Realistic Lightning

How would you suggest going about creating a realistic lightning bolt? Also, would there be a way to arrange lamps down the bolt to give it realistic lighting?

I don’t know if this is how other people would do it but I would do it similar to building a low poly tree. I would cut out the lightning bolt from a picture or create your own in GIMPshop then map it to a single plane. Make sure it’s facing the camera at all times. Up side to doing this is that you can scale it to fit your scene as well or have multiple types of lightning bolts if you are doing an animation. Downside, I dunno just kinda throwing this out off the top of my head. Anyone else with a suggestion on how to make one?

If you don’t mind having no control over what it looks like, then just have a row of edges defining the start and end points, fractical subdivide it with different levels of randomness, assign halo materials to it and there you go!

(hope that made sense!)

You could try with particles. See for reference.