Monday, 8 March 2021

Imperator Titan Build Mega Update 4!

Before Christmas I packed away the Imperator Titan as it was taking up a significant portion of our living room which we required for festive decorations.  My wife remained unconvinced that a four foot robot model with tinsel over it was equal to a Christmas tree, so Ira Metallum had to be shuffled off to the garage!

This enforced hiatus also gave me time to work on other projects such as the Trogg King which was a nice change of pace and gave me the opportunity to stretch my freeform sculpting muscles again.

Initially I wanted my 40th birthday in February to be the end point for my Imperator build, but due to [real life], I had to pause work for a few months which really put a dent in my schedule.  At the start of February I started pondering the big questions like; 'does the Imperator need stabilising toes?' and 'how will I segment the armour plating?'.  This led me to start sketching and reworking the foot and shin designs.


This sketch convinced me that I could incorporate stabilising toes between the main ones without compromising the overall look.  I also decided that each shin would have a Vulcan Mega Bolter just above the bunker door

In addition to the stabilising toes, I also decided on the addition of a single large rear facing toe.  I have not yet decided on whether I'll add stabilising toes to the rear... 

Initially, I drew up a toe which was closer to the reaver in design, with flat tapering panels, but I decided that this was a little pedestrian and didn't really fit with the rest of the design

I liked the overall shape of the first design, but reworked it a few times trying to fit the general aesthetic I was going for.  This was the final look that I settled on

From these sketches I built the basic shapes from foamex, starting with the sole of the toe, then packed the void with tinfoil and sculpted the details with greenstuff and milliput.  Once this had cured, I sanded and filled, repeating the process until I had a nice finish.

To give you an idea of scale, this 'small' toe is half the size of a Warlord Titan head!  (That's my custom warlord head which I re-sculpted - I'll go into that further down in this post...)

Once I was happy with the shape and finish, I applied rivets to the trim and panel work

From the rear you can see the main ball connector and the holes for the pistons to be attached

I was pleased with the trim design wrapping over the knuckle of the toes as it adds a nice feature to break up the flat panels

From this master, I made a silicone mould and ran off several resin copies of the toe.  Overall, I think it turned out really nicely!

Inner shins

In order to get the legs locked into the feet and shins, I would need to complete the detailing and paint any hard to reach areas in advance of the final assembly and fixing the titan to its base.  As such, I needed to get the inner shins detailed in a similar way to the thighs.  I had sketched out the inner shins previously, but opted for a slightly different design for the inner sections.

This was my original blueprint for the shins, but I decided to make some changes for the inward facing sides

After working out the final design on graph paper and making a template, I cut out the top layer from 2mm foamex sheet and gathered together all of the components I intended to use for the final assembly.  I did end up changing some of the components during the build, but most made it onto the final surface

The basic mockup

Assembly in progress!

The completed inner shin.  I was so happy with the caged service ladder - I've always wanted to make one, but never had a reason until now!
From above, you can see how the service ladder fits nicely behind the armour plating to protect anyone brave enough to venture outside the titan!

Both inner shins detailed - the outer shins will be similar, but I will not be adding a service ladder to the outside of the legs as it would lave personnel to exposed to enemy fire! 

While I was working on the shins, I also added detail to the 'inner' inner shins running the length of the main piston.  It's an area which will remain mostly unseen so didn't require lavish detail, but I'd know it was barren and that would bother me!

Thigh armour

The original Imperator Titan didn't actually have any thigh armour plating, but I thought this was a little cavalier of the Mechanicum given the amount of fire the legs would be likely to take!

While designing my Imperator, I made sure to reference the existing Forgeworld titan range as it's important that Ira Metallum fits in with the rest of my growing legio.  With that in mind, I intended to give curves to the majority of the armour plating, even if only subtle compared to some of the sweeping curves of a warlord.

As the thigh plates needed to fit the contours of the endoskeleton very closely, I mapped out the panel on card and used that to make sure that the fit was right.  This involved chopping pieces off and cutting extra sections until I was happy with the overall shape as it sat over the thigh

Once I'd cut out the panel shapes, I assembled them to form the basic boxy plate which I made minor adjustments to while checking the fit

This is the underside of the panel which includes a rail which locks onto the thigh receiver.  You also notice that I reinforced the styrene curve at the front with putty as I would need to shape the armour a little later on when I hit the sanding phase

I detailed the knee in advance of fitting the armour plate so I knew how much clearance would be required.  Note the rail receivers on the upper thigh and the fact that they intentionally avoid the area which would move for the shock absorbers within the thigh

The armour did fit with only minor tweaks here and there.  Although I have only pictured one, I actually did the box construction for both thigh plates at the same time for consistency.  I'm currently working on the second thigh plate now that I have learned some valuable lessons with this one!

The thigh armour has a cut-out to accommodate the electrical cables which will run between the pelvis and inner thighs

I created all of the curved areas using a putty mix and then carefully sanded, filled and re-sanded the surface until it was smooth.

At this point, I started to draw the details and trim layout straight onto the armour so I could get a good idea of what I'd need

With a project this large and complex, any time which can be saved with casting is worth the additional effort and cost.  I produced a sheet of trim and panel details which I could use in multiple areas.  This gave the added benefit of making sure that they remained consistent regardless of where they appear on the model

I created a silicone mould of the sheet so I can run off sets as I need them

The first casting!

The first run all cleaned up - I was very pleased with how they turned out!

I added the trim and insignia to the thigh plate...

Which required some minor filling and sanding along with rivets before taking its place on the thigh!

