Creative Vacuum

As you have probably noticed I’ve been doing a bit of housekeeping around the site. Updating a few things here, removing a few things there. I’m attempting to refocus the site to be more about developing my work. The events of the last year have put things into perspective for me and I’ve reached a point in my life where I want to further myself as an artist more than anything else. The site has focused on miniature painting of late and that is still an intense interest of mine, but I want to bridge the gap with my other interests, namely writing, and use this site as a platform to develop all of my creative outlets. The miniatures will still play an integral part for some projects.

Unfortunately, due to the disposition of my life I don’t have the opportunity to interact with other artists or writers on a day to day basis. This leads to a deranged, creative mania of sorts with me jumping from one project to another in an effort to stay busy with nothing really getting “done.” For a couple of years now I’ve been struggling with this issue and it isn’t until recently that I’ve come up with a solution to my creative problems. I’ve devised a project that might help my writing, focus my attention, and further my artistic development, forcing me out of my creative vacuum. This would also allow more interaction, critique, guidance, and input from everyone out there floating in the ether that is the internet.

I’ll be putting together the project over the next few weeks and I have the goal of debuting it in March on Youtube. Stay tuned!

Year of Hell

Update: The final day he was here he went through our house and stole items from every member of my family. He was returned home, in his head: victorious. But my family, and his sister are left here to pick up the pieces of our broken lives that he ruined.

I’m upset that I can’t keep this place up for very long without falling off the rails. For that I apologize, especially after my series on true scaling was going so well. I want to explain what’s been up. This isn’t for you so much as it is for myself. I just need to quantify and process everything that’s transpired in the last twelve months.

This time last year we took on my wife’s two youngest half siblings. A girl, the older and a boy, the youngest. Two more teenagers in addition to our own teenager. We don’t have a lot, but they were not in a good way and my wife, knowing how her mother was, could not let the kids remain in their situation. We decided to risk everything to help them.

With the aid of my own family we provided for their material needs: their own rooms, new furniture, new iphones, laptops, clothing, televisions, everything we or our son had, we made sure they had. As their stand in parents we also provided support, advice, counseling, schooling, encouragement, a stable living situation, commitment and love. But with that love and commitment comes boundaries, borders, and correction. I guess that was their first problem with living with us.

Things were awkward for them as they got adjusted. There were ups and downs that we chalked up to them being both young and out of their element. They had lived in the same town for their entire lives up until then. We knew there would be some growing pains. But, my wife and I were unprepared for all the pains. Weeks of talking, supporting, and encouraging led to a brief calm, but the youngest was still very defiant. I tried to open them up to a world of opportunities that lay before them. All they had to do was believe that they had the ability to take them. That didn’t go over so well.

By April the youngest was in open insurrection against us and nothing we did would change his mind. He had failed to adjust and wanted nothing to do with us. He wanted to go back home. Everything he claimed he needed we gave him: Love, attention, judo lessons, a job. He was unable to see how we were sacrificing for him. With each thing we gave him to quell his needs he turned against us as a problem contributing to his displeasure.

To pay for the rising costs and grocery bill my wife took on a second job, working upwards of ninety hours a week so all of us could eat well. I had been a stay at home father for my son as he grew up, clearing the way for my wife to pursue her career, but I had to take on a job too. But, without an adult in the house at all times, the situation deteriorated quickly. My over worked wife was stressed beyond belief trying to appease and contain the spiteful teen. I was forced to quit a job enjoyed very much to maintain order.

Despite all the defiance the youngest had in fact changed, although he would probably never admit to it. His outlook had shifted, his respect for others went up, he got straight As for the first time in his life, was on the honor role. He had earned employee of the month at his job, and scored the highest military ASVAB score in his high school. But, no matter how much he gained in being here he couldn’t get his head out of being back at home. The only way I can describe it is that his real family had zero expectations for him and I think that was simply easier for him to handle (I.E. laziness). Worse yet he attributed all of those wins purely to himself and didn’t see in any way, shape, or form, that our help gave him a platform to succeed (I.E. Selfishness).

In the last three months his insurrection against my wife and I turned to life altering disappointment, and sometimes criminal action.

When the kids became employed, in order to facilitate a positive start in their adult lives, they agreed to put 2/3rds of their job earnings into their own savings accounts. The rest would be for them to spend as they pleased. Our only request was not to use the money in the savings account. Unfortunately, he did. After I caught him he agreed it was dumb and went to set it right. Within twenty days he did it again, but even more, to buy collectible shoes.

After this he was fired from his job for failing to request off for a family holiday. We gave him over a month of notice and he either failed to follow up with the request or he lied to us about actually requesting it off. When we returned he was fired for job abandonment.

Later, he was caught giving another child at school his medication. His status as an exemplary student is the only thing that earned him a reprieve from felony charges being filled on him for distribution of a controlled substance and potentially ruining his life. Due to the nature of what my wife does, we told him that this was the end. He had one more shot to get right.We couldn’t risk his activities affecting our family nor did we want to see him ruin his life. We loved him and the more we tried to hold on to him, sometimes for his own safety, the more he tried to squirm free.

The next school day after his suspension he asked kids to punch him in the restroom hoping the incident would incite our threat to return him home. The police couldn’t punish him because they didn’t have enough evidence but knew exactly what he had done. We were awestruck, disappointed, and saddened. Everything we had done to help. Everything he had accomplished. He simply didn’t care. He would give in to selfish pride.

