I don't have a ref for the handle at all. just made it up as I went along. The tut is a real slimed down version of this sword.
check you pm's on paint. I'll send you two tuts that I've looked at they have nice handles. also I put in a different version handle in the post immediately following the tut (second post) you might like that one better.
I've been meaning to make that leather handle but just can't decide on what to try it out on. not another sword for sure. I was thinking it would make some sort of impressive abstract, with OMA style modifications of course. LOL!
yes absolutely paint.net. I did do a simplified tut on the sword for advanced beginners level. Its fairly close looking to this one . If you have any experience at paint.net you should be able to elaborate on the tut, to suit your own style and tastes. also the second post of the tut I've listed aditional tips and some variations.