True Scale Space Marines Tutorial

So, how exactly do you make True Scale Space Marines? Here’s a handy tutorial:

In the end, you’ll have turned a 10 part model into a 40 part model. Sound like fun?

My two primary demonstration models will be this Apothecary here:

converted tall true scale space marine apothecary

And the Section Leader

tall true scale space marine with boltgun

Step 1: Preparing the models

Well, the first thing that needs to be done is to decide what you want to do with the model. In the case of the Apothecary, I liked the posture of his legs, so I was only going to be extending them, rather than a full rebuild. In the case of the section leader, I was using the old “squatting” legs from the old Tactical Squad kit, and wanted to do a fully new pose with him. This meant cutting the feet free of the model.

With these projects, I’ll typically work in batches. You’ll need to allow time for all the components to dry and set once you’ve glued them anyway, so doing them in groups of 4-5 may cut your downtime significantly. You can see with the ones below, I’ve removed their feet. The difference in the poses you can achieve can be dramatic since the foot will no longer be anchored to the leg in a static position.

batches of Space Marine legs and torsos being cut apart and reassembled for True Scale Space Marine conversion

However, if you’re using specialized legs, or if you’re simply happy with the pose the legs are currently in, you can leave them alone. In the case of the Apothecary, his legs came from the Death Company kit, and I was happy with the way they were standing. So I moved on to the next step, which was inserting plastic card spacers.

I use 1mm thick card on the legs. One in the shin, one at the hip. If you’re keeping the pose, you might want to do a mid-thigh cut, but I’ve found I like the waist cut better. It gives a lot more options later.

cutting Space Marine legs into pieces to insert plastic styrene card for True Scale Space Marines

For the torsos, I use 1.5mm thick plastic card, cutting it into strips to line the outside of the torso “ring”.  Cut/file the outside edge smooth, then, using a rounded-tip hobby blade, scrape the inner side into a rounded shape. Adding another small square inside (or some putty) will allow more contact points for gluing the torso to the legs later.

This will add length to the torso. Now, I add a lot of gear to my Space Marines because aesthetically I like them that way. If you aren’t going to be adding pouches and grenades, you will need to invest in some Green Stuff to model out their belt lines.

Step 2: Re-assembly.

Carefully, using hobby snips or a hobby blade, cut the excess down around the legs. Then, even more carefully, use the blade to trim it as close to the contour of the leg as possible. Once this is done, you can file it smooth if necessary.

Once you’ve shaved down the plastic inserts, you’ll want to use either Green Stuff or Liquid Green Stuff to fill the gaps.

partial assembly of True Scale Space Marine

Now to prepare the pose. What are your True Scale Marines doing? Are they aiming? Patroling? For the Apothecary, I wanted him to be holding his gun at the “alert”, which means with the muzzle pointing slightly downward, but ready to be brought up for firing. I felt this gave a certain “attitude” to the model. So how do we accomplish this with the lackluster arms provided in most Space Marine kits? With a knife of course.

Any time you’re posing a Space Marine (or any model for that matter), you want to be considering range of movement. At the very least, try the pose yourself. If you can’t do it comfortably, why would the Space Marine? If you’re trying to impart a swinging motion with a melee weapon for example, try a couple swings while watching yourself in the mirror. Make sure you know how that weapon is used in real life too. You swing a top-heavy weapon like an axe or a hammer much differently than you swing a sword which is balanced closer to the grip.

My Apothecary looks like this:

true scale space marine apothecary conversion

So, how do we get there?

Sorry I didn’t take any in-progress pictures of the arms. That was an oversight I’ll correct in the future. For now, I’ll get as good of shots as we can for it. Fortunately I couldn’t find my small drill bit for the barrel so the boltgun isn’t glued in place yet.

Here’s a basic diagram of the arm cuts.


First, we’re going to clip the arm just below the “under shoulder” that the shoulder pad attaches to. Once this is done, we can rotate the arm to do whatever we want, from an aiming pose, to the “alert” pose. This cut is fundamental to pretty much all the Space Marines I do, and is the base of posing. Think about your own body. Almost all of the directions you can move your arm start at the shoulder.

shoulder cut

Second we’re going to clip the wrist and flip it around so that the wrist soft armor is sloping up, instead of down. Sounds confusing, but an upward slope will obviously give us a downward angled hand.

firing wrist

Now, since we’ve fundamentally altered the way the right hand sits, the left hand isn’t going to sit flush on the bolter. So it needs to be cut free and rotated. You can see this best on the Section Leader:

tall true scale space marine with cerceus pattern boltgun and pugio

The Apothecary doesn’t make a great example because I had to cut the whole forearm off that model to replace it with the Narthecium anyway.  Here it is on another model, and you can see the far more drastic angle that the cuts achieved.