After he was fired from his first job he was given an opportunity to work at my wife’s second job as a waitress. Through the mercy of my wife and a sympathetic manager he got employed as a bus boy. He was excited to get working again. He loved that people liked him and that they gave him free food. After a mere three weeks he was caught stealing tip money… not just from another server, from my wife. After he was caught, on camera no less, the management believed that he was the reason for money going missing conveniently around the time he was hired. He was banned from the restaurant and fired without remorse.

At this junction you might be wondering why we hadn’t already sent him back. I’m only outlying the huge things. This doesn’t include the day to day minutia of him being almost unable to listen to basic direction. Everyday was a struggle. Oh yeah, he even used judo to throw my own, twelve year old son (at the time), on the bare ground when they got into a fight.

None of this includes the things the other older child was going through. This doesn’t include the rare times my son would have issues, or my wife’s work issues, or my wife’s second work issues, or my wife’s other brother’s career and family falling apart (whom had also lived with us before these two), or my own, simple problems.

Everything just kept piling up and we couldn’t ever find a moment to breathe. Every month there was a large meltdown facilitated by him and buried underneath the debris of everyone’s day to day problems. Each month when things finally started to calm, just for a moment, they would both blame us and say were weren’t trying hard enough to make it work. When things got tough and we tried to rein him in he would tell my wife he was going to deliberately make our lives a living hell.

I would try and counsel him, advise him, and guide him. Hours and hours of talking and shedding tears with and for him. The sleepless nights of my wife and i crying in our bedroom hoping he would come around, praying for his clarity and well being. My wife and I both knew that sending him back wasn’t an option since the beginning, but after stealing from us, after everything else, we have to send him back and he doesn’t care one bit. In fact, he chalks it up as a victory for himself.

We’re now waiting for the court decision to release us from guardianship so he can return to his parents that neglected him, that told him they didn’t want him, that let him run amok, let his school work go unnoticed, that hit him, that couldn’t keep the lights on, that couldn’t keep the heat on, that are on welfare, that live in a house were heroine addicts go to die, that can’t stop doing drugs, that can’t stop smoking, that can’t stop drinking, that can’t stop stealing from their own family. All of that is apparently easier than living with us. I guess we were truly terrible human beings.

Even before we sent out the court paperwork we pleaded with him to stay. We gave him a final chance to make things right because we know what apathy awaits him back home. He might have forgotten, but we haven’t. My wife hasn’t. He didn’t care, and, in fact, went out of his way to make sure we understood he didn’t want to be here by trying to get his parents to recite back the exact procedure with the court documents to him once they arrived. His mother even took this important conversation with him and attempted to divert it to her and what other people in her family were doing in their lives. She couldn’t even hold her attention on him long enough to get things straight. Long enough to help him work through what he considered to be so important. There was no urgency, no care on her part and he’s so blind that he can’t see it. To him, it was irrelevant.

My wife just sat and cried.

Most would probably sleep easier knowing, finally, that he doesn’t have a shred of compassion for what we attempted to do for him, but my wife and I still feel terrible for him and everything he’s giving up on. Life can be disheartening when you have higher hopes for someone than they have for themselves.

Once all the dust settles I plan to get this place running again.

True Scale Space Marines – Part 3 – Building Legs

Note: I apologize in advance for the delay. The family took an impromptu vacation last week among other responsibilities that have cropped up.

Before I begin I have to say that I never expected to be doing any type of tutorial on my website. As time has gone on my interest in this hobby have gone from purely painting to “forging a narrative (collective groan here).” Building my own miniatures from bits and sculpting elements of them, giving them stories and developing each of them, has really amped up my enjoyment of the hobby. Much more than any codex or model that Games Workshop has released of late.

As a person who offers commissions I think some people feel that sharing hobby knowledge with the unwashed masses of the internet potential customers goes against every sane business decision. Why give when you can sell. However, I believe that the core of my business is comprised of people who simply don’t have enough time. The bulk of my customers are avid gamers that just want their armies to look good when they get an opportunity to play a round. If they had the same type of passion for the hobby as I do (not discounting passion for the story or overall game), they would be doing it for themselves as much as me. Because that experience is personal.

I don’t feel bad sharing these tips and tricks with everyone. I don’t want to make money on this type of thing unless some simply can’t do it with their skill set or simply doesn’t have time to learn. We should be expanding the hobby, particularly in these types of fields, because we WANT Games Workshop and others to notice what we really want out of our models and our games. We want them to change some of their design practices. We want them to considering being something more than the same thing they’ve been in the past.

Sorry for the tangent, I just wanted to express that growing the hobby and taking ownership of it in your own way is what this should truly be all about and my site and blog will reflect that accordingly over the coming weeks.


IMG_1910In the last article I came up with a shopping list of all the kits, parts, and components we would need to complete a ten man squad of true scale space marines. Hopefully in the break between these articles, if you are following along, you’ve had an opportunity to pick up those items and you are ready to get started.

