The standard one-inch game pieces, the six-inch plastic action figures that populate the shelves of comic book stores, or even life-size costumes of characters from video and board-oriented role playing games (RPGs) and comic books: those are small fry to one Warhammer 40k fan. Orlando, Florida-based graphic designer, Gary Sterley, wowed fellow Warhammer fans last year with his Warhammer 40k Space Marine costume built for wearing for both Halloween and cosplay conventions (cons). He used PVC and foam for most of the costume (and built stilts in to the shoes), but knew he needed something very special for the most distinctive part of the costume: the character’s “Power Fist.” Gary augmented the costume by creating a 3D printed Power Fist. His step-by-step process is available on his Instructables website.
For those readers unfamiliar with Warhammer 40k — the game’s full title is Warhammer 40,000, — here’s a quick summary: Warhammer 40k is a traditional, board-oriented RPG, made by Games Workshop. It’s the futuristic version of its predecessor, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, set in a dystopian sci-fi future. In this forty-first millennium, war-torn universe, various races and factions of humans are the oppressed masses of an interstellar empire ruled by the tyrannical Eldar, the Orks ,and the Daemons. Powerful warriors — including the genetically modified, superhuman Space Marines — defend humanity from these tyrants. One of the most formidable Space Marine chapters is the Crimson Fists. Their armor is predominantly blue but the right hand is distinguished by its intimidating — you guessed it — Crimson Fist.
Sterley wanted a Crimson Fist that in appearance remained faithful to the game models but he also wanted something more complex than other cosplayers’ foam versions (like Henrik Pilerud, who inspired much of Sterley’s build process). He had also received a Christmas gift from his wife that inspired his creative process: a Solidoodle2 3D printer. Sterley’s primary goals were to create a finished piece wherein all of the fingers could articulate in a realistic way and the various components could be connected without the hardware showing, all while remaining as faithful as possible to the appearance of the game’s models. 3D printing the parts would enable him to create the articulate piece he imagined.
The graphic designer had little previous experience with 3D modeling but taught himself to create a satisfactory model, transferring his 2D sketches into 3D via Google Sketchup. Sterley admitted that the 3D modeling process took longer than he hoped, but he eventually created a model that achieved his goals. His design, which featured individual fingers with three segments each, all snapped together without the need for hardware. He used elastic bands inside of the structure, which were held in place by rings. Strings allowed him to control the movement of the fingers, which curl over and fold inward to make a fist — a Crimson Fist.
Sterley sent his final .STL file to his Solidoodle2 3D printer. His first round of printing proved less successful than he hoped. The problem was with the overall size of Sterley’s Power Fist, which really evokes the exaggerated graphics of comic books and video games. Not content to scale down the piece, Sterley made a number of adjustments to the design, including adding four segments to each finger and rethinking the hardware. The end result is a large — approximately the size of its wearer’s torso — multi-component Power Fist, complete with a winged skull and the word “MORTEM” emblazoned on the top of the hand.
While the Crimson Fist consists primarily of 3D printed pieces, Sterley also applied his graphic and handcrafting skills to create the finished piece. His Instructables site includes photographs and a demo video of his project.
The final costume has made quite a splash at the many conventions and public events to which Sterley has worn it. Let’s hear your thoughts on this 3D printed hand in the Warhammer 40k forum thread on 3DPB.com.