Friday 23 April 2021

Imperator Titan Build Mega Update 5!

For the Omnissiah!

Ira Metallum Stands!

I've made a huge amount of progress on my Imperator Titan build since the last update I posted; mainly thanks to having booked a week off work and getting a lot of time to crack on with the beast!

My aim was to use my time off wisely and get the lower half of the body into a state where it could be painted.  This would allow me to fully and permanently assemble the legs, base and pelvis.  This sounded pretty straightforward, but in reality was actually a huge task as I had so much detailing to complete, some minor structural issues which needed to be addressed and the one part I'd been dreading - making the shin guards...

As much as I am chomping at the bit to work on the body, carapace, arms and head, I knew that getting the legs completed to give me a really solid foundation was key. I'm almost at the finish line with the legs and have continued to document the process as I've gone along!  Enjoy the pictures and my rambling...

Thigh Armour

Although I'd completed the first thigh armour plate in my last post, I still had a second one to make.  The build was relatively uneventful as I followed the same process as the first plate.

The two plates side by side - the left plate was still in progress when this picture was taken

With only a small amount of work left on the second plate, I did a test assembly to make sure everything fit.  I also test fitted the pneumatic hoses to see how they looked 

Note the titan's proximity to the wall which it required in order to stand at this point! At this point in the build I also hadn't added the hose ports to the rear of the legs which is why they're not fully attached 

Outer Shin Armour Detailing

I've mentioned before that I put together an assembly process for big projects like this one where I come up with the order in which I intend to build components as some need to be completed before I can fit the next part correctly.  Although they didn't have much of a structural impact on the build, the outer shin guard details needed to be added before I could construct the front facing shin guard plates which will be made to overlap the side facing panels.  I also needed to complete them before I could make the toe joint armour plating as that would also need to be made to fit a very particular area.

For clarity, the highlighted area is the panel I needed to detail on both sides of each leg as the shape is mirrored 

I traced out the shape on graph paper then drew up the design over a couple of evenings. I carefully used some high quality masking tape to thicken the paper then painstakingly cut out the design with a knife.  This would now act as a template

Once I had cut out the design on 2mm foamex, I tested the master on the panels to make sure it would fit as intended

Much to my wife's chagrin, I then created a silicone mould and set about casting up four copies of the design in resin in our kitchen. I added some reservoirs in the mould so that when I scraped off the excess resin it had somewhere to run other than the worktop!

I cleaned up the casts with a sander, making sure that they all ended up the same depth... 

...while burying myself and everything around me with a blizzard of resin dust

And here is a detail plate fixed to the shin with the rivets added. I had to glue on the rivets after casting because I needed the design to be usable for both sides

Toe Joint Armour

The groundwork for the toe joint armour plating was laid when I first designed and attached the toes, adding the circular joints on each side of the two side facing toes.  The intention was always to hide the join with armour and also make sure that the joint plates could move independently of the foot and toes to accommodate posability,

Here's a rough sketch showing how I intended to layer the armour plating and integrate the toes

I wanted the toe joint armour to have a nice rounded Mars pattern feel to tie them in with the rest of the titan

After drawing out the design on graph paper again, I made some templates then assembled four identical copies from foamex and styrene

I continually checked the fit while cutting the components, making minor adjustments as I went along

The final basic plates fit over the joint and clip into the circular toe joints. Each armour plate can be moved up and down so I can pose them exactly as desired in the final build.  It also adds to the realism of the build, as it has the correct structure for real world movements
Once I was happy with the fit for the plates, I coated them with epoxy putty and made some nice rounded plating before sanding them to a nice finish.  Note that I also hardened all of the joints and connections with putty as they needed a very slight bend to clip them in place so I needed them to be strong

Once I was happy with the filling and sanding, I added trim, details and rivets

Test fitting them to the toes went perfectly so I called this stage done!

Here are the four plates sprayed with a silver base coat - they look great once they're not a hodge-podge of coloured parts!

Secondary Toes

In my last post I showed the secondary toes I'd made - in order to mount them effectively, I needed to create the sockets.
The secondary toe socket was made in a similar fashion to the toes themselves 

I test fit the parts while making the sockets to make sure the fit was correct

Here is the final socket with the details such as trim and rivets added

I made callbacks to existing titans and my own designs during socket sculpting. Most people probably won't even notice, but the details are there! 

After a lot of deliberation, I decided that the toes didn't work on the front of the foot, so I went back to just adding them to the rear either side of the heel

Other little details which I was quite pleased with are things like the pistons which would control the toe movement.  Again, it just reinforces the realism of the piece even though I could have left them out

Toe Rebuild

During the build of the striding foot, I'd attached the side facing toes with a block to help keep them straight on an uneven surface.  It had niggled me for a while as it had extended the toe connection and by proxy their distance from the foot by approximately 10mm.  Although that doesn't sound like a lot, it just never looked right next to the other foot and made the toe joint armour plate fitting extremely difficult.  I finally decided that after sinking almost a year and a half into the project, I couldn't afford to bodge my way around a problem as I'd end up regretting it later.

As a result, I cut off the side toes, cleaned everything up and then reconstructed the joints of the toes.  It took a whole evening and was a little stressful, but I am very glad to have made the decision not to press ahead with a less than perfect design!

