Introduction: Warhammer 40K Tech Priest Cosplay - SKS Props

About: Steven (aka SKS Props) is a seasoned member of the RPF and a Pro Builder on the site Instructables. He has made a name for himself by creating extremely detailed costumes/props based off of popular video games…

Hey everyone Steve here at SKS Props back again with another cosplay build! This time I am pushing my creative ability to the max! I am attempting to build an entire Warhammer 40K Tech Priest costume in only a couple of weeks, to take to DragonCon! For those that don't know the lore, the Tech Priests are the ones who craft / bless the weapons and armor for the Emperor's Space Marines. I have been painting miniatures for years and it seems only fitting to bring one of these guys into the real world. Foremost, I love how much detail and individuality you can put into your own character, not one of them is exactly the same because they all fulfill different roles within their war machine!

Before we begin let me say some of the products that are use in prop building can be bad for you :(

So be safe!!! Always wear eye protection, wear gloves, and use a respirator when needed.

Lets get started!!!!

Step 1: I'm Now on YouTube!!!

Not only did I take a bunch of pics for the build thread, but I filmed a lot for my YouTube channel. I would recommend to not only watch the videos but read through the steps it took to bring this character to life. I've got a few videos edited now, but I'll be adding more as I work through the collected content.

Also be sure to Subscribe to my YouTube channel for future builds!

Step 2: Reference and Materials

As with all of my prop/costume builds reference pictures are key. When you start to think about making a prop or costume from a video game, movie, etc. always try and find as many reference images as you can. Once I had a bunch of Tech Priest images downloaded from google, I could start to figure out what kind of custom character I was going to create.

Products I used in this build to bring the Warhammer 40K Tech Priest to life!

Foam -

Skull -

Ribbed Pipe -

Ribbed Pipe -

Dremel -

Disc/Belt Sander -

Barge Glue -

Bob Smith Super Glue 2oz -

Bob Smith Glue Accelerator 2oz -

Extra Tips for Glue Bottles -

Rust-Oleum Antique Nickel -

Mars Black -

Iridescent Rich Silver -

Raw Sienna -

Iridescent Bright Silver -

1" Mop Brush -

Filbert Brush -

Liner Brush -

Step 3: Power Axe! the Head of the Axe

First off, I templated the axe head out of Bristol Board, then transferred that to 2" thick high density foam from TNT Cosplay Supply. This half circle as well as the cogs were glued into place using Bob Smith super glue and Barge cement. The cogs were then beveled on the belt sander and cleaned up with a medium grit Dremel sanding drum.

Step 4: Power Axe - Breakdown

The Mars skull logo was drawn freehand to scale and transferred to 8mm foam. I used a sanding drum and wood burner to smooth out and detail the skull. It was glued into place with Barge cement and Bob Smith super glue, and Furniture tacks were used to simulate rivets. The handle was made out of 1" PVC pipe and is designed to break down into 4 pieces, that way the weapon can easily fit into a suite case for travel. The PVC pipe was skinned with 2mm foam and couplers were used to attached the separated sections together.

Step 5: Power Axe - Vice and Screw

Next I started construction on the vice / screw on the back of the axe head. The main screw body was a TNT Cosplay Supply foam dowel wrapped in 4mm foam strips. The vice head and teeth were once again cut from 2" thick high density foam and glued into place. I really wanted the vice and cogs to look as though everything had a purpose and see how turning one part would activate the other.

Step 6: Power Axe - Bits and Pieces

A bunch of resin cast pieces were added to the Warhammer 40K Power Axe axe as well as two basic 3v 5mm LEDs. All of the fake wires were cut from various scrap I had picked up from a local salvage shop. The handle was wrapped with additional 8mm foam and detailed by slicing into the foam with a utility knife, then hitting it with a heat gun allowing the seams to expand. The entire axe weighs about 4 pounds and breaks down into a small stack, not bad for a cosplay prop.

Step 7: Mechadendrite Pack - the Bones

Next up on my Warhammer 40K Tech Priest cosplay I wanted to start the back pack with the servo arm. I knew that this part was going to be a little challenging, because the pack had to not only hold a large arm on one side, but still have some sense of balance. The main back board was cut from 1/4" sintra I picked up at work (they were throwing out some old signs). I measured out where the straps should go to best help balance the pack. Nylon straps were glued / sewed into place and reinforced with barge cement and superglue. Parachute clips were used on the ends so that the pack could easily be taken on and off.

