Friday, January 6, 2017

Building a True-scale Space Marine

And they shall know no fear.

Making true-scale marines has been very popular as of late, much of it stemming from all the excellent examples Migs and many others have created over the years. With this in mind, we wanted to try our hands at creating one. We really wanted to try to address some of the questionable anatomy that Space Marines have developed over the years (incredibly wide thigh gap, lack of a proper abdomen, questionable arm attachment points), and try to create a suit of armour that a person could conceivably fit into.

The marine is an interesting collection of space marine and terminator parts brought together with green stuff.

As with most true scale marines, I started using Terminator legs. After shaving off the loin cloth of a pair of Cataphractii terminator legs, it became very clear that the model had an outrageously large thigh gap (something that is very common with most Space marine models, too). Furthermore, they connect to the groin extremely awkwardly, as if they were attached to the side of the hip. To fix this I cut off the legs and reattached them; to do this I needed to remove this little armored “fins” on the upper leg armor. Along with reattaching the legs, I had to widen the waist and abdomen. All of the plastic terminator models have woefully short abdomens, which directly attach to the chestpiece. The chest pieces are shaped like a ribcage, so most terminators look like their waist attaches directly to their ribcage.

After removing the loincloth from the Terminator legs, it became extremely obvious that something was wrong with them. Humans do not have a thigh gap as pronounced as what the terminators exhibit. I diagramed what the marine would have to look like fit into that armour, along with a normal human groin to help illustrate this point. 

The unnatural thigh gap is present on both normal Space marine legs and Terminator legs. To remedy this, the Terminator legs had to be separately removed and reattached closer together.

After reattaching the legs to the groin, next I had to widen the waist and the abdomen, as they were far to thin. I did this in stages, first widening the waist, before widening the abdomen. I also lengthened the abdomen considerably. I have included some red lines on the pictures to help illustrate how thin the waist was initially.

For arms, I found that terminator arms were far too short. I ended up using parts of Tartaros terminator arms, but created a lot of the upper arm with green stuff. Interestingly, normal marine shoulder pads still fit, size-wise, so I did not need to modify them. Nearly all of the weapons in 40K are comically oversized, but I found that they were just the right size for my true-scale marine. I could not resist trying to make some subtle improvements to his boltgun, though. It is based on one of the new plastic Deathwatch ones, since they are a little shorter. I extended the barrel with a piece from a power armoured Grey Knight’s backpack. I made a folding stock with a piece from a Sicarian Ruststalker, and the buttplate from a Dark Eldar rifle. With a little cutting I was able to modify the iron sights to look usable, including doing some minor green stuff work to make it look like the rear sight was adjustable. Because the marine was not going to be holding the weapon in a position to fire, I resculpted the his trigger finger off the trigger.

I had to sculpt the majority of the arms, as terminator arms are far too short. Humorously, all 40K weaponry is so oversized that it manages to be the perfect size for a true-scale marine without any modification.  

The body was based on a Grey Knight terminator body, with the segmented front armor of a Adeptus Mechanicus Kataphron Breacher. I carved off the topmost plate of the Breacher armor, and carved off the lower teeth-like protrusions from the second segment, such that it did not give the illusion that the marine’s ribcage was too large. I used green stuff to bulk out the rest of the breastplate and make it flush with this extra armor plate. One of the most important elements for making the marine look natural was attaching the arms properly, which were seated considerably lower than what is seen on the normal plastic marines. The effect also relied on extending/sculpting the models neck. It is worth noting that I used one of the old plastic tactical squad bare heads (circa 3rd edition 40k), because they are larger than the bare heads on most of the current plastic Space Marine sprues.

The progression of creating the marine’s torso. It began with a Grey Knight terminator body, upon which the armor plates from a Kataphron Breacher were added. These were cut down substantially before green stuff was used to fill out the gaps and make the breastplate look continuous.

To make it seem like the marine was truly ready for war, I added a lot of smaller details, a grenade dispenser on his belt, a lot of pouches, a large combat knife, etc. I also gave him a thigh holster for a bolt pistol, which I used green stuff and some brass eagles to create clasps to attach it to his leg. The pistol itself was also modified to have the magazine loaded into the pistol's grip. With these details, I think the marine is basically finished. The whole project took a lot longer than I anticipated, primarily due to the need to at least partially resculpt most aspects of the model. But, I think the end result was worth it!