[ Now I recommended the clay shapers, they aren’t 100% necessary, just… like 99% necessary… look, you probably should have gotten them. ]

I purchased the tactical squad in its entirety from a great ebay seller who has the absolute rock bottom prices for this stuff. I recommend getting the entire kit because we will need everything but the legs to complete our figures. They don’t send the box to save on shipping costs, which is free to you in addition to a nice discount. I already own the vanilla terminator kit, which is shit lackluster (Don’t get excited, the new ones are shit shit too), so I opted to buy just another set of legs and torsos from a reputable bits dealer on ebay for a total of ten legs and torsos.

If you are working on Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, etc. you might have some extra work cut out for you. I’m making an Ultramarines army because, internet be damned, I love them. Most of the more advanced kits will be the same, except for maybe the sergeant figure having a loin cloth or a toga, but if you follow the instructions and cut around those elements as best you can, leaving them intact, they should be excellent details for your new marines.

I had Aves Fixit, clay shapers, and the Evergreen 1mm card in my studio already.


IMG_1912For the bulk of the work you’ll need a small selection of standard tools. All of these can be picked up at a local hobby store or a Hobby Lobby. I have a few Games Workshop pieces from my ignorant earlier days in the hobby, but they still serve their purpose. Their are “generic” versions of all these items. Don’t get suckered into paying for the Games Workshop nonsense unless you can get a nice discount.

Cutting Mat – I have an 18″x24″ Mat and as you can see it is well worn. I have bled with this mat and we have vanquished many a miniature to Sto’Vo’Kor on her gridded surface.

Rigid bristle brush – from the defunct citadel mold line clean up kit. Came with a really poor mold line remover and this handy dandy brush with plastic bristles. I use it to clean the plastic feces from the crevices of the model after i sand, cut, whatever. Creating true scale marines is a dirty job, so we need to keep the miniature clean.

Exacto knife – Get a standard one with a comfortable grip. Get the #11 blades. You need a few fresh blades for this project. And, please, be careful. This is the primary reason I have bled “with” my mat.

File – A small, flat file from a standard set or a flat “jewelers” file is fine.

Sprue cutter – a strong sprue cutter, particularly the large one from the jewelry making section of Hobby Lobby will make plastic its bitch.

Seam Scraper – This piece is optional and kind of specialty. As far as i know it can only be bought from micro mark for an exorbitant price. However, i use this tool everyday and couldn’t do my work without it. The price is worth it if you use it nearly as much as I do. When it gets dull, run your flat file over the edges to sharpen it back up.

Cork Backed ruler – Essential. Pick this up at hobby lobby near the drafting supplies. I use the six inch version. For miniatures you rarely need more than a six inch cut, however because of my art background I have the entire line. You will need this for scoring styrene sheet in a straight line.

Razor/ “Bone” Saw – This is the citadel turd saw. Luckily, it’s no longer made because i guess Games Workshop doesn’t believe you’ll ever want to cut up there monopose awesome miniatures. Just get a hobby saw with a metal or wooden handle and interchangeable blades. We will be using this to hack the legs apart at the shins. The amount of debris this creates is why we need the plastic brush.

Glue – Not pictured, but i figured this was obvious. Since we are going to be gluing to putty, cyanoacrylate type glue is best. Preferably one with a precision applicator. An accelerator is your call but I recommend against it in this case.


This is a process that requires patience. You are working with sharp tools on a figure smaller than your thumb. Just take your time. These figures won’t come together overnight. The kits are expensive and ruining an element, particularly a leg or front torso from the terminator kit, is the end of your progress until you can source a new piece. Observe your work before you cut. Make cuts slowly and purposefully (away from you). Overall, be safe!

The Legs

IMG_1913IMG_1914I’ve got my five terminator legs in front of me. Each of them look like kids straining not to shit themselves. I hate Games Workshop posing if you haven’t gathered that from my angry rants in every article I write. I’m going to start with the fourth set in the picture, the walking legs, for this tutorial. I think these are the most versatile and have a good mix of elements I can discuss about removing.

1. Remove Mold Lines

IMG_1918You will have to remove the mold lines at some point. Now would probably be the best time to do that while the model is wholly intact. This is pretty self explanatory. If you are trying to create true scale marines I’m assuming you have some moderate hobby knowledge. But, for the sake of completeness, I’ll include this.

I use the file to remove the sprue connection points after cutting the element free. Gently grind those down to the surface of the miniature. You don’t need to push much. Use the brush to clean up the debris.

I use my seam scraper to dispatch the mold lines quickly. You can use your tool of preference. Most use a sharp hobby knife (front or back of the blade) or a file. Whatever works for you, do it. I find the micro mark seam scraper, with its pointed blade, gets into details and tight areas really nicely without sacrificing “handling.” I can use it to quickly resculpt or chisel out details too.

2. Remove Knee Detail

IMG_1919Because these are terminator legs they are festooned with all sorts of 1st company and veteran markings. Unless you are creating a 1st company unit, command squad, or veteran sergeant, all these markings need to be removed.

To remove large amounts of plastic, I like to cut down the area with my sprue cutters. Remove small chucks of the icon bit by bit, whittling the icon down roughly to the surface of the knee pad. Make sure you observe the surrounding areas to properly gauge how far you should be cutting away. The cutters can easily get away from you in this situation and you’ll find yourself cutting into the knee.

IMG_1920When you’ve removed the bulk of the icon, use your file to slowly sand away the remainder of the plastic around the top and edges. Observe carefully and round out the kneepad to bring it to an unaltered state. Look at the contour of the opposite kneepad and use it as a guide to help shape it up.

