to NOT cut Games Workshop out of the equation entirely. If i start from scratch i fall back into the “just play another game” issue. Plus, I don’t want to create new elements for every single piece in the kit.

My desire would be to maximize compatibility with the new 6th edition tactical marine boxset. I also want to take advantage of the new 32mm bases. I want to stay away from the gigantic 40mm bases people traditionally use for their true scale projects. This will keep the army looking large, make sense for scale, and keep it legal for players to boot.

To formulate a build plan we need to look at those who came before. Below are just a few samples of true scale marine projects, but they are the ones that inspired me to head in this direction, to change my hobby into an art form. I recommend you just get on google and start searching “true scale space marines”. Follow the holes when you find one project because it will inevitably lead to more, sometimes juicer, projects that google doesn’t reference.

I’m going to focus my effort on getting results like Migsula’s work [note: old site that focuses on this style of work], the first image in particular. He also did the second piece. However, the second image is a completely different technique, also used by Veteran Sergeant in the third image. Although a viable and interesting technique I’m not going to spend too much time on it, because I’ve tried this way and I was ultimately dissatisfied with its work load and visual appearance. I don’t believe the “bulk” of a space marine is accurately represented. The last image is the legendary work of Apologist. His work is well known, but i don’t like a handful of techniques he uses. Just personal preference. You probably won’t like all of my techniques either. That is no problem. Explore and develop ideas for yourself too.

[ Note: Veteran Sergeant goes above and beyond, lovingly converting every detail to his exacting specifications. His incredible conversions inspired me to start this true scale obsession of mine. He showed me the potential of taking the hobby by the balls. Here is his thread on DakkaDakka. Thread on Bolter and Chainsword. He also has a great home-brew Chapter called the Invectors. His interpretation of the fluff is incredible.]

With the research done we can now begin forming a plan to build the marine. I’ll leave you to dig out the dirty details on each of the above and, hopefully, other true scale projects you’ve found (perhaps another article on that or I could answer questions). For the torso I’ve developed a hybrid terminator and tactical chest technique to get the size, details, and, most importantly, the bulk that I want. The torso will require a bit of bulking out to create a smooth and unified piece. I’ll be using standard terminator legs with the addition of numerous spacers to add height to the model. A bit of easy sculpting will round out the model to create the tactical squad look we are going for.

Creating a Blueprint

build plan

To accommodate this plan we will need to draw up a quick conversion guide from our notes and references. This doesn’t have to be a masterwork. Just jotting down the cuts, sculpting, and parts we will need for the largest part of the work. My goal is to only modify two parts in the kit: the torso and the legs. Everything should just be used straight out of the tactical box, barring any further necessary modifications. We can create a shopping list from this guide and ensure we have all the pieces to get started.

The first thing you’ll need is a couple of Games Workshop kits. You will need the new 6th edition tactical squad box without a doubt. You could also buy a space marine terminator box to get all the great bits that come with it, but you’ll end up with a truck load of arms that you can’t use, at least until we start trying to super size terminators. Otherwise you’ll need to buy ten terminator legs and ten terminator torsos from your preferred bits dealer.

[Quick aside: despite what games workshop would have you believe, you are supporting games workshop by purchasing bits. You buy bits, the sellers inventory dwindles, and they buy more kits to split the parts up for sale. As a result, games workshop makes money.]

I want to put the miniatures on 32mm bases but I haven’t seen them included in the 6th edition tactical sets yet. If yours didn’t include those, then just pick up a box of 32mm stands through games workshop or ebay.

I’m going to be adding 2mm of height to the space marine by adding two pieces of 1mm (0.40″) styrene to the foot and shin area. However, i’m going to use a razor saw on the shin to get a straight cut, so the full 1mm won’t be in use, making up for the material destroyed by the saw plus a bit more.

Because there is sculpting involved, albeit I put as little emphasis on it as possible, we will need some sculpting supplies in addition to our standard array of modeling implements (saw, exacto knife, files, sand paper, seam remover). I use Aves Apoxie Sculpt or Fixit, kneadtite/ “green stuff” works fine too. You probably want to look at a set of rubber tipped clay shapers, because working without them will simply suck.

Raw Parts List (no tools):

  • 1x Tactical Box – ($40.00 Vanilla, $43.00 Blood Angels, $60.00 Grey Knights, $39.00 Chaos etc. Retail Cost.)
  • 10x Terminator Torsos and Legs – ($50.00 Vanilla, Space Wolves, Grey Knights Terminator Kit, $60.00 Dark Angels or Blood Angels. Retail Cost. 5 terminators are in each box, so you will need 2 kits, On Ebay bits vendors charge roughly $10.00-$15.00 for both the 5 torsos and 5 legs)
  • 10x 32mm Bases – ($5.00 retail, only if not in tactical box kit)
  • Evergreen Scale Models 1mm Sheet Styrene – $5.00 tops
  • Aves Apoxie Sculpt – $6.50 (Great)
    – OR Fixit Sculpt $10.00 (Amazing)

Next time we will discuss creating the actual space marine! So… a tutorial! Neat… i didn’t see that coming.

1 Comment »

  1. I was reminded of this post today, and realized I forgot to leave you a comment before. I’m really glad you liked my work and the Invectors chapter. Thanks for the link. The blog itself has also migrated to WordPress as well.

    And don’t worry about getting distracted (like you posted elsewhere). My own work is a series of fits and starts and changes of direction and interest. Excited to see where you get with yours, even if it only happens “eventually”. People who follow my blog have probably been waiting 3-4 years to see if I’ll ever “finish” it, haha.


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