The true-scale marine is substantially larger than the normal plastic MkIV marines.

The true-scale marine in all of his glory, fully outfitted for war!

Rather than paint this model myself, I decided to give it to Migs (of Iron Sleet) as a gift for allowing my brothers and I to be part of the Pilgrym project, and as a nod to his influence in true-scaling community. Excitingly, the marine might make his way into the new Thorn Moon Crusade. Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions about the marine!

- Adam Wier


  1. He is certainly a big fella! I like how the Kataphron Breacher plates add to the bulk effect of the torso, and of course the iron sights and trigger discipline...

    I have a couple of biggerized/Tru-scale/art-scale marines pending on my own blog, but I have to say that this one is much better than either of my efforts.

    As an aside, you might want to try Mig's trick of greyscaling the initial picture, so that all of the plastic/resin/greenstuff is more homogeneous, I find that it makes it easier to visualize the whole of the figure.

    1. I struggled a lot with getting the upper part of the marine’s armor to look right. I like the effect the Kataphron plates provided. It is tricky business sizing everything correctly...

      I am looking forward to seeing your efforts in creating some true scale marines! It is always great to see how others approach such a conversion.

      Good thought about making the initial image in the post greyscaled. Consider it done!

    2. Oddly, my second true scale marine will be featured on the blog first, due to some need for repaint on the first guy. They use different techniques, so they should both be interesting!

  2. Incredible work Adam. I have been staring at this for quite sometime now trying to take it all in. You clearly put an absolute ton of time and work into this miniature and it shows. The head was a perfect choice and really oozes character. If I could make any suggestions I think it would be to try Terminator Shoulder pads, simply for their width. From the front the upper body looks absolutely perfect, the middle of the last pictures show a gap in the armor though. I ran into a very similar problem when building Bragar with the Nurgle Lord Shoulder pad. I think the Terminator shoulder pad would fix this gap, I'm sure you have your reasons for not though. I think sticking with the standard backpack size was the right choice, a lot of people try to widen the pack which I think looks out of place.

    I really like the addition of all of his gear and the small details that really make it look alive (something found in all of your work). There's a few things that look slightly out of place in the leg area but I believe this is due to visually "implied angles" of the green stuff. With paint added I do not expect that to be the case. Don't look too far into these suggestions or statements, its an absolutely awesome miniature and very well executed. Really really solid work man.

    1. Thanks for all of the suggestions and kind words! I think the shoulderpads ideally would be slightly larger than the normal Space Marine ones. I tried using terminator ones but was not happy with how they looked. They are shaped much differently than the standard marine ones. Maybe next time I will have to attempt to enlarge a standard marine shoulderpad…

      I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get the legs to look right on the marine. But despite that there are a few things that could be improved in future marine conversions. The gilded ‘^’ marks on the thighs should probably have been removed…

    2. I just realized the only Terminator Shoulderpads I have messed with are the Chaos Variety so keep that in mind, I've never held a loyalist terminator shoulder pad so no idea if they vary. Legs are really hard man. I agree about the gilding, it looks like they were possibly not evenly space on the original model to account for the movement implied. Combine that with the other shapes and lines given from the rest of the Cataphractii leg armor and it puts a lot of focus on the models legs, specifically the knees and groin. From the front it looks like the gilding is even across the legs which makes you think the right leg isn't moving above the knee, removing the gilding would change this I believe. It really is clear how much time you spent on the model though, I think once painted a lot of the small things will be corrected simply by removing some of the visual clutter caused by the differing colors. Truly Excellent work.

  3. What a cracking True-scale figure. And a lot of work to boot.

    As always, it's the little details I like the best with your work. The Eagle clasps on the holster and the folding skeleton stock win it for me here.

    The chest piece is the only thing that I find off with a lot of these builds when they are bulked out with green stuff. The Eagle addds visual interest but it's otherwise plain. Jes always went to lengths to add some visual interest to the flat spaces with inspection ports or rivets (both raised and sunken details). That's what I see missing most times with these.