Here is the result of the toe removal and trimming off of excess material.  It was pretty rough taking a saw and knife to something I'd spent so many hours on, but the end result was worth the anxiety!  In this picture, you can also see the reinforced ribbing which I added to the inside of the shin plates

While I was working on the disconnected toes, I also added some heavy duty treads to the bottom - it's about 10mm deep, so it's got some brutal grip!

Shin Armour Plates

Ok, so this is the big one. Out of everything I needed to build for the Imperator, the thought of two perfectly smooth, tapering compound curved armour plates terrified me.  I spent hours working out how to get them looking the way I wanted.  I'll walk you exhaustively through the process I used... :)

I began the process by making cladding to match the existing shin plates then cut them to the shape I wanted for the finished greaves.  You'll notice that I had started marking up the area for the Vulcan Mega Bolters

Once I had the three panel sections glued together, I cut the shaped ribs which would help me to achieve the required curves when I got to the shaping phase.  The scrappy pieces of foamex were only there to add a little bulk meaning I needed less filler

Shin guards with the first layer of body filler

Annoyingly, at this point I ran out of filler so left them to cure overnight and sought out some more the next day...
The next day I put on the last coat with a nice new tin of Isopon!

I did some heavy sanding then retested the panels to make sure that they fit.  At this point, I noted that the heat of the curing Isopon had actually warped the plates slightly.  I broke the plates and fixed them in the right position before filling all of the gaps and lower areas of the plate's skirt

And here are the final plates after some painstaking filling and sanding to correctly profile them. 

While designing the shin plates, I had decided that I wanted to integrate a void shield emitter into each one.  The Imperator is so gigantic even compared to other titans that I felt it would need the emitters studded over its entire body in order to provide the whole machine with effective shielding.  I modelled the emitters on the Warlord version but slightly larger.

I made a master emitter on a flat plane so it could be moulded in one piece.  I have some standard counters which form the underside of each emitter

Two emitter casts next to the master mould

A rectangular gap was cut through into the void of both shins

The Vulcan Mega Bolter housing was designed to provide a mechanical connection, tightly fixing the plates together

The Vulcan Mega Bolters fit snugly into the housing to provide some brutal point defence for the legs

Adding trim to the armour plating is a fairly long winded process, but it it's much easier with the components I'd previously cast up to add flourishes on the plating

The skirt on this side of the plate between the toes was built up with epoxy putty and sanded into shape.  I deliberately left this area until the panel was fixed in place as it's over a curved area and was easier to marry up in post 


With only the shin plates and feet left to clean up and detail, I was able to start priming the legs and pelvis.  Once I've finished painting them, I'll be able to fix the hips and lock the legs into the shins and feet permanently.

In order to prepare the parts for their silver base coat, I cleaned the components one last time and then used plastic primer to seal them and help them to bond a little better with the paint

The first batch of components sprayed silver

I love this stage as it pulls everything together and allows you to see it as a single entity rather than a patchwork of layers

Sprayed detail on the outside leg -really shaping up well 

The inside leg features a service hatch and ladder as shown in my last blog post.  I had to remove and reinforce the ladder guards with metal wire as they were way too fragile in just plastic

The rear of the leg sports a number of huge pistons, service panels and other details.  You can also see the pneumatic hose port I've added to the upper thigh

I found that the teeth of the locking pins weren't long enough to lock solidly enough into the pelvis so I drilled into them, added 3" screws for the core and extended the flat surfaces with putty.

 The legs now lock into the hip sockets very tightly and once filled with epoxy resin WILL NEVER MOVE AGAIN!!!

I am particularly fond of the token storm bolter mounted in the rear of the pelvis.

I decided to paint the panels before fixing them permanently and have started with the crotch plate - I'm going with classic Legio Metalica colours, so black and white hazards are a must!


Although the base is still in its infancy, I have started working out what I want the Imperator to be striding on and over.  It's difficult to understand the scale of a model like the Imperator without visual queues.  One of the best places to show this is on the base...

I've marked out the footprint of the Imperator onto the base as I will be building up the rest of the base to simulate the weight of the titan pressing into the ground in a similar way to what I did with the Reaver's feet

Here is a munitorum armoured container...

...and here it is after an Imperator has stepped on it!

It was a lot harder than it looks to crush half of the container without completely ruining the detail

I ended up smashing the crate after assembly then heating, deforming, flattening and then partly reassembling the crate over a couple of hours.  Eventually it will be placed just under the back half of the striding foot

A Final Look at Ira Metallum Standing!

From above you can see how the legs and armour plates all lock together
As soon as I've finished the shin guards I'll be gap filling and detailing everything before getting the base done
From above you can see the large slot in the waist which the body slots into
It's all coming together!
Here's a 28mm miniature to give you an idea of just how huge this guy is!


Finally I'll give you a peek at the banner I'm starting to draw up - this will eventually be hanging between the Imperator's legs, giving me a fair amount of room to work with.  I've only done a few quick sketches so far, but I'm starting to form an idea of what I'd like to have on it.

This was my first sketch - I like the crenelations at the bottom of the banner and the two side sashes which will take the kill markings.  I wanted an armoured figure in the central window, so started trying to work out a look

I tried a crusader styled warrior, but this came a bit too close to the look of a black templar

A skeletal warrior in armour is closer to the look I want, to represent the iron skulls and their martial prowess.  I'll keep sketching until I reach an image I'm happy to translate into a banner image!