castpixel's space marine build (Warhammer 40K)


New Member
Hi all!

Long time lurker, first time poster. I've been obsessing over making a foamie Space Marine for more than a month.
After 4 weeks of research, I'm feeling ready.

My main inspiration is this exquisite "art-scale" miniature sculpted by Lamenter and painted by Volomir .


I love everything about it. The mark VIII armour, the paintjob, the stance, the proportions.

For my marine I want a silver Deathwatch arm with a power fist and a working motorized chainsword with soft foam blades. My one concession that isn't solidly grounded in W40k imagery is a proper sculpted eagle standard, on the backpack. In warhammer 40k miniatures, the aquila (eagle) standards are usually flat sculptures. I wanted mine to be more life-like and hopefully more majestic, with its wing span.

I'm staying in the Imperial Fists chapter and keeping the veteran sergeant helmet. The melee weapons also suggest vanguard. So my build is an Imperial Fists Vanguard Veteran Sergeant.

My goal is this hack-job collage:


I'm of course using pilerud's priceless Space Marine build guide and the 3D files from obscurus crusade(JF's custom foam files ) with a few deviations:

1. I'm going for proportions closer to artscale, which is what Lamenter calls his converted miniatures that are between "truescale" size and mini size. The proportions of the recent Primaris space marines are also an inspiration.

2. I'm only adding 12cm to my height, so the final height is going to be 1.84 . I want to avoid my arms t-rexing, and the miniatures are kind of squat anyway. I'm hoping I will be plenty imposing, especially with the eagle standard on my back

3.I used my paltry 3D knowledge to model a new helmet, based on crealinkarts' blueprints which are in turn very faithfully based on official miniatures. I'm going for the variant helmet without the cables. The helmet unfolds into 3 pieces, using Evil Ted
's technique, to minimize seams.

helmet sculpt.png

4. I messed with the proportions, re-scaling and remodeling the default .obj files, so that I fit inside the armor. Here's an early 3D render

fit.png first render.png

5. My powerfist is going to be linkage-operated instead of string-operated. I have the main mechanism done, here's a finger:


6. I'm going for a female space marine, her name is Theodora Invicta, named after a Byzantine saint (since Imperial Fists have Terran names), has been seconded to the Deathwatch for a decade and misses her kill-team. (And it's not even heresy, the geneseed needs a Y chromosome, and I'm a trans woman. Y chromosome: check. Though I wish they would just allow female space marines already. Even one of the lost Chapters, come on, the Y chromosome thing is inexcusably bad science anyway, and the setting has always been half-serious.)

I'm waiting for the foam to arrive to start crafting!

Tell me what you think and wish me luck <3



helmet sculpt.png


first render.png

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Sr Member
cool, good luck with the build. I like the idea of having the shield not seen that before.


New Member
Thanks everyone! I'm still waiting for the foam to arrive. In the meantime I'm dealing with proportions and geometry. I don't much care for 3-meter tall marines, I'm going for width more than height, and the miniatures are very expressive and larger than life. Very few parallel lnes, which makes the models look good from any angle. So I remade the backpack from scratch with foam and accuracy in mind. Mine is on the left


backpack mini.png
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Sr Member
be worth making a back pack from cardboard that way you can scale it down then use the pieces as a template (saves your foam)


New Member
So after a ton of time and a few failed efforts, I'm finally making headway into the helmet.

I tweaked my 3D model a lot, and unfolded it in pepakura and then adobe illustrator for cleaning up and editing:

pepakura.pngspace marine helmet illustrator.jpg

This helmet build is critically dependent on the foam being 1cm thick. I'm taking 1cm thickness as a given throughout.
I'm also making it super snug on my head. Since I'm not going to be adding a lot to my height, I still want the head to feel small.

So the paper prototype went well:

My 7 EVA foam yoga mats arrived. It's proper EVA closed-cell foam, but it's less stiff than foam floor tiles. Still, it's smooth on both sides which is great for my needs, and it's stiff enough to both be sanded and retain its shape. If you live in Greece, ask me where I sourced it, it was super cheap.

Cutting, contact cement and heatgun got me this (helmet plus mask).
IMG_20170816_155106.jpg IMG_20170925_154354.jpg

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For the side vents, I went with three pieces. I cut notches on the inside of the foam in the places where I wanted a sharp corner:
IMG_20170929_031602.jpgIMG_20170929_032100.jpg IMG_20170929_032115.jpg

This is the progress so far:


Feel free to ask me anything, and also ask for any of the files.
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New Member
Thank you @ShackMan.