    The other thing that had me thinking was, is the lower abdomen/waist truly wide enough. It looks wide enough to me if that section was unarmoured; but, if there was armour there, in my mind it should have a tad more bulk to thicken that section out. When I tried visualising someone inside the armour I couldn't see how the legs and torso would join with armour over the top. My visualisation saw the legs inside the bulked leg armour running flush with the existing lower abdomen sidewalls and then back inside the bulked upper torso. Hope that makes some sense.

    That aside, this is another great piece mate.

    1. I am glad you like all the small details! It is often hard to know if anyone ever notices them :D

      I kept the breastplate on this marine intentionally very plain to fit with the sleek no nonsense attitude of the Alpha Legion. That being said, I should probably have added some sunken detail like what is seen on the standard tactical marines. I will look to doing something like that on future marines.

      As for whether the torso is wide enough, it is a difficult thing to get right. I widened it a few times, and think it is pretty good now. I went about as wide as I could go without enlarging the model’s legs (it would look odd if his waist extended past the sides of his legs). Part of the problem I think is that the upper part of his breastplate is a hair larger than it needs to be. I think in the future I will try and make the upper part of the marine’s breastplate a little smaller.

      Thanks for all of the critical comments and suggestions. They go a long way in helping me improve my craft. :)

    2. I think you are right about the upper torso being that little bit too large. Now you've said that, it stands out that the issue is less with the lower half of the torso, and more the upper. In any event, its still a brilliant conversion piece mate.

  4. Lovely work, man - I'm always in awe of your kitbashing and greenstuffing. Good stuff!

    1. Thanks! I am glad you like him, it was a great learning experience! I really need to force myself to build another in the somewhat near future. :)

  5. Great work, I love the folding stock in particular.
    Truescaling has never really appealed to me, though I like seeing the efforts others, I think for 2 reasons... most of my Space Marines are metal, and once you start, you can't really stop!

    Good stuff.

    1. There certainly are not enough stocks on bolters! I suppose the old 2nd edition plastic bolters had them. I do agree that true-scaling marines is not really feasible for making armies, it is simply too time intensive and expensive. It works for Inq28 though!

    2. Agreed... I think in 40K also Space MArines are not really that much better than an ordinary human that you can justify them being twice the size, whereas in inq28 you can give them stats that really make them monsters in a way that doesn't upset the balance of the game (particularly with the Rule of 12 or whatever it was you all used in the Pilgrym game).

  6. For me Doghouse (especially) and Apologist are the true pioneers and masters of truescaling and Apologist is still making it look easy.

    Beyond that it's a tremendous job you've done here! I personally dont like the rebreather head but it's not out of place just personal preference :)

    1. You are certainly right, both Doghouse and Apologist (love his Ultramarines!) have helped the true-scaling community immeasurably with their work (both in terms of their miniatures and their tutorials).

      I certainly learned a lot by making this marine and will certainly make a few modifications when I get around to making another.

  7. Good work, as always!
    I am also very keen on seeing any truification attempts because GW anatomy just bleeds my eyes. You are soooo right about the groin gap and lack of abdomen!
    I came to believe that marines are poorly proportioned both in their own physiques and relatively to other GW minis (first of all damn guardsmen, who look almost as bulky while sporting almost no armour!). So my goal was to fix anatomy and relative scale. One thing i came across while fixing the latter was to keep things reasonable if not totally true to the back. I tried using terminator legs and arrived at something close to your results, but - since i was converting grey knights - it immediately raised the question how big is a truescale terminator gonna be? And how big is the truescale SM vehicle should be? Since i was planning on converting an army this thought cooled my ambition. And so i decided to convert power armored SM accordingly, here's my result:

    If there is one thing i would alter in your design it would be lengthening the legs - mainly the knee-down part, if you imagine your marine armorless you'd find the knee is too low. At least i do:)

    1. Thanks for the comment! The scaling on of Space Marines relative to other ranges is really bad. As you mentioned, the standard guardsmen are roughly the same size as the space marine models...

      Thanks for linking all of those pictures. You have done a great job with your modifications. By simply modifying the standard marine components, you leave all of the terminator components to attempt a true scale terminator. Based on what I did with my conversion, I would likely need to do even more sculpting if I wanted to create a properly scaled terminator....

      I think you are right with your critique too; the legs could be a little longer. I have a lot to consider and improve upon with my next true scale marine conversion!