Referencing other parts of the model closely can help you make determinations about how something should look when it comes time to clean up. Checking for accurate cutting and cleaning depth, as well as checking for accurate measurements are all things you’ll find yourself doing repeatedly during the true scaling process.

3. Remove Purity Seal

IMG_1922This model has a sculpted on purity seal on one of the right thigh armor which I want to remove. Because purity seals can be attached separately I don’t believe these types of details should ever be sculpted on, but that is my personal opinion. Sculpted on details like purity seals can lead to reduced details in other areas, such as joints that are part of the core model, which is why I think these types of things should be separately applied.

To remove this one, I take my sprue cutters and lay the flat side of the cutter on the thigh guard, using it as a straight edge to make a straight cut. I sheer off the bulk of the purity seal in one, slow cut.

IMG_1926For the remainder of the ribbon I’ll, again, lay the flat side of the cutters against the bottom of the the thigh guard and trim away the ribbon pieces. What I can’t completely remove I’ll delicately remove using an exacto knife.

Smooth the surface of the thigh guard slowly with a file, careful to round it out like the other. I use the seam scraper to gently clean up the surface marring the file does to the piece.

4. Remove Knee Bolts

IMG_1934I like removing the armor knee joint bolts because I think it really brings home the tactical armor feel. They can be left on for a chunky, more mechanical look if that is what you are going for and it is used to good effect on other true scale projects. On chaos space marines i might leave them on to show the armor is older.

Using the sprue cutters, remove as much of the bolt as possible. Like cutting the purity seal, use the flat side of the cutters as a guide and you can usually remove the entire bolt, more or less in one cut. Once removed you’ll have a surface that looks integrated into the knee pad covering the exposed joint between the shin and thigh armor. Just clean the surface with a file and seam scraper.

IMG_1935Unless you are an experienced sculptor you may want to simply leave the joint alone at this point. Because of the plastic casting process the bolt detail rises from the surface of the joint. This means that if you wanted to remove the entire bolt down to the joint, you would have to dig out that plastic, reshape the knee pad, and possibly resculpt the entire rear knee joint. Not an impossible task, I’m just not entirely sure the results are worth the time and effort necessary for the first time modeler, plus you risk mutilating the part if you don’t have experience which can get costly after one or two of these terminator components becomes disfigured.

5. Remove Ankle Hoses

IMG_1936Some Space Marine tactical squad figures have ankle hoses on them, so you can leave these on, but i personally don’t like the way they look. I don’t think they are practical either. Having exposed hoses, containing whatever valuable fluids, hanging loose to get snagged in a war zone, probably isn’t the smartest idea. Off they come.

Use the sprue cutters, flat side against the shin armor, to make a straight cut and remove the hose. You’ll be left with part of the hose sculpted IMG_1937into the foot. Do the same to remove most of the hose there too. You’ll need to observe how the shin armor should look and carefully remove the hose remnants with a knife or seam scraper.

6. Remove Belt Buckle

IMG_1940The last component we need to remove is the belt buckle. Terminator belt buckles are usually veteran themed. Eventually we will replace this with the belt from a tactical squad front torso. Depending on the torso and the pose you are going for we may have to modify this later, but for now we’ll just remove the buckle and a bit of the belt around it to make room for the wider tactical belt.

Just use your hobby knife to slowly make a cut about 1mm wider than the actual buckle itself on either side. The buckle on the tactical squad kit is 4mm wide, so you’ll need an opening wide enough to accommodate. If you cut to much out we can always use some putty to resculpt that area. Following the picture above cut into the belt towards the torso on either side of the belt like indicated on 1.

IMG_1941Because we are cutting into something that we can’t cut in a straight line we’ll have to cut the belt away at an angle. Look at 2 above. Cut one side, starting at the outer edge and cut at a slight angle towards the opposite interior side of the buckle, careful not to cut the torso. Do this on the opposite side to remove the bulk. Because of the cuts you made in 1 the belt material should come loose. Use the knife to cut away the rest and create a smooth surface. You can go over it with your seam scraper to smooth the surface down.

Now we’ve cleaned the miniature and removed all the details. Doing this now, before we make large cuts or we begin sculpting, will make the job much easier.

7. Making Cuts

IMG_1944We’ll use the razor saw to make two cuts, one on each leg. Because we are using a razor saw and not an exacto knife we will be cutting away material from the legs. That material will be destroyed in the cutting process, removing height if the components were glued back together. However, the razor saw is extremely thin and we’ll be inserting a 1mm plasticard spacer in between the components to actually replace the lost height and then some. Not an extremely noticeable amount, just enough to elongate the shin armor in a natural way. If you wanted a shorter marine you could vary up your forces by not cutting the legs. I think it makes the marine look more natural.

Secure the legs and use the razor saw to cut into the shin armor. Be as straight as possible. Don’t IMG_1945push down on the saw because this could cause it to wobble and mess up the straightness of the cut. If the cut is not straight the component could look odd, or the foot may not be straight when the pieces are put back together. Cut in an area that doesn’t affect details. If you have sculpted on details you will have to work around those as best you can.

In the end you’ll have three total pieces.

