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Creating Lightning with Particles


LightningFalgor explains how to create a convincing lightning effect by guiding a particle system along a curve guide and working on the particles' materials.

This tutorial was already mentioned in the Community Journal #3 but I think it deserves some extra attention. You'll find it on Falgor's website.

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. Sweet! i've been wondering how lightning would be done within Blender for a while now, thanks for pointing it out B@rt! :)

  2. Thanks for this tutorial! It was really good.

    I added a small bit - made the cloud texture affect the normal of the cloud plane too. Made the lighting look even more realistic, I think, since it makes the clouds look more 3-dimensional.


  3. I've played a bit with this tutorial because I was thinking about how to realistically animate this. It turned out to be quite easy: add a properly sized lattice to the scene and parent the curve guide to it. Then, in editmove shift around the vertices and insert lattice keyframes. Make it nice and while, but keep the start- and endpoints fixed.

  4. for animation purposes, would it be more seemingly plausible to animate a fixed vertice along the curve guide with a simple particle effect to it, then quickly go from start to finish of the curve guide (though, i guess we'd be talking more along the lines of paths than modelling a particle flow with a curve guide) but with a long enough lifetime, the "died" function turned and some simple keyframed halo textures, i think you could make some pretty spot-on animated lightning

  5. and perhaps additive curve guides to the static images, to create that sharp arc, it would also allow i assume the ability to create multiple spikes of the lightning, i don't mean to take up so much space with my thoughts, and these are untested theories, but in a community such as blenders ideas should always be shared i feel, anyone willing to test any of my BS is welcome to show results, i may have to start on it in a couple days when i've the free time

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