I made the breather grille. I wanted to go for an industrial but also hand-forged look. Not mass-produced in any case.
So I found this amazing reference (even though it has the wrong number of teeth):


To replicate it, I used 21 lengths of aluminum wire arranged in parallel and sandwiched between two pieces of craft foam using contact cement:

<- this is the paper template for arranging the pieces of wire. It was slow, meticulous work. The technique mirrors what a forged piece might look like.


and here it is behind a grille cut from styrene ( with my knife, by hand ), primed three times and hit with a 1000 grit wet sandpaper between primer coats:


Here's the primered grille coated with a tiny amount of rub n' buff and then rubbed with the palm of my hand according to this technique. The result is an incredible dull aluminum, especially in daylight:

And here's a dry fit inside the helmet.


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New Member
The construction of the helmet is almost done.

For the cheek vents, I decided to use two pieces of a grille I found on an old machine. You simply can't beat 80s bakelite for design and rigidness.


I backed it up with some black 3mm craft foam.

And then with a larger piece of foam, to give it some depth. My design philosophy for this armor is to make things as modular as possible. Like the rebreather mask, those vents would be modular and removable, so the filters can be cleaned during maintenance.

Of course they don't need to actually be removable, just to look that way. I went ahead and glued them in place, using some general purpose glue. This gave me some wiggle room to position them correctly using a pair of eyebrow pliers.


Here is the almost finished helmet. next to my pepakura 3D model. It turned out spot on! I had to insert one thickness of foam (1cm) between the bridge of the nose and the crest of the helmet. It gave the canopy a better curve. I also mocked up the eye lenses with some paper, and sanded down irregular areas in the foam.

unnamed.jpg pepakura.png


New Member
Progress update:

The helmet construction is done. I sealed it with a white acrylic sealant ( the Kwik Seal alternative I found here in Greece is a product called Duroflex PU by Durostick ) and three layers of Mod-Podge. It's sturdy and ready to flexi-dip and then prime.


My next step, while I'm planning how to build the chest armor, was to build a grimoire-type book. Space marines don't own a lot of possessions, being a more or less monastic order, but books are very valuable in the WH40k universe (they confer bonuses during gameplay), usually carried by Librarians like this:


I decided my space marine has a book she values highly, and keeps it with her at all times. I also decided to learn a bit about medieval book binding ^-^'

So I started out with a box made out of EVA foam:

00 box.jpg

03 box.jpg
Then I illustrated a battle scene of space marines versus Tyranids in a medieval manuscript style (i.e. as if the artist has never seen a real animal in her life). This will serve as an edge painting. A book this valuable should be a labor of love for the scribe that crafted it.

03b edge painting.jpg

I printed it on a xerox printer and transferred to thin craft foam using the acetone-and-buff method.
04 edge painting.jpg
I filled in the missing lines using a black pen, since my transfer wasn't very good.

Then I carved some lines on the foam, to make it look like the pages on the side of a book:

07 edge painting.jpg

I glued the foam strip around my box, and added a striped headband:

08 edge painting.jpg

I researched book-binding some more. Short version:

07a book binding.jpg

Prop-making to me is like illustration: it's an illusion. You need to give the viewer enough visual cues to convince her a prop or a drawing is a something it's not So, a headband is something you instantly associate with old books, it's a cue that adds to the illusion. The edge painting on the side of a book is, conversely, a risky choice, since people expect books to have plain white sides. It's a balance, and the positive cues need to outweigh the negative ones.

I made my striped headband out of some foam:
07b headband.png

Next, the book spine. This used to be made out of pieces of rope, on which the pages of the book ("signatures") were sewn. I decided to go for rope too, for authenticity.

09 spine.jpg

I then secured the rope with a piece of paper towelette and a lot of mod podge. This also gives helps shape the book spine into a more recognizable "old book" form:

010 spine.jpg

I made two book covers by gluing cardstock to 1cm thick eva foam, and bore holes for the spine rope at an angle, using my dremel:

010 cover.jpg

I then poked the spines through those holes, frayed the edges and glued them onto the cover. Book basically done! Then I covered the spine and covers in craft foam which will be my fake leather, and used some decorative paper to hide the seams ("end paper", in traditional book-binding).

011 spine.jpg012 spine.jpg



New Member
Book prop continued:

I want the book to be highly ornate, so I took inspiration from this excellent (and canon-looking) Inquisition ring

cover 00.jpg

and created a faceplate in illustrator, in two layers (these are the A4 size pages ready to print). This is the Inquisition logo in the WH40k universe, and the fake latin text ("High Gothic") is the "Litany of Xenomortis", a fanatical anti-alien semi-religious manifesto. This iconography is important to the Deathwatch, which my space marine is meant to have spent a few years in.

cover 01.jpg cover02.jpg

I patiently cut those out of cardstock with my box cutter and assembled everything:


I also carved the skull out of eva foam! My years in art University weren't in vain:


I stuck the skull in place using some more sealant:



I used 3 or 4 thick layers of mod podge at this stage. I wanted the sharpness of the letters to melt into the plate, to create the illusion of a carved metal plate.