8. Spacers

The spacers for the legs are created from 1mm plasticard, better known as styrene sheet. I IMG_1947use the Evergreen scale models brand personally. There is also plastruct. I don’t recommend buying styrene from a hobby supplier brand like gale force nine because they charge you the same amount for about one quarter the amount of styrene. Get into a hobby store that sells plastic model kits, except hobby lobby, and you should find what you need. The shops that sell trains are a very good place to find what you need.

Cutting this styrene out doesn’t need to be an exact science, but you do need enough to cover the entire surface area of the legs. I tend to cut mine a bit larger because when you join the legs together you’ll find that the angle of the legs causes a gap.

IMG_1948Get your cork backed ruler and nice, new, sharp #11 exact blade and get an approximate width. Depending on where you cut the leg you’ll need anywhere from 5-8mm wide. Again, you don’t need to be that precise. Hold the ruler down and DO NOT try to cut through the styrene. Run the blade along the surface with gentle pressure. You want to score the surface with two or three even pressured strokes. Cutting through the styrene is the wrong approach and will yield terrible results. Once the surface is scored, simply bend and snap the styrene at the score and it will break free easily. Do the same to cut out your squares from the length. I recommend you cut the squares about 1cm wide to make sure you have enough surface area to cover any weird angles.

You’ll need to cut out a total of four for each set of legs. That’s forty pieces for a ten man tactical squad! Two will be inserted at the shin where we cut the legs apart. The other two will be applied to the feet to add a bit more height to the marine.

Once you have your squares cut, lightly file the surface of each square on both sides. You don’t have to take a lot of material off, you’re just looking to remove the smooth surface and create a slight texture. You want to file the leg pieces as well where you cut into the shins and file the soles of the feet. Lightly scratching the surface strengthens the bond of the glue when the legs are reassembled.

9. Reassemble


Glue the spacers to the top of the removed feet first. You just need a dab of glue. With a small bit of pressure the glue will spread and should grab fast with the surface area marked up. I don’t think an accelerator is necessary. Plus this will allow you a bit of time to center the styrene. You want to center the styrene over the surface where you have some overhang all around, particularly in the back where the angle of the leg can cause gaps. I do the bottoms first because this is more likely to be the largest surface of the shin and eliminates potential for gaps.

After a few moments of waiting for the glue to dry add another small dab of glue to the top of the newly attached styrene and get ready to attach it to the severed upper legs and torso. When you reattach the legs you need to make sure you are looking around the entire leg because there will be alignment issues due to the goofy leg angles. If you aren’t careful you’ll miss a side and the leg won’t stand up properly or the line of the shin armor won’t properly align.

Now you just want to glue the spacers to the bottom of the feet. Make sure you center the styrene squares where you have some overlap on all sides. Give everything time to dry before doing anymore work to allow the glue to bond.

10. Blend the Styrene to the Plastic

IMG_1961This is the final part of this phase. After this we’ll have to fill in the gaps and thicken up the legs with some Aves Fixit, but I’ll cover that in a tutorial focused on all the sculpting elements.

After the glue has had time to set use your clippers to trim away as much of the over hanging styrene as possible. Like before lay the flat side of clippers against the model to use as a guide. Go around all the styrene on the model and whittle away as much as possible with the clippers. Don’t cut any of the plastic. When you’re done you’ll have something like the second photo on the left.

IMG_1962After you’ve trimmed the bulk away you can use your file and gently file the styrene to meet the surface of the plastic. Remember not to push too hard because you are looking to only sand the styrene, not the model. You want a seamless transition between the two materials when you paint so they look like they were like this all along. Go around the model until everything is nice and smooth, the shins and the feet both. Take your time here and don’t get into a rush, this is where patience will pay off.

If you are sanding down and you notice a gap, don’t worry. We can fill this area up with putty when we do all the sculpting (Those clay shapers will help enormously… *hint hint*). Eventually you’ll have a smooth set of legs.

That’s it for building the legs! Don’t get discouraged if this seems like a lot of work, it is. I know this process is time consuming, but the reward are well worth all the effort. I’ve completed a prototype marine and I can’t live with the normal marines anymore. The Primarchs are even in scale now! You’ll never be able to go back once you’ve created your first.

In the next tutorial we’ll build the torso for the marine. In the meantime you can work on perfecting the leg technique by building the rest of your squad’s legs. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

True Scale Intermission

UPDATE June 4: I’m working on the true scale tutorial now! Almost done with the first article on the legs.

Sorry about the delay for the next article on true scale. I haven’t given up.

I’m waiting for my bits order to arrive. I have everything except the fresh terminator legs and torsos I need to demonstrate every step of the process from scratch. I opted for bits rather than a full terminator kit since i have those bits hanging around already. The vanilla terminator kit is rather lackluster anyway. I have several 6th edition marine kits and I already purchased my 32mm bases.

I do have a demi-squad of five true scale marines in various stages of completion, one of which is already completed, painted and all, as a proof of concept. The surprisingly thing is that the model is 95% amazing! I can’t explain to you how well the plan came together. There are only minor problems with the waist, so I may try to bulk that out with putty in the second prototype before I finalize the tutorial. Aside from some minor belt quibbles, i’ve only lost one set of legs due to an over ambitious attempt to completely straighten out the legs. I’m probably not going to attempt that for the time being.

