Hobby Blog: Painting Plasma Weapons


Getting a squad of Primaris Hellblasters has given me an excuse to play with some plasma glow effects. I’ve previously used drybrushing over the raised coils to get this effect, and it’s a quick, easy way to do things, perfect for beginners getting the hang of lighting effects. It can, however, leave a chalky finish. Impressive glow effects can be done with an airbrush but since I don’t have one of those, I’m keeping the hairy stick approach.

Other Options

First off, I checked out the Warhammer TV approach. I found this okay and easy to follow, but I felt it gave too strong a contrast between the coils and it was very easy to make mistakes, mostly overstepping from raised coils into recesses.

The Approach

After trying a few things, I settled on focusing the brightest glow around the centre of the weapon in an ellipse – white at the centre, moving into darker blue towards the edges. Provided you thin your paints (absolutely essential, otherwise you’ll get stark transitions between colours), this is quick and easy to do, and you don’t need to be too tidy. In all steps, make sure you get your paint into the recesses between coils. This is what we’re aiming for:


Step 1: Base Coat

Start by base coating the plasma coils in Vallejo Magic Blue (GW Teclis Blue). It works best over white (this will be brighter) but I went over Caliban Green as that’s what I’d used as a primer.


Step 2: Outer Ellipse

Using Vallejo Electric Blue (GW Lothern Blue), paint a wide ellipse across all the coils. The top edge is your mid-point so half your ellipse should be on the front and half on top. Do the same on both sides of the weapon so that the outer edges of the ellipses should almost touch in the middle on top of the weapon.


Step 3: First Highlight

Mixing Vallejo Electric Blue (GW Lothern Blue) with white (any brand will do), paint a smaller ellipse within the outer ellipse described in step 2.


Step 4: Final Highlight

Paint a thin line of white along the top edge of the plasma coils. When you get to the centre of the ellipses, widen your line just a touch so it looks like the source of the light comes from here.


Step 5: Tidy Up

If any of your transitions between colours look too stark (like above where I overstepped with the white), use a very thin layer of paint (about 70% water) to smooth them out.



Another option is to move the ellipses along the plasma coil. In the below example, I painted them nearer the barrel to give an impression of movement, as though a shot was leaving the weapon.


Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions, refinements or if you have alternative methods of achieving a plasma glow.

Want to support the blog? You can pick up my fantasy short read, Mysticarium, for your Kindle or buy yourself some gaming goodies from Element Games and I’ll get a little kickback. Or you can always support through ko-fi.

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