Then three coats of primer, with 320 and 1000-grit wet sandpaper in between coats, and finally a coat of glossy black. Everything is out of a spray-can as I don't have an airbrush. Works well enough.

cover08.jpg cover09.jpg

Then some rub and buff, and really really hard buffing using the palm of my hand.
I touched up here and there using a Molotow liquid chrome marker, but the metal effect is 100% rub n buff. I love this stuff!

Here's the current state of the book, including the metal plate. Not done yet, I've yet to finish the ornamentation to the spine and the corner protectors, but I'm very happy with the result. I added one actual page to the book, to complete the illusion, and transferred a symbol from an old Warhammer book using the mod podge transfer technique.



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New Member
Thank you @equib!

Book done!

I made the metal accessories using craft foam, sealing with mod-podge and priming and painting. First black acrylic spray, then rub and buff.


I painted the edge-painting with acrylics on the white craft foam, aged it, and finally emphasized the outlines with a black pen, since the colors generally fade faster than the ink on real manuscripts too.



In the meantime I also painted the whole craft foam book cover with a uniform dark brown acrylic mixed with some latex, to get a base color on which to paint "leather" on.


I made a braid out of thin craft foam, painted it to look like leather with brown, black and umber acrylic colors mixed with latex, then sealed with mod podge to give it shine. This will go on the book spine to give it a little more realism (i.e. to trick the eye that the prop really is an old leather bound book)


After some more ageing, and sealing the craft foam with mod podge, the book is done:


end leather.jpg

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Next up: a working 1.35 meter-long chainsword. Just laying it out on the floor made me go "what the hell have I gotten into?". But I know I can do it.
I'm going to use a 12volt M20 high-torque toy motor, toy car wheels, an old synthetic schoolbag strap as the belt "chain", and probably upholstery foam teeth to keep everything light. I disassembled an old walking crutch to make the metal backbone. I may have to drill a lot more holes into it to keep it super light, because I'll have to haul the thing around with my non-superhuman strength..

Here's my schematic and my floorplan...

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New Member
Chainsword update!

Rubber 6cm wheels (from a robotics store) and a 12volt high torque motor fixed to the chassis (which, again, is a super-light, super sturdy aluminum rod from a walking crutch).


I decided to reinforce the foam with 0.5cm black foamboard, the kind that's used for building maquettes of buildings. It lends rigidity to the dense but flexible foam.


The belt for the teeth runs great. I first tried a 9v battery for a proof of concept. It runs, albeit slowly. At 12volts however, the motor runs at twice the speed, it looks (and sounds) scary. The whole thing weighs less than two kilos, but since most of the weight is in front of the hilt, it's unwieldy because of the imbalance. Seriously, holding the chainsword from the middle is like holding up a light book. Holding it from the hilt though, has so much torque that it hurts my wrist within seconds. For the first time I understand why fantasy writers keep referring to swords as "well-balanced".

Thankfully, I already planned for that. Adding the 8 AA batteries and some more heavy decoration to the hilt is going to fix that, making it comfortable to hold. Plus it will give me 12 volts to power the motor at full RPM.

I'm building this lock and chain which I stole from a great Sister of Battle miniature.


So the chainsword is mostly empty inside, to make room for the chain teeth. However the area inside the chainsaw belt is packed full of foam hugging the aluminum rod tight. Three long metal bolted nuts will hold the aluminum/foam/foamcore sandwich together ( the chainsword thickness is 10cm, so I just bought a long bolted rod and cut three pieces to size ).


Here's a test fit of the engine chassis, and the beginnings of the hilt that will contain the batteries.

I also started - and finished- the neckseal for the chest armor! It was an easy 3-day build! I wanted a high-tech gorget that reaches up to the ears. Contrary to the rather loose (and hardly visible) neckseal from the miniatures, I wanted to play up this more sci-fi note to an otherwise mostly medieval-style armor.

After weighing the pros and cons of making a proper rubber cast, I decided I'd make it out of thin craft foam and just cover it with latex! The result is damn respectable, in my opinion!


So here's how it went:

Step 1: I asked my girlfriend to wrap my neck with aluminum foil and and cover that with one layer of duck tape. I tucked my hair in a towel. We were super giddy and hence this pic of me looking like a happy aunt at a hair salon :D


Step 2: Slice it off and reassemble, taking care to make registration points at the seams with a marker.


Step 3: This is one half of the neckseal, flattened out into 2D patterns.


Step 4: trace and cut out of 2mm craft foam

Step 5: assemble with contact cement, shape it a bit with a heatgun and attempt to look badass in it.


Step 6: Retouching the seams with the elastic sealant paste (kwik-seal alternative) and pinning stripes of craftfoam and then gluing them on with contact cement. Also, adding a strip of velcro at the back, using contact cement, so I can take it on and off easily. The back will not be visible so anything goes.