Step 8: Mechadendrite Pack - Building Up the Details

I built some walls out of high density foam to hold the PVC pipe and coupler in place. I figured that it would be a lot more stable if the pipe ran all the way through the pack and was glued to the opposite side. The additional bulky sections of the pack was built up using various thicknesses of foam. The Mars skull logo was etched and cut out on my glowforge laser cutter.

Step 9: Mechadendrite Arm - PVC Structure

The Tech Priest servo arm was based out of 1/2" PVC pipes and couplers. The arm was glued together but not at the lowest junction so that it could be taken off of the pack for transport. The pipes were then wrapped or blocked out in foam. I felt this would give it more of the big bulky feel Warhammer tends to have. The claw and teeth were cut from 2" thick blocks and glued into place. Resin cast parts were added for additional detail, along with hydraulic pipes (foam dowels from TNT Cosplay Supply) These sold the look that the arm could easily raise and lower. Again I wanted it to at least look as though it was as functional as possible.

Step 10: Mechadendrite Arm - Final Arm Details

Additional layers of 2 and 4mm foam were built up to give the impression of a mechanical monstrosity. Wires were cut from various scrap cords and glued into resin cast pieces. A smaller logo was cut on the glowforge and glued to the arm too.

Step 11: Mechadendrite Pack - Final Details

Some smooth on 325 was colored with some so-strong yellow and green dye and rotated in a plastic bottle top. This will be attached to the stack on the right side as an additional detail.

Step 12: Tech Priest Mask

I decided I wanted a mask for my Tech Priest because then I won't have to deal with any prosthetics and I can add some really cool lighting effects for the eyes. Luckily for this build I have a BioShock motorized patriot mask mold that I made years ago, which will be repurposed for my priest. I add some additional resin cast bits and built them out with some appoxi sculpt. These will be ports for LEDs later in the build.

Step 13: Tech Pirest Robe - Basic Form

The Tech Priest's robes I put off as long as I could. I hate sewing. I can make just about anything out of foam, mdf, or styrene but for some reason my sewing machine and I just usually don't get along. I bought a bunch of fabric from the upholstery section at Joann's that I thought was a good weight and texture for the build. I didn't have a pattern, but looked at some pics on google of different Monk habbits and got the general shape of what everything should be.

Step 14: Tech Priest Robe - Cog Details

After the basic shape of the robe was sewn together I painstakingly went through and cut out all of the cog details and sewed them onto the garments hood, sleeves, and hem. Honestly, this is probably the best sewing I have ever done.

To bad I'm making it pretty just to tear it up in the weathering phase :)

Step 15: Robe and Pack...So Far

I wanted to see how the robe and pack looked at this point in the build.

Step 16: Servo Skull - Basic Shape

Servo Skull!!! I have wanted to make a servo skull for a long time, even before I knew I was going to make this costume.

While I was at Joann's I stopped by the Halloween section and found the perfect skull with a detachable jaw. No need to build a skull, work smarter not harder, especially on a deadline as tight as this one. I bent some PCV pipe with a heat gun, so that it would look as though my servo skull was floating off of the pack. I then covered the bent pipe with some corrugated dishwasher drain hose and cut it to length. Once I was happy with the height of the skull I drilled a hole in the bottom and glued it in place. Random pvc pipes and various foam bits were applied so that the skull appeared to have metal augmentations. At this time I made sure to include my LEDs in and around the eye socket so that all of the wires could be covered up with detail pieces. These are 3v 5mm LEDs that have a basic on off switch and a coin battery soldered inline. More and more pipes, hoses, and wires were added until I got the look I wanted.

Step 17: Servo Skull - Final

Again you can see a condensed build video of the servo skull on my YouTube channel.

Step 18: Mask / ​Respirator

Because I am building a half robot human hybrid, I couldn't just have a normal voice :) So I purchased a cheap voice changer off of amazon, took it apart, and rewired it to work for my needs. First off I removed the trigger and wired in an on/off switch so that it could be continuously on. Next I lengthened the leads of the mic so that the speaker could be in the chest box and the mic would be up around my mouth. The box was constructed out of 1" thick high density foam.

Step 19: Mask / ​Respirator

Once I had the inner working of the voice changer where they needed to be, it was just a matter of adding additional details to the box to make it look more interesting. I placed some random wires and hoses on the box, so I could get a sense of what the finished product to look like.

Step 20: The Belt

The belt was pretty straight forward. 10mm foam was cut to length and glued to the back of a Mars logo medallion I laser cut. A foam dowel was cut in half on the band saw and glued around the logo. These same strips were glued down the length of the belt for additional detail. Nylon straps and parachute clips were added so the belt could easily be put on and taken off.