With some of the experimenting going on, I’m working on some other advanced techniques like removing the terminator thigh guards and removing the feet and hands for repositioning. I hope to do a seperate article for these types of modifications once I’m done working with a few ideas. I will do them at the end after I’ve created the tutorials on the basic construction of the figure.

After doing some thinking and structuring the tutorial articles, i’m probably going to break the tutorial itself into two parts. One for the legs and one for the torso. Neither is “difficult” but do require some explanation on what to do. Both will have plenty of pictures. I’ve toyed with the idea of some video, but I’m not sure if I’m confident enough for all that.

Painting Vulcan is more or less done. I do still plan to do the Horus production video log. I’m excited by that project and will probably do it immediately after this true scale thing is done. After the Horus log I have an even larger project that ties this true scaling project into some of my other interests and ideas.

The bits look like they will arrive on Monday according to the tracking, so expect the first article by this time next week. I’ll probably be starting with the legs, followed by the torso, advanced techniques, and an “epilogue” post. Stay tuned!

True Scale Space Marines – Part 2 – Taking Action

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 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 seperate 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. 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 third image of the top row is also helpful to to keep the scale in check throughout the process.

Figure SizingIn 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 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 32mm bases 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 planTo 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 seller inventory dwindles, and they buy more kits to spilt 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. minus any discounts)
  • 10x Terminator Torsos and Legs – ($50.00 Vanilla, Space Wolves, Grey Knights Terminator Kit, $60.00 Dark Angels or Blood Angels minus any discounts. 5 terminators are in each box, so you will need 2 kits, Ebay bits vendor $10.00-$15.00 each for a 5 part set of torsos and 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.

True Scale Space Marines – Part 1 – A Survey


Space Marines are the Rob Liefeld art of Games Workshop.

My growth as a hobbyist has evolved rather quickly over the last couple of years since I joined the ranks of table top war gamers. When I first got into Warhammer 40000 I was excited in the social aspects of gaming, namely hanging out with good friends and playing a quick round of a seemingly interesting game. However, after I got into the story of the universe, the game itself fell flat and I find it mostly boring and irrelevant now. The rules are a lumbering relic of an uninterested miniatures company. I was drawn towards representing the universe as best as I could through my hobby skills.

I delved headfirst into all the lore: codices, black library, and imperial armour. I used my art background and desire as a storyteller to represent the world that Games Workshop had created. The social aspect of the game, for me, became growing as an artist with my friends and watching the fruits of my labor play on the table to my friend’s enjoyment.

As my knowledge of Warhammer grew, the more errors I noticed between all facets of Games Workshops creative outlets. Games Workshop, Black Library, and Forgeworld are all the same company but there seems to be no one single person in charge of the creative direction of the brand image and lore. Each department is running amuck and largely doing whatever they please.

When you go through all the lore created by GW, the power and badassery of the Adeptus Astartes Space Marines stands above everything else. Space Marines are the redoubt of mankind’s struggle to survive. They are legends amongst mortal men.  The entirety of the Horus Heresy centers around their struggles. Brother against brother, dividing the golden age of mankind. The heroism of the Space Marines is recorded in virtually every single book written by anyone who even dabbles in Warhammer 40000.

But, then you get to the game they are vaginas.

My mission was clear: I want to properly represent them on the tabletop. If not by rules (which can be changed with a White Dwarf issue 300 or Inquisitor ruleset), then by models. They were going to look the part at the very least.


As I pointed out in my last article Heroic Scale is Dead, Games Workshop! I want accurately scaled figures and I don’t want any lazy corporate bullshit. Unfortunately, Games Workshop, like it’s gaming ruleset, is a lumbering beast that is apathetic to positive change in the face of increasing fan disdain and more capable competition. That leaves the task up to us, the basement dwelling noble gaming community, to fend for ourselves in the search for an accurately scaled Space Marine!

Space Marines clock in at 7-8ft tall. They are huge sons of bitches the Emprah. Check the scale:

The first image is some true scale cosplay guys on what i can only assume are painter’s stilts.  The middle image shows a young Jes Goodwin sitting proudly in front of his poor counting ability exampling a life size 7ft tall space marine (I know it says 8 on the scale, but check out his starting number… WTH?). The last image (courtesy of Angels of Death) shows a human amidst the massive men and machines of the Adeptus Astartes. We will work that under the assumption, since Space Marines are not clones that they can average anywhere between 7 and 8ft tall for the purposes of our mission. With very FEW being on the 8ft. side. Terminators should be the only thing setting these guys above the 8ft. mark.

Marines are meant to be big and the existing range doesn’t do them any justice.

The Case for Change

Games Workshop vs. True Scale WWII Figure

Games Workshop Plastic Space Marine and Plastic Cadian vs. True Scale World War II historical miniature.

To solidify my point we will look at the existing miniatures range. Why is the scale for space marines critical and why do people generally true scale them instead of other figures?

The first thing Jes Goodwin throws out about “true scaling” marines is that it is actually the human guard who are out of scale. Ok. That might be true.

Let’s take a look. The image above shows a Games Workshop space marine and imperial guard pieces to the left and center of the image, respectively. The right figure in the image is an accurately scaled human in miniature. This figure on the right is how the guard should look if they used proper human proportions in the 28mm scale. So, yes the guard is out of scale, but the marine still looks miserable next to our sexy human being figure. These wonky proportions, as a pointed out in the last article, are hold overs from the 80s/90s heroic scale. The designs are piss poor laziness on the part of Games Workshop for keeping it the same today. Grim dark my ass. This is just cartoon crap.