Step 7: I painted it using a crappy brush and a 2:1 latex : black acrylic paint mix. Three coats later, I had a pristine rubber neckseal. Initially, I wanted the brushstrokes to show. However they were a little too prominent, so I ended up watering down my latex mixture and slathering it all over, for a smoother finish. Then I sealed the paint job with some Pledge clear floor care ( called Pronto in Greece btw) applied with a brush. It's basically an acrylic lacquer, highly recommended by some model-makers and cosplayers.


Step 8: some weathering to tone it down. I painted all of the ribbed edges with a thin line of Eshin Gray (Games Workshop) and then dirtied it up a bit with some grime and dust ( just a sand-colored acrylic wash that I applied in the nooks and crannies of the ribs and immediately wiped off with a wet towel )


My initial plan was to line the neckseal with some heavy fabric on the inside, to provide stability, but amazingly this craft foam build feels super sturdy. It even supports my head, if I let go.

Might be worth looking into for batman cowls and such?

Anyway that's it for now, thanks for staying with me <3
I feel ready to tackle the armor next!
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New Member
Found the time to sneak these build photos. All the foam fabrication is complete!

And I have 21 days to paint and weather it.

So here's the torso, thighs and helmet. This armor is really huge, even without the 10cm high boots.
full body1.jpg

So the left pauldron (shoulder guards) is supposed to be silver, with deep engraved letters. Like this:

Here's my result.

For this I utilized my cutter (a Silhouette Cameo 3) to perfectly cut letters I designed as paths in Illustrator from 3mm craft foam. I decided to stack 2 of each, for more depth, but even then it was relatively hassle-free. I then slathered mod podge tinted with black acrylic everywhere, to smooth out the imperfections.

An aside here, for narrative purposes (since costumes are supposed to tell a story). I dislike english words on armor (what Warhammer 40K calls "low Gothic"), since these are supposed to be highly mystical pieces of armor, so I went with pseudo-latin (what warhammer 40K calls "High Gothic")

The text inscribed on these Death Watch pauldrons is "the litany of Xenomortis", a text that isn't defined in canon, but is clearly a xenophobic, fanatical and self-righteous piece of "holy" propaganda. The words I chose are

PUR (itas)
HONO (ris)
RIFT (the cursed place where aliens come from)

Warhammer 40K lore has always been a text on dystopia and a full-on ridicule of fascism (like a lot of content coming out of the UK in the 80s - Judge Dredd as well). So even though space marines are the closest you get to "heroes" in-universe, they're still indoctrinated and disturbingly and single-mindedly fascist. Cosplaying as Judges from Judge Dredd or Stormtroopers, or Space Marines, for me, should be outright scary because of all the bloodlust and nazi undertones. I want this facet to really really show. Alright moving on.

Here's some work on the backpack.

The spherical jet stabilizers were cut using Evil Ted's dome pattern (Thank you <3)
Then some drinking straws and a plastic cup were hot glued in place and weathered to look like a rusty and charred jet exhaust


Some work on the powerfist: The fingers were designed to move using linkages, inspired by the amazing @AlphaTech686's Grommash Build . I designed the paths in Illustrator and cut them out of 3mm styrene using a handmade hot wire cutter from Nicr wire, a switch, a USB cable and hot glue. Feels like a lightsaber.

linkage finger robotic2.png IMG_20180301_173852_HHT.jpg

After cutting, I assembled the fingers with screws and bolts, but not before covering them with plumber's silver tape. They'll be covered up with black acrylic so I didn't have to do a neat job.

IMG_20180221_152033.jpgView attachment 806274

For the finger covers I just went with 3mm foamcore. Easy to cut with my boxcutter, and after reinforcing the joints with hotglue and washers, plus 3 layers of black-tinted mod-podge, they're super sturdy.

The finger covers aren't under any mechanical stress, they just follow the movement of the fingers and bulk up the hand. I paid multiple visits to the specialist nuts and bolts store, and decided to organize the screws for easy disassembly. They're complex parts, but move suprisingly well.

The midriff is camping mat foam covered in latex mixed with black acrylic paint and thinned with water, so I can paint it on with a soft brush. Then I dusted with talcum powder. It's not just realistic rubber, it's actually real rubber, wheee.


I'm sorry I'm taking so long between updates. This will be done soon.














linkage finger robotic2.png





full body1.jpg





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New Member
I managed to mess up my attachments on the previous post, so I'm posting again.

Here's the backpack


The powerfist mechanism:

Here are the pauldron progress pics


And here are the teeth of the chainsword, again cut out of 3mm craft foam and painstakingly glued together using contact adhesive. The blades and the conveyor belt I glued them onto weigh a total of 100grams. The high-torque motor moves impressively fast with it attached! Working chainsword achieved!


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