Knee Pads

As I have mentioned before, compound curves are the most difficult thing to produce - especially in pairs!  It took me a long time to work out a process which would work without costing the earth or taking an age to produce.  It's a little odd, but here's how I went about creating the curved knee pads.

Firstly, I think it's important to describe my dilemma - foamex is strong, light and great for any straight edges which do not need to bend.  If you try to bend or heat foamex, it creases, snaps or melts, so this was not the best material for the job.  I have created curved areas such as the pelvis using the 'loaf of bread' technique which is a number of sheets cut to size to create the shape with many layers, but it's not ideal for smaller areas like the knee pads.

Styrene can be bent far more easily unlike foamex, but it also has limitations.  In general, styrene can bend in one direction.  If you try to bend it in more than one direction, it will simply snap and / or buckle.  You can heat styrene and bend it, but I find the material far too unpredictable with heat - it has a tendency to deform with heat, so you can't get a consistent shape without a vacuum forming tool, which is a very expensive way of solving the problem!

Eventually I came up with another option.  Enter Worbla - it's a special thermo plastic which can be heated and formed into any shape then becomes more rigid once it's cooled again. It's mainly used for cosplay as it can be used to produce lightweight armour plating with minimal effort and can be cut with shears or large scissors so is very easy to use.  It also has another curious property which is that when heated, two pieces of Worbla can be stuck together, creating a solid bond.  This can be done again and again without any degradation in strength!  I find this endlessly fascinating, but I do recognise that I am probably alone in this! :)

I created a template with graph paper then test fit this to ensure I had the correct size next to the legs.  I then marked and cut out two identical knee pads in Worbla.

The knee pads were checked against the model for size

I used a heat gun and a ball cock as a jig to shape the armour plates, being careful not to stretch or deform them while creating the curves

Here are the curved knee pads next to the template

The Worbla on its own is not thick or rigid enough, but it acts as a shaped anchor for me to encase in putty.  Once cured, the putty shell is extremely rigid and durable

I constructed a frame at the rear of the plates to connect to the outer knee curves being sure to avoid the central knee ratchet 

After the putty was fully cured, I coated the whole surface with car body filler which would thicken the pads and allow for a nice smooth surface once sanded.

Once sanded, the knee pads just needed trim and detailing!

The right knee pad looks great with the completed thigh plate

The left knee pad design is a deliberate nod to the warlord titan although much larger! 

Although I've not mentioned it specifically until now, I also finished building and attaching the toes to the right foot.  This was not a small task, but as I have covered a foot build previously, I didn't feel it was necessary to go over it again!  Once I've completed the second thigh plate and outer shins on the exoskeleton, it will be full speed ahead on the shin armour plates!


I did some more design work on the Imperator head as I wasn't 100% sold on my previous designs and I had learned a fair bit about what would work while creating my custom Warlord head!

The new Imperator head design

The new interior design which will house the princeps, a moderati and 2 steersmen

Ira Metallum's princeps

Warlord Titan Head

Although I am still saving up my pennies for a Forgeworld Warlord Titan, I bought the Mars Beta Warlord head a while ago when I visited Warhammer World as I wanted to convert it to more closely resemble the MK II Epic Warlord Titan from yesteryear.

My favourite of the old epic warlord head sculpts - the MK II head screams Legio Metalica!

A sketch of how I envisaged my Warlord head

The Mars Beta head after completing the sub assemblies - I needed to put it together to work out exactly what would need to be nipped and tucked

The Mars Beta Warlord head after the initial 'alterations' were made.  Also a snapshot of the moment I looked at it objectively and questioned what I'd just done.

This is a picture of what £65 looks like on the other side of a wood chipper

I won't describe all of the steps which got me to the final sculpt as it's fairly self explanatory.  Below are the pictures I took throughout the process. (The final pictures show the head with a basic paint scheme, but I still need to add details and decals!)

A parting Trogg

I felt that my Troggherd was missing some magical assistance, but I didn't want to sully the purity (or stupidity?) of my Troggoths with a goblin.  I decided to procure a Sourbreath Troll to convert into a Fungoid Cave Shaman.  I was quite pleased how he turned out as he fit beautifully onto a 32mm base making him a great proxy for the goblin alternative!


  1. Very nice progress. The legs are coming along well and I love the detailing. However, I am not sure the old toe design (the stairs) goes that well together with the rest of the style on the legs. I do like the new back toe design though. Anyway very impressive. And as a side point... I would never dear to commit to cutting up a forge world model that much.

    1. thanks matey - I know what you mean about the toes, but once the shin armour is done and the toe details are in place, I think it will look a lot more cohesive. As for the Warlord head... it did take me a while to pluck up the courage to make such radical changes!!

  2. This titan is incredible. You are an inspiration. I have a battlefield that I've been working on that is almost complete (ordohypotheosis), but a project of this size might be my next goal.

    1. Thanks dude - appreciate your kind words! I'd definitely recommend starting out creating some basic shapes using foamex (PA light foam) and super glue to fully understand how to use it as it's quite a versatile material and a fraction of the weight of other materials. Be sure to let me know if you do start a titanic project! :)

  3. This is going to be such a beatiful engine! It's a blast to read along and get to see your thoughts and all the details you put into all the nooks and crevasses.
    Also: That picture of the denuded Titan head is somewhat scary - certainly the scariest stage of such a conversion. The newly sculpted parts look amazing however!

  4. Superb progress Mate, love the ladders in the shins, with safety cage, safety first. Great job on Warlord Head, unique and very Metalica.