Sunday, 22 January 2017

Painting a Power Sword With Lightning Effects

I have been desperately trying to get my Flesh Tearers Death Company finished of recent times and finally found some time recently. I left the power sword and power axe until the very last purely because I didn't really know how to paint them.

After much consideration I thought i'd give it a go and try for a lightning look. I did some research online but although I found quite a few tutorials, there weren't really any I liked or that I thought looked good.

After reading many of the techniques I gave it a go myself and here is the finished look:

Even though I am not completely happy with the results here is how I did it...

1. Start from your basecoat

Paint the power sword entirely with a deep blue colour. I used Mordian Blue (Macragge Blue)

2. Paint a checkered pattern on the power sword. I found this in one tutorial online and I thought that it would add depth to the sword and provide a focus for the lightning to travel down the sword.
Make sure to use a lighter blue colour and really thin the paint down. Paint 2-3 coats if necessary and note that it doesn't need to be a really contrasting blue or it will detract from the lightning later on. I used Enchanted blue (Caledor Sky) for this step.

3. Paint the lightning on the sword. Use a light blue and a steady hand for this bit. I used Ice Blue (Lothern Blue) for this. Make sure to paint zig zag lines travelling down the length of the sword with more lines near the power source and less towards the end of the sword (I prefer the inside of the sword on the model I painted as the patterns are better and more lightning like - Typical!!!) Try to get the lightning moving towards the lighter blue checks on the sword as this will help the overall effect.
Also when the lightning lines hit the edges of the sword add a small line travelling down the edge as the lightning wouldn't just stop!

4. Add some white to highlight the power of the lightning. Make sure to only add small amounts of white near the power source, in the junctions where the lightning splits and where the lightning hits the edge of the sword.

5. Done!! Sit back and admire your work!! Again I am not happy with the outside of my power sword but really happy with the inside (the one you can't see on the table - Gah!). The patterns seem much better and more realistic but hey ho - you live and learn!!!

6. One final note - I also have a power axe in the squad and tried the same technique out of interest. It came out ok so here are the results:


Please let me know what you think good or bad, and point me in the right direction for any other tutorials that have worked for you.
Also show me your results!
All the best

James – A blog about Warhammer 40k and the Horus Heresy by four Dads


  1. I think it's great, but if you start with a darker blue, perhaps Kantor Blue and either blend or wash the darker blue for the half nearest the hilt, then the lightning will contrast better!? Great job anyway.

    1. That's definitely a good idea and worth trying I think. I did consider glazing in the highlights and the ice blue but wanted to see how this went first. Will probably try your point on my next power sword.

    2. I think Siph is right, the darker the background to the blue the more contrast you get.

      Also, lightning tends to have a single element that goes almost directly from source to the strike point, perhaps the reason you're not so keen on the outer edge of the blade is because this side of the sword doesn't have that clear path. I think if you emphasised, and perhaps added an element to provide that central link then it might improve things?

    3. I think you're absolutely right Nick. The lightning diverts too much whereas on the inside it has a straighter path. I think it's because I did the outside first, realised and then improved the inside. Always learning!!

  2. Great work on the sword and putting together the tutorial. Painting a power weapon can be tricky, and as you learned, takes some practice. One way to smooth out the blues is to hit it was a blue glaze, the retouch the lightning with white.

    1. Thanks Joe, I think i'll try that on my next one. I also may have a go at using different colours at some point, such as green or orange/red.

  3. Some nice ideas there, thanks for writing it up and sharing it.

  4. Doing the checks on the basecoat is something I'd never seen before I'm gonna have to give that a try next time I do something like this. It really helps give it the right feel.