One of the neatest thing about playing Space Marines is starting your own chapter- in the background history of the game, there are one thousand Space Marine chapters listed in the Imperium, but only a fraction of them are named- why? So you can create your own chapter!
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to play one of the listed chapters in codex Space Marines, or even Space Wolves, or Dark Angels- you don’t!
That said, playing an established chapter is a bit easier since you already have a guide as to how you will need to paint the miniatures with further online support in the form of pictures, blogs, and youtube videos offering advice.
When starting your own chapter, you are literally on your own!
So here is some advice to get you started, what I learned in making up my own SM chapter…
First up is the colors of the models of course- how do you want them to look? Any color is “fine”, although some are a bit easier to paint like green, while others are harder like yellow or white. Keep in mind that your colors will not just be on the Space Marine infantry models, but on bigger stuff like bikes, tanks, and dreadnoughts, so something that might look good in your mind on a marine, might not look so good on a land raider.
Next step is of course to get the models to paint, and once you have them, there is a sub step- get three or four test Space Marines and an old Rhino or vehicle to play around with. But a few for a buck or so off ebay, hit up your local club- you need some test subjects to first try out your colors and see how they look on actual models- you DON’T want to paint up that tactical squad to then later have regrets…
Keep in mind that you are also not bound to any one codex in making your own chapter- you can paint your marines how you want and use the Space Wolves or Dark Angels codex for the rules and wargear, and call yourself X chapter- I do this with my Brotherhood of the Sword Chapter- red and gold, but I use the Black Templar codex. The only thing you have to make sure is that the models are built to represent the codex- for example if you build them with just bolters, and then later want to play a ruleset that uses bolt pistols and chain swords as a base on the tacticals you are going to have a problem.
Spend a few moments thinking about what codex you want, and if you can’t fully decide or want to keep your options open, then consider magnetizing both bolters and chainsword options just in case.
Beyond that, there are no hard fast rules to making up your own chapter!