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I used to think a lightsaber blade is shaped like a cylinder of uniform diameter, much like the film props representing them.

However, once in a while I come across a scene from the Original Trilogy where a close up of the blade shows it being thin and narrowing down even more towards the tip quite sharply. I just saw it in the Bespin fight, and I'm pretty sure it was also the case in the fight between Vader and Obi Wan in ANH. It is actually quite like the shape of the blades in Rebels. I had dismissed Rebels lightsaber shape to be a matter of art style, but I just connected the dots and realised the similarity is quite uncanny.

What is the real shape of lightsaber blades?

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The blades are supposed to be rounded as seen in the later films

The narrowing that you see in ANH is due to the rotoscoping effects used to create the lightsabers and is merely a limit of the technology of the time as this was done manually in the 70s and 80s.

The CGI created lightsabers of the prequels and The Force Awakens will be representative of the intended shape. Allowing them to round out the tips and maintain a uniform shape.

One reason that rotoscoping was harder for the OT is the "sticks" used to fight with were much smaller in

The OT

ESB Pre rotoscoping

Compared to the subsequent films

Windu and Palpatine pre rotoscope

Giving less area to "paint" with the rotoscoping

It is a bit long but this video explains the evolution of the lightsaber

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    Palpatine sure looks much less scarier there. Suddenly Nick Fury looks like he's the one who should be sending the other flying through the sky. – thegreatjedi Jan 19 '16 at 16:39
  • How does that give you less area to paint? When rotoscoping, the source footage is merely reference. There's no reason not to paint the saber blade thicker than the stick if you feel it looks better. – user45623 Jan 19 '16 at 21:09
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    @user45623 I only meant on the tip, in the OT they had lights shining onto shiny material coating the sticks to help pick it up when rotoscoping. The tips, being smaller, had less of this and would be harder to pick up. In some scenes it appears (to me) as though only this shiny material is showing and no actual rotoscoping has taken place. – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 19 '16 at 21:16

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