Converted Space Marine with cuts shown

And there you go. You’ve now made a 30-40 part model:

  • Legs – 11 parts
  • Torso – 6-7 parts
  • Arms – 2-5 parts each
  • Head
  • Pack
  • Weapon (my Cerceus Pattern Bolters are 3 parts, but you don’t have to go that crazy)
  • Gear (I use anywhere from 10-14 accessory parts per model)

True Scale Space Marines conversion parts label.

True scale Space Marines size comparison by post and leg construction

So, do the new proportions work?  Let’s ask Leonardo Da Vinci:

The Virtuvian Space Marine


Where do they stand next to other models in the Games Workshop range?

Next to some of my Eldar Corsairs here:

eldar corsairs conversions compared to tall True Scale Space Marine

With a Steel Legion Ogryn here:

Steel Legion orgyn and True Scale Space Marine

With a Tau Fire Warrior pulse rifle conversion and one of my Ork conversions. Though the Ork has been converted to be taller than the usual GW model. You can check out my article on Ork Boy Conversions if you’re interested on the details of that project.

converted ork boy and Tau Fire Warrior models next to True Scale Space Marine for scale

True Scale Deathwatch Marines and orks conversions

Alongside Genestealer Cult conversions of Neophyte Hybrids from the Deathwatch Overkill game





Questions? Comments? Leave one below!

Following my page on Facebook is a good way to keep up on the zany conversion projects I’m working on.

Related Posts:

Space Marine Conversions

Space Marine Weapon Conversions

How Tall are Space Marines?


6 thoughts on “True Scale Space Marines Tutorial

  1. Awesome! Have you ever tried using green stuff instead of plasticard? Do you think it would work as well or is plasticard better in the end? I was thinking of using green stuff and a ruler to get the measurements right. I want to true scale my marines and I have a lot of left over green stuff and I’m not sure whether I want to go through the effort of finding some cheap decent plasticard (and not have so much left over). Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, green stuff will always be needed to fill in the small gaps and smooth out the imperfections that might result from the process, but ultimately, for the technique I use, plastic card is both easier, and precise. So I guess the answer is “Yes, but both”.

      Honestly, plastic card is so cheap compared to the cost of everything else in the hobby (models, paint, files, sculpting tools), even if you have any left, it isn’t much of a loss. I’m literally still going through the very first packages of 6×10 (ish?) sheets I bought several years ago, 50 or so Marines into the project. And I got mine at the local model/RC/drone hobby shop. I think you’d lose more time trying to exactingly measure out green stuff than you would just using card. That’s why for True Scale Space Marines, you either see versions using Terminator legs, or you’ll see ones like mine which use card to elongate the regular kit power armor Space Marines. Simplicity and consistency. I just cut the legs, glue card, cut, file, smooth, and then I know that I have added 1mm to that section. The torso has a 1.5mm ring, and I know it’s the same length immediately.

      Nothing says you shouldn’t try using green stuff, but I’d guess that doing it over and over would be exhausting. Not that using card isn’t, I guess. True Scaling is a labor of love. Or madness. But the end results can be amazing.


  2. Hi! I’m Luis, I’m great fan of your blog and conversions, The building and converting it’s the most interesting part of the hobby. ( I’m Chaos abd Ad Mech collector )
    Congratulations and I will try to build True Scale space marines following your tutorials


    1. Thanks Luis! Glad you have enjoyed my blog and good luck. It’s 50% creativity and 50% patience, because the work isn’t terribly hard, just time consuming. If you do end up making them, feel free to share them with me on Facebook.


  3. Hi Loving the blog been a fan/ admirer of the models you do for a while, and i’m just starting to experiment with more modelling of my marines. Any tips on cutting the arms/ legs? do you just use a hobby knife with a very sharp edge or do you use something more heavy duty?



    1. Thanks Adam.

      Almost all the cutting is done with Xacto #1 or #2 knives, depending on the leverage I need. Obviously I prefer the #1 for its precision. Occasionally use the general purpose or deburring blades if the task suits it.


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