Re-crafting a Games Workshop guardsman to look like that human is not just impossible, it means playing another range of miniatures to accurately represent human beings. We would STILL need to scale up the marines to boot. Not only are we out of scale, we are out of the universe and we destroy the level of immersion in the setting during play, nor can scale enthusiasts participate in sanctioned Games Workshop events or tournaments.

Death Korps vs. Cadian

Forge World Resin Death Korps of Krieg vs. Games Workshop Plastic Cadian Guardsman

Rather than change the guardsman, the guardsmen must become the baseline for our true scale efforts, unfortunately. My recommendation to fight this gigantism is to look at Forge World Imperial Guard armies. If you can spring for them, not only are they more in scale with human proportions, they are a more flavorful match to the Warhammer setting than the standard plastic Cadians.

Poor anatomy of a Space MarineNow that the guard argument is out of the way we can look critically at the Space Marine itself and determine why scaling is so important for this particular miniature. In short, the anatomy of this situation is a mess. More so than almost any other miniature in the range. We are not just correcting a scale issue, we are correcting an anatomy issue; an issue more noticeable on Space Marines than the rest of the figures anyway.

The illustration shows how a human being would fit into a suit of power armor using the scale of the game pieces. There is no space for a torso. Most people need one of those. But, even in this picture the legs are more or less proper, but the actual miniatures are not this fortunate.

6th Edition Space Marine Tactical Squad

Games Workshop Plastic 6th Edition Space Marines Tactical Squad Kit

To the right is the most recent squandered opportunity to correct this mistake: the 6th edition release of the basic space marine tactical squad. The best selling Games Workshop model kit. This set has improved upon a lot of issues from the previous, decade old marine kit.  As you can see the legs are just awful. Many of the marines are still stuck in squatting positions like they need a toilet. There are still huge chests with no torsos, and the stubby legs are not fixed(the marine on the end left, bottom row makes the leg problem stand out). The issues are still present despite one or two more upright figures. The anatomy of this is still a mess, but now it’s a finely detailed mess!

Games Workshop screwed the opportunity to fix the scale with one fell swoop when they released the tactical box outlined above. They could have laid the foundation to take the entire range into the 21st century with their best selling kit. They’ve guaranteed at least another ten years of off scaled madness, solidifying their position in the land of disregarded human anatomy.

Now that we’ve established why we need to true scale the space marines, we will look at charting our course to develop this idea in Part 2.

Heroic Scale is Dead, Games Workshop – A Prologue

Games Workshop,

I have some terrible news. In approximately 2010, heroic scale died due to being old and out of date. It was arguably in a catatonic state for at least five years previous. Unfortunately, very few people will miss it.

Despite this tragic news for the gaming community, you should feel a relief because you are the foremost maker of miniatures in the world. You pride yourself on creating the best! Right?


Wait. This all looks like cartoonish, disney garbage. How did you guys get caught so far behind your own story? You’ve created this really gothic, self coined “grim dark” world and yet your miniatures are garish caricatures and shadows of your own property. Do you even know what happened?

Let me see if i can pin this down for you.

Creative Apathy

Foremost, Games Workshop seems to be stuck in the 80s and 90s mentality about wargaming. From what I understand the key people in the company are the same hold overs from their earliest days and simply don’t know or don’t care about doing things differently. This mentality breeds creative apathy amongst any up and coming veterans or new blood the company brings in. This seems to be the biggest problem, whether that is self inflicted or a higher up, executive ordained apathy, i’m not sure (if it was higher up, you would have to wonder why they don’t trust the people who helped create this field to do their jobs, which makes me think creative is the problem). Essentially, the system is tightly controlled by a few individuals creating the same old garbage, and breeding apathy amongst those with fresh ideas.

Product Inconsistency

Rogue Trader Marines

The original Space Marines from Rogue Trader. Marines back then aren’t what they are today. The original story of the space marines is more akin to that of Starcraft. Violent prisoners put inside robotic suits to fight the big uglies of the universe rather than be incarcerated. Its fun to shoot stuff and life has no consequences. Lets head bang while loud music plays. Standard 80s mentality.

Accurate marine

Now we have the Adeptus Astartes. 7 – 8ft tall, genetically and technologically modified killing machines that are meant to be the foremost warriors of the galaxy. Named after a dead pagan goddess, the Astartes are ball stompers, legends, and heroes. Not everything is wonderful and original with this story, but it certainly has more depth and gravity than the old days.

Black Library and Forgeworld have all evolved past the old days in their stories. The gaming community have mostly accepted that the Adeptus Astartes is where the story is at now. The Horus Heresy storyline (which has gone on longer than the actual F$&#ing heresy – another dumb issue to be addressed) has cemented them into the lore. The IP has largely, not entirely, grown past most of the old 80s sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll tropes. But there is still one lingering dingleberry of that old mentality still hanging around: the models.

Forgeworld, in all models EXCEPT Adeptus Astartes, have an extremely detailed and incredible range of miniatures. But, in order to match Games Workshops lazy and outdated space marines they are forced to make midget astartes.

