I've been commissioned to do an elaborate conversion of the existing 54mm Space Marine (Artemis), turning him into a pre-Heresy marine. Although I'm a little time away from starting the actual sculpting, I thought I'd share my concept work (with the client's permission).
This initial illustration was based on the client's vague request for a pre-Heresy space marine.
I thumbed through my Horus Heresy Collected Visions and noted what I thought were the coolest elements that had a clear "pre-Heresy" feel to them and immediately alighted upon the illustrations of Ultramarines with faceplates riveted over their Mk2/3 helms: very sinister.
This next image was to help the client visualize what sort of pose the client wanted. I recommended an upright pose to assist with playability (as, if the model had a more "typical" squat pose, it would need a 60mm base, reducing its ability to manouevre on a densely terrained tabletop).
I also added more meat to the helmet concept (which the client loved), giving it a bit more detail and attention and adding a long-range comm-link to the helmet.
Note also the Mk1 bolter from the first illustration, based on the original RTB-01 design that I consider to be an icon of 20th Century design! Unfortunately, after seeing this sketch, the client decided on giving the model an assault focus.
One of the important things with a 54mm conversion - especially one that's a commission for a paying client - is that it has to be planned out in exact detail before you start to ensure (a) that the client is entirely happy with what he's getting and (b) that you know how to everything you plan on doing in advance, because there's nothing like promising a certain effect to your client only to discover later that you have no idea how to do it.
In that vein, I did this sketch of the leg. Artemis has Mk7 legs, with the separate knee-pad, so this is going to be an area where I have to a substantial rebuild.
The client finally decided that he wanted me to concentrate on Dark Angel concepts, with an "assault" feel - he indictated an illustrated in the Horus Heresy book of a Space Wolf with a big, round shield to give me an idea of what sort of look he wanted.
With that in mind, I did this:
This is another good example of why this sort of pre-planning is so important when working for a client. He specified the desire for the wings on the helmet but, as I was drawing them, I suddenly realized that I had no idea how I would sculpt them. Well, sculpting them would be easy enough. Actually, it was how to keep them from then breaking every time the client so much as dared to breathe on them. GW provides the solution, of course. I will use the plastic wings from the Dark Angels plastic boxed set.
The client loved the new chest plastron design (Mk2). He has now asked me to look into giving the model a mace (which is nice of him, because I complained about how rubbish I am at sculpting swords - for something that's just basically long and straight they take me absolutely bloody forever!).
I'm also going to start work on the helmet tonight or tomorrow - time to break out the Dremel!