Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Paint Power Weapons a.k.a. Reinventing the Wheel [Update]

Updated with better painted swords.  When I saw the Nemesis Greatsword in the Grey Knights codex I was in awe.  If you were like me you wanted the same effect on your power weapons.

Here are several ways to paint power weapons.

*Note: Stipple, Drybrush and painted versions will be redone.  Frankly they are disappointing.
**Above power swords on left are redone and much better.  I should do a blooper reel blog post someday.

As always giving credit where it is due.  Les at Awesome Paint dot com has a video about using an airbrush on a 13th Company Space Wolves.  Specifically how he painted the Power Sword.  I've been drooling over that video for several weeks now.

I want to start this post off with an extremely useful piece of information.  In fact I firmly believe if this tip is applied you'll reduce the stress of painting your power weapons by at least 90%.

When painting power weapons Do Not Glue them to the model.  Only glue them to the model after you're done with the weapon.  It will save you time, frustration and more importantly your sanity.

As Mr Levinstein says "See, it's like, uh, practice for the big game."  Had some free time on my hand and wanted to be familiar with how I would paint the Purifiers halberds blades.

Airbrush version.

Vallejo Model Air White.

Ok this was a huge mistake.  Used Comart Violet Transparent airbrush paint.  Too watery.  Headed to The Source to pick up paints that were designed to work.

Vallejo Model Air Yellow.

Vallejo Model Air Scarlet Red.

Thinned Citadel Xereus Purple.

Thinned Citadel Abaddon Black.

Not too bad.  I was a bit surprised when I pulled off the painters tape not seeing white.  Then I remembered I put the tape on before painting white.

Ready for the last part.

Unpainted parts received Evil Sunz Scarlet and Lightning Blue respectively.

Grey Knights Nemesis Greatsword and Power Swords.

Since I was going to paint power weapons four different ways figured I'd show different ways to paint basecoat white.  Left Mat White and water 1:1.  Centre Skull White pulled from pot.  Right airbrushed Vallejo Model Air White.  This is the first coat.  As you can see the the 1:1 white provides an even basecoat but needs work.  Middle pulled from pot leaves much to be desired.  It is solid where it needs to be and isn't where it should.  Airbrush provides an even smooth finish needing no touch up.

Second basecoat.  Finally getting the desired white.  Left thinned 1:1 is balanced and even like Right airbrush.  Middle pulled from pot looks better with room for improvement.  Since another colour will be added on the middle blade won't basecoat it further.

All blades ready to go.

These tapes can be placed on a painted surface without removing paint.  Both tapes were purchased from Blick.  Right tape, blue tape, can be purchase from any DIY, Do It Yourself, store i.e. Home Depot.

Half of blade covered in tape so painting doesn't affect other side.

Nemesis Greatsword airbrushed.
Airbrushed.  Vallejo Model Air Metallic Artic Blue then thinned Abaddon Black for middle of blue.

Stipple version.

Tap the brush to remove excess paint.

Two thirds of the blade Blazing Orange

Bottom third Evil Sunz Scarlet.

New pic.  Much better.

Best thing about using painters tape is know where to paint the appropriate colour.  Flip the tape around and you know where to stipple the red, orange and yellow.

Redone blade on left.  Much cleaner and far better looking.

Drybrushing time.

Rub the blade of the brush over the edges so the Mat white stands out.


Standard drybrushing.  Move the brush in perpendicular directions.  Redone blade left.  This should also be cleaner.

When drybrushing you can use different colours to make the effect.  Base Caliban Green and drybrushed Ice Blue.

Standard painting.

Dipped brush in water then pulled Liche Purple.  Building from the hilt up the sword.

Army Painter Mat Black again building up and down into the purple.

Cleaned up middle with Army Painters Mat White.

Done.  Little cleaner, little better.  I kind of like the right blade more than the left.

Collection of blades.  Left power swords are redone blades.

slainte mhath


  1. I think I like the airbrushed versions the best, just my personal taste.

    1. I don't blame you. They are the cleanest of the bunch. I'm actually disappointed with myself for not putting more time in other versions. I should redo them with real effort so they don't look like crap.

  2. When the blades were just white with some overspray, they actually looked pretty awesome. I have never seen anyone just do glowing white power weapons before, if you did the local lighting effects on the hilt, arm and side of the model, I think they would look really sharp. It's neither in my color scheme nor in my ability level, but you should give it a go.

    1. Spellduckwrong, been trying to understand which pic you're referring to. So far haven't figured it out. Can you describe the lightning effect a little more please?

  3. My apologies, apparently I was being unclear. The picture I was referring to was the one that is captioned "All blades ready to go". There currently is not a lighting effect on the swords as pictured but the overspray from the white base coat was enough to make my mind work a bit. I was suggesting in my previous post that you should give a go at painting some object source light (the technical term I believe) effects caused by a glowing white power sword. Mostly, I just want to see it because I haven't ever seen them in just white, there is nearly always a color to the blade.

    1. Spellduckwrong, I think I'm on the same page.

      Are you suggesting to paint lightning on the blade then lightly airbrush it white? Or perhaps paint lightning on the blade so it looks like its glowing?

      Took me far too long to understand what you meant by white power weapons. I agree, you don't see them very often. Really like white power weapons.

    2. Fairly sure he means: at the stage the swords are primed white but not yet painted, the blades could be left white so as to appear to be glowing white swords (which he and I have never seen before, but admittedly look cool) and you could then sell the effect by using object source lighting effects on the model carrying to blade, so they don't just look unpainted, but rather are being glowed upon by the powerblade.

      p.s. just stumbled across your blog today... long time wargamer and converter (15 yrs on and off) but only just getting into painting my stuff (and aiming to get quality finishes on my models) - some of your techniques are really interesting, keep up the good work.

    3. Syra, ah. I think I understand. Leave the blade white and paint object source lighting on the model bearing the sword. The blue armour would have a white/blue hue because of the white glow from the blade? I can see that happening.

      Welcome to H2Lat40K, Syra. Great to hear you'll be tackling the task of painting your models. Thanks for the kind words.

    4. Thank you Syra, for saving me. I guess that idea was exceptionally difficult for me to convey. But yes, that is exactly what I mean.

    5. I take at least 50% of the fault for not thinking more about OSL. I can see that working extremely well, Spellduckwrong. I think I'll do that with my Dreadknights. You're getting all the credit, Spellduckwrong.

    6. No problem. Thankfully, Syra was there to save the day. I can't wait to see that! It could look amazing on a Dreadknight.

  4. I love your blog. This is a cool site and I wanted to post a little note to tell you, good job! Best wishes!!!


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