Step 21: Test Fit!

This was the first time I got to try everything on and see how it all fit together. It is important to assess the look of the entire costume as a whole before you start to paint and weather.

Step 22: Plasti Dip

Now that all of the accessories are built I can start the process of painting them and bringing them to life! That process begins by first plasti dipping all of the foam props. I prefer to spray on 2-3 light coats and wait for them to completely dry before adding any of my base coat primers.

Step 23: Base Coats of Paint

Once the Plasti Dip has fully cured I rattle can on base coats of color. In this case since pretty much everything has a metal look I went with Rustoleum Flat Antique Nickle. Notice how I didn't completely cover the pieces with paint. I varied the amount of paint being applied to give it more of a random look.

Step 24: Secondary Color

Since my character resides on the dusty red planet of Mars. I though it would be a good idea to give the recesses of the props a light coat of Krylon Rust Red Primer. Most of this will be covered up in the had painting process but It makes a huge difference having these colors down as a base.

Step 25: Weathering the Robe

The Tech Priests Robe was obviously waaaay to clean for Mars so it needed some good old fashioned weathering. The process started by spraying some Krylon black and grey primer directly onto the cloth. This gave it a sooty greasy look that I though went well with the Priest. The same Krylon Rust Red was used to slightly color the white areas around the hood, sleeves, and hem.

Once the paint had completely dried it was on to the belt sander. Slowly and deliberately I went around the robe selectively sanding some of the areas to show wear and tear. This is a process that you can easily overdo so be careful. Also be very aware of the amount of cloth near the belt sander, it is very easy to get it caught up in the spinning belt.

Step 26: Back to the Mask

The mask was primed with some tan khaki spray paint and then washed with Liquitex heavy body Mars Black. Highlights were hand painted using Liquitex heavy body Unbleached Titanium and the entire mask was clear coated with a matte varnish. Three 3v 5mm LEDs were installed on the right side of the mask, these were wired to an on/off switch and a 2302 coin battery pack. Holes were carefully drilled and more scrap wires were cut and glued into place.

Step 27: Gloves

Alright I'm building on a crazy deadline so I'm finding any shortcuts I can. The gloves were purchased from Lowes and sprayed with the exact same paints I used on the other fabricated pieces. Torn ratty cloth will be wrapped around the hands and wrists to help conceal some of the gloves design.

Step 28: Pipes!

I'm finally to the point where I can start adding all of the pipes and wires to the chest piece. This is a mix of dishwasher hoses, various cord concealers, and lots of random wires. Luckily I have a salvage place not far from me and the owner was able to give me a great deal on a bunch of junk.

Step 29: ​Assembly Before Hand Painting

Before I start hand painting all of the metallic pieces, I wanted to assemble the entire costume so that I could get a sense of highlights and shadows. Plus this allowed me to get in an impromptu photo shoot :)

Step 30: Hand Painting

Now comes my favorite part...Hand Painting! This is where I can make all of those details I have been painstakingly building look awesome. This step starts off by applying a wash of Liquitex heavy body Mars Black to each prop. Once this dries I go back with the same black, but no water, and really scrub the pigment into places that would be extremely grimy and dirty. Once that dries I start the highlight process on all of the metal bits. Using a 1" mop brush I apply thin layers of Liquitex heavy body Rich Silver to all of the highest parts of the build. This is also a step that you can overdo, so just apply a little bit at a time. You don't want to cover up all of the really cool shadows layers that have built up. A lot of attention was paid to the logos because I wanted their color change to be distinct but subtle.

Step 31: Getting Close

Getting close to the finish line regarding the hand painting...however I am not really happy with how the colors are blending together.

Step 32: Adding Additonal Colors

After some debate I decided to accent some of the details with a brass paint, it was really able to break up the look of the metal.

Step 33: Final Test Fitting

Here was the final test fit just to see how everything came together. It is really important to do a final fitting. Even from these pics I can see that are a couple of things I still need to fix before I take the finished product to DragonCon.

Step 34: Glamour Shots

All hail the Omnissiah!

I have a full photoshoot coming up at DragonCon next week and once I get new pics I will update the build thread. But for now I am pretty happy with the shots from my shop. I hope you enjoyed this build and please follow me for further awesome creations!

The construction videos are now on YouTube

You can also follow my work at:


Instagram @SKSProps and Twitter @SKSProps

You can now support my work by becoming a Patreon!

Step 35: DragonCon Pics!

I had a blast at DragonCon and people went nuts for the costume, here are some of the great shots I got while I was there.

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