Videos: Blacksmiths Making Videogame Swords

So how about you and I don’t tell Graham that I spent a chunk of this morning watching blacksmiths on YouTube as they forged weaponry from videogames, yeah?

It all started with this marketing thingummy from BioWare where they got a local blacksmith called Shawn Cunningham to forge a real life version of the Inquisition Longsword from the Dragon Age-iverse.

I mean, yeah, it’s marketing. It’s about eyeballs on a thing that’s referencing a game. Also it looks like they’ve added some post-production to one of the spark bits so it looks more… mystical? But aside from that, I find smithing – and indeed anything involving a furnace – fascinating. I think it comes from having visited a lot of glass-blowing workshops as a child (don’t ask) and the magic of seeing this familiar material become molten and malleable.

There’s a mixture of the fantastical and the scientific in the process – grey powders that turn things a brilliant green or the act of plunging a red spear into an oil quench and it somehow becoming better for it. You can read up on the science of why that works or leave it as this mysterious metallurgy magic. I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I follow it up to a point because I’ve read up on some of the techniques but once I reach the limits of that I just let the terminology wash over me and watch the thing come into being.

Which is how I then ended up watching Tony Swatton making these glaives of Illidan’s from World Of Warcraft. My own interest in Illidan only really resurfaces when I’m imagining him as a WWE wrestler so the lore bit is when I ate a tangerine and put my hair up but the rest is really interesting. You go from rough outlines to sort of hammer-embossing to chiselling to a section involving an edge that can cut you to the bone if you mess up.


You can then use the warglaive to carve a roast.

Then the Man At Arms team have a crack at forging Master Yi’s Ring Sword from League of Legends. This one has a cool section about bronze casting the rings for the sword but also a bit on the complications of working out how the real version of something should look like when you’re working from the public game assets. The Men At Arms team are well-known online so this was the video I’d seen before but I might spend lunchtime digging around in their back catalogue to see a bit more:

But, like I say, let’s keep this between us, yeah? SHHHHHH.

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  1. Ross Angus says:

    The Blizzard video has a bit where they test the sword out by cutting up some champagne flutes full of green glitter.

    I suspect the art director’s heart was elsewhere.

  2. Amstrad says:

    Tony Swatton did a total of four WoW weapons last time I checked, all of the videos are worth watching. He was also the original Man At Arms guy before the current Reforged team took over and did a bunch of video game/comics/etc swords then too.

    Also, if you’re the kind of person who really likes this blacksmith thing, I can’t recommend the History Channel’s TV show Forged in Fire, the third season has just started and its basically like Chopped or Iron Chef, but for knives and various swords/axes/etc.

    • Amstrad says:

      Can’t recommend it enough that is.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Oooh, have to check that out. There’s something oddly compelling to blacksmithing – as Pip notes there’s that weird alchemical magic kicking off, a bit of latent pyromania, and I think an innate human satisfaction of “making tools with your hands” (or watching far more skilled hands do it).

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    I don’t get the point of the enormous guard on the swords. Is that supposed to look cool? If you’re going to have a silly-looking impractical toy, it should be a plastic dealie you can at least hit people with at comic con.

    In terms of fictional swords that actually got made, I’ve always like the WoT heron mark sword. Simple, pretty, and a crucial part of the story.

  4. Greg Wild says:

    What a waste of good chicken.

  5. MiniMatt says:

    Oooh I too fell down a that rabbit hole a while back (tho minus the game connection) – link to have some lovely (and very well shot) videos – eg.making a carpenters axe at link to

  6. edwardoka says:

    “watching blacksmiths on YouTube as they forged weaponry from videogames”
    I’d have thought that steel would be a more suitable material than videogames for weaponsmithing…

    (Sorry, Pip.)

  7. TalorcE says:

    How did we miss michaelcthulhu?!? He drinks tea and has an Irish accent, this is massively on brand for RPS.

  8. C0llic says:

    On a tangentially related note, anyone who likes this sort of thing should watch link to “LET ME SHOW ITS FEATURES”

    He’s basically a very Jolly German man who makes ridiculous slingshots and home-made air rifles. The heavy weapons guy made flesh, if he happened to hail from Germany.

  9. RobotsForBreakfast says:

    I’m a blacksmith, and you would not believe the number of times I’ve been shown these sorts of videos/asked if I make/would consider making things like this.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Ooooh! I’m guessing the answer is “yes, but I’ll not be doing it for the price you have in your head”.

      I suppose I’m always curious why the answer to how to best make video game swords isn’t just “stick the original Blender art files into the CNC machine” – ie. hand forging, hardening & tempering, careful forge welding of different strength alloys, all seems to make no sense for a purely decorative item.

      • RobotsForBreakfast says:

        Haha, well I think you kinda answered your own question there – blacksmiths don’t typically like fabricating. If you want a fabricated art piece, you call a fabricator. That said, a lot of these shows that I’ve seen DO cut a lot of corners (har har) by CNCing or otherwise machining instead of/before forging. Now, for production work I wouldn’t call that cheating, because we’ve all gotta make money, and swallowing pride doesn’t fill you up much. But it always surprises me just how MUCH fabricating there is in these shows when I would have guessed that the craft itself is as much the focus as is the product.

        Anyway, my usual answer to requests for swords is, to quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, “You couldn’t afford it.”

  10. Oblivion4568238 says:

    “My own interest in Illidan only really resurfaces when I’m imagining him as a WWE wrestler”

    Boy have I got something exciting to show you! link to

  11. dee says:

    what’s with having visited all those glass-blowing workshops as a child

  12. mavu says:

    Late to the party, but I’m pretty sure you will enjoy this too:

    [youtube link to

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