How to draw a Space Marine ( Warhammer 40K )

In Art, Tutorials by improveyourdrawings

In this tutorial, I will show you step by step how to draw a Space Marine like the one I’ve drawn. No matter if you work in digital or using traditional medium, this tutorial can be followed using both methods. At the end of the tutorial you will find attached the link to the time-lapse video of this image, so you can see the whole process, but I really recommend you to check the full tutorial in order to understand how the proportions and volumes work when you are drawing one of the mighty Adeptus Astartes.

As a side note if you want to know which traditional art supplies or digital tablets I use and recommend you, check the links at the bottom of the article.

If you want more in-depth info about which art supplies I recommend and use, you can check my article about “Recommended art supplies”.

With that being said let’s start the tutorial.

First Step: Creating the Skeleton

The camera angle I choose for drawing this character is a higher one. I have to keep in mind this fact.

I will start drawing the waist, drawing it like some sort of short underwear. Once you have the waist placed then you can start drawing the torso on top of it. The torso is like a rounded box and it´s important to show the different sides of it. In this case, the right side of the torso will be totally hidden from the viewer. Meanwhile, the left side will be shown clearly.

Drawing the torso

Remember to keep the torso and the waist separated from each other. The space in between them will be the abdominal area. The bottom of the torso will represent the lower ribs. Once both volumes are placed, create a curve line connecting both, waist and torso. This line will divide the front face of the torso ( where the chest is ). You can draw also a curved line under the chest area.  Ding that you will define where the arch of the ribs will be placed.

The size of the torso will be over 3 heads or 3 heads and a half in hight. Keep in mind the volume of the Space Marine´s head is smaller related to his body mass if we compare it with the regular human head. The Astartes are super muscular giants, who were humans once but they were modified genetically. Keeping a smaller head will accent the idea of this transformation. Remember don’t draw it too small or it will look ridiculous.

Drawing the legs

Regarding the legs, the size of the thigh will be 2 heads more or less and for the shin 2 and a half. This will work pretty well for the front leg, but for the right leg, which bears the weight of the character and is not in front, the high angle of the camera can be a little bit tricky. The higher the angle the shorter the distances.  So try to keep in mind the perspective and place the knee and the foot of the right leg higher compare to the left leg. Drawing the right leg shorter you are placing it in perspective with the upper point of view of the spectator.

Second Step: Drawing the Volumes

In this step, I will define the main volumes of the armor. The most identifiable elements of the Space Marine armor are the shoulder pads, pretty massive pieces of armor shaped like a quart of a sphere with a thick border frame all around it. The shoulder pad covers the shoulder, the biceps, and the triceps, hiding them fully. The upper border of the pad goes a little bit above the head of the Astartes if the warrior is not wearing the helmet. In case the Space Marine wears his battle helmet, the head will match the hight of the shoulder pads.

The thighs, shin pads, knee pads, and feet are pretty massive too. The thighs armor are cylinder shaped. The shin pads are cylinders too but the bottom is thicker than the upper pad. The knee pads can be drawn in different shapes: spheres, square and even cradles. Sometimes the shin pads and the knee pads are blends in one big piece of armor protecting shin and knee at the same time.

Third Step: Drawing the Volumes 2

Now is time to place the arms and the Bolter weapon. The reason why I drew these elements last is that the weapon overlaps a big part of the torso. I like to sketch the torso fully before placing anything in front, doing that I´m getting sure the abdominal area and the hips are connecting properly and there is no misplacement. In this step, I will only draw a simple rectangle following the same perspective than the rest of the body. You can use this rectangle for any type of rifle,  drawing the weapon inside in later stages. A cool thing about Bolters is they are basically boxes with a magazine, a pistol grip and a short and wide barrel, so they are easy to draw :).

Regarding the arms, the only part visible are the elbow pads, the forearms, and the gauntlets. The forearms are cylinders, narrower on the hand side. The hands will be drawn like to squares( for the palms) with two trapezoids ( the fingers ) attached to them. The finger can be divided on two depending on the position and the flexing of the hand.

Don´t forget to add the armor´s backpack. Remember the backpack towers over the head of the marine, at least half of a head.


Fourth Step: Cleaning the lines and fixing little mistakes

At this stage of the drawing, my main goal will be to clean the lineart.