Games Workshop refreshed their tactical squads for the most recent 6th and 7th edition versions of their largely popular Warhammer 40000 table top game. Taking all the new story into account, all the wonderful new developments in mould making technology, and using their self proclaimed position as the foremost creator of gaming miniatures in the world, they created:

6th Edition Tactical Squad

The same damn marines from first edition with slightly more details!

The same diminutive stature. The same stubby legs, the same poorly proportioned bodies.

the. same. tired. garbage.

Any time Games Workshop is approached or asked about the marines scale they have a laundry list of excuses as to why things are the way they are:

  • Imperial Guard are actually the wrong scale (anatomy failure on all fronts, both guard and marine)
  • Heroic scale allows you to see the weapons better (If you true scaled the figures the guns would be the same size they are currently)
  • Game/ rules related “reasons” (I thought Games Workshop was a miniature company?)


Getting marines right isn’t difficult. The illustration above demonstrates the exact idea behind the marine/ human relationship in scale no less. Forge world could produce a simple leg and torso kit as a stop gap measure while GW gets its act together. The parts from the plastic kit could be used to fill in everything else. From games workshop’s perspective this is a temporary win win. Two products sold to create one and it also fulfills a community need with minimal effort for right now.

Marines aren’t the only problem though. Every miniature in 40K is “broken.” Why can’t this be fixed? Why can’t the story and the product be consistent?

The Future

Even from the outside, fixing the issues within Games Workshop seems like a monumental task. Without being there and watching the process I can’t make a 100% accurate determination. If we go with the creative apathy situation my natural instinct is to simply fire everyone. Yes, including Jes Goodwin and Jervis pennybottom. I would include everyone in the licensing department is well.

Games Workshop needs to take ownership of their problems. Their corporate culture is too much. They need to open up and engage the community. They need to control the message and not let rumor mongers be the harbingers of their terrible actions. The community is left to their own devices and by not being decisive, not having a plan for the future, leaves them fractured and argumentative.

GW needs to start from scratch with a few things:

  • Making money needs to be a by-product of producing quality. Not something the company feels it is owed simply for existing.
  • Acknowledging that the game is just as important as the miniatures.
  • There needs to be an official canon. The lore needs to build from the existing novels. All the product lines must be set straight. Everything that doesn’t fit needs to be rejected.
  • Licensing needs to look for quality outlets, not handing it out to every swinging dick that walks by. Not only with profit in mind, but understanding that this will be mass exposure of the IP to those who have never encountered Warhammer before.
  • Massive licensing expansion to other forms of media and collectibles.
  • Actively seek to develop new, unique IPs.

With these mission objectives in mind, the core of the company needs revision first and brought into line with those goals. The core, for now, is miniatures and gaming. The cornerstone of the business needs to be fixed before a house is to be built, to reestablish the credibility of the company in the eye of the fans, who, in turn, spread the word and excitement.

  • “8th Edition” will be a ground up reboot, across the entire IP. The basis of the game is that it has three modes of play: squad based, company (or “Army”) based, and Apocalypse. All modes of play are similar at the core, but the rules and model count build as you go up. The game feels like it “unlocks” as your collection grows. A box or two of figures should unlock the first mode of squad based gameplay.
  • Rules for all factions will be developed (not released), at the core, simultaneously to develop internal balance from the start. Not finished, just a framework developed throughout every stage.
  • All miniatures past and present are legal, but future miniatures will now focus on scaling and story accuracy to both complement the game and collecting.
  • All marine models will be standardized with chapter specific add ons produced separately.
  • Forge world creative principles adopted.
  • Limited releases greatly reduced, allocated to those that make sense.
  • All communication channels will be opened.

Retail Strategy

The retail arm of Games Workshop is probably their biggest detriment. These places, once ambassadors of the brand to the public, have become tiny and cramped, miserable excuses for gaming centers. Little more than a bath and body works stuffed to the brim with GW product. Most are smaller.

These stores have little to no space for playing games, so fans can’t really come in and form a local community to support each other. The stores are single man shops, so there is no time to sell, teach, and promote the brand, making the store almost 100% non-functional in its primary mission for being a branded store.

Retail needs to be left to those who want to be in retail. Make a product people want and it will sell itself, no propaganda needed. The money saved in retail could be put towards marketing, promotions, prize allotment, and tournament support for these third party run stores.

Third party stores also have the benefit of having other products, so the trickle over effect can aide GW products in the long run. Fantasy flight role playing game? Buy some miniatures to enhance your experience. Buying a miniature magazine, pick up a white dwarf. Hobbyist? Check out this entire range of citadel paints and tools! Does the shop also sell comics? Warhammer might be something that they’ve never even heard of, and they don’t even know it exists yet. Recommendations can be made, and exposure to GWs worlds is happening everyday whether you want it too or not in that third party shop. A GW branded store people generally know what they are getting into and there is no chance for new growth. You just hope for organic growth, which is already tapped.

The Present

Where does that leave Games Workshop? Nowhere, really. They keep cutting tools for extremely detailed, but poorly thought out miniatures. There seems to be no chance for change on any front. The only path to change is for someone to grow a pair of brass balls in that company and shake up this industry.

Update: This has spurred me to take action in a very limited away. You can read my further adventures in Space Marine True Scaling here:

True Scale Space Marines – Part 1 – A Survey