If I’m working in digital  I will create a new layer and draw on top of the old drawing. I will lower the opacity of my rough sketch layer and work on top, but I will not discard the rough layer at the bottom because I like the noise it creates on the drawing. Leaving the rough sketch in a lower opacity adds some organic feeling to the drawing and also imitates the result you would have if you were drawing it with pencil and paper.

If I’m drawing it traditionally I will use a mechanical pen or a woodless graphite pencil depending if I want more precision or if I want to create more organic line art. My eraser of choice will be a kneaded rubber. I will erase gently the rough sketch living the traces of the old drawing and I will draw on top of it.

Before I jump to the detailing stage ( the fun one ) I always double check if all the different elements of the drawing are working the way I want or not. In this case, I decided to move the head a little bit back. Also, I decided to make the feet bigger and change the bottom of the shin pads narrowing it.

Fifth Step: Going for the details ( finally )

The head

Before starting If you are new drawing faces I will recommend you to check a video tutorial I have on YouTube about “How to draw a human male face” ( link ). The tutorial shows you how to draw properly a human head from the front view. Our character’s head here is almost fully frontal but keep in mind the higher point of view when drawing his facial features. A good example of this will be to draw the eyes, not in the middle of the sphere of the head. Instead of that, place them a little bit lower( but just a bit). This will reduce the size of the face a bit and will make the forehead larger. Also drawing the eyes remember to cast some subtle shadow over them falling from the eyebrows.

Remember to draw the nose without showing the nostrils, just the tip, and the nose flaps. You can cast some shadow to come from the nose and hiding a little bit of the upper mouth area. Ears because of the perspective will start a little bit higher. Usually, they start from the bottom of the temple in a front view, but here they start almost from the middle of the forehead.

Detailing the head you can add all sorts of scars, wrinkles or ritual tattoos depending on the damage the marine is carrying in his body, his age and the world origin of his chapter. Also, you can add all sorts of cybernetic enhancements, from metal plates to robotic eyes, cables, etc… You will find online lots of images that can use as references for all those details.  

The shoulder pad   

Shoulder pads are, like I said before, iconic pieces of armor for a Space Marine. The silhouette of an Astartes is very recognizable, in part because of the shoulder pads where is always painted the Adeptus Astartes chapter symbol. In this case, I chose the Ultramarines, because they are quite standard in their appearance, and their symbol is the ¨U¨of Ultramar, the group of planetary systems they rule inside the empire.

You can paint other icons on the image, like the company number, an emblem with the chapter name, some honorific distinctions etc… Personally, I like to add some bolts, cuts, and scratches. Also, I like to make the borders of the shoulder pads, and the armor in general with some signs of weathering.

I always like to attach some purity seals, like the one you can see in the image on top, or another decoration hanging like an old page of a sacred book with some inscription.

If you want to draw a purity seal it will be cool to show it hanging, not fully vertically. You can use them to suggest the idea of motion in the image, like some wind was blowing slightly,  making the scroll´s strip of the seal waft subtly. Remember to show both faces of the floating paper imitating how this material will behave under similar conditions in real life.

Other interesting decoration can be the little knight shield I added on the right shoulder pad. You can paint some heraldic symbol inside the shield, as I did in my drawing, representing the company emblem, for example.

The knee pads

Knee pads are another of those pieces of armor Space Marines like to decorate with squadron symbols, numbers or decorations like skulls and laurel crowns. The decorations again will change depending on the chapter your Astartes will be part of.

Sixth Step: The Background

This is the last stage. I will draw a quite abstract background with some lines suggesting the ground textures and some rocks. I will cast some shadow on the ground with some crosshatching. If  I want to give the idea of a battleground I usually draw some smoke and some debris particles waft by the wind. Also, another cool detail will be cracks and holes on the ground from bombs and another impact weapons.

With this, I conclude the tutorial. If you wanna watch the whole process please check the video below and if you like it please subscribe to my YouTube channel where you will find new videos and exclusive tutorials every week. Also if you have any comments or doubts leave them on the comments box on the bottom of the page.

Thanks and stay tuned to this blog for more cool tutorials and articles to come.

Art Supplies and tablets I recommend and use:

 graphite pencil I use link 

 mechanical pencil link

 kneaded rubber link 

link to a digital tablet if you are starting

Here is the link to a better but quite affordable tablet

Here is the link to a professional tablet

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