Last Updated on January 26, 2023
Whether you’re looking to create a jaw-dropping centerpiece for your campaign’s boss fight or run more tactical combat encounters, miniatures on terrain can be a valuable tool for making Dungeons & Dragons 5e (not to mention other tabletop games, my dear Pathfinder converts) run more smoothly and be more immersive.
Of course, one of the most satisfying (but potentially frustrating) aspects of playing tabletop games with miniatures is getting them painted. As tricky and expensive as it can be, however, the pros of a dungeon filled with even passably painted minis far outweigh the cons (time, money, and self-hatred).
For me, mini painting actually became a remarkably zen-like, meditative process — once I stopped bursting into tears over the crushing realization that no amount of airbrushing, expensive models, and Nuln Oil will ever make me a good painter. At least my table looks cooler than when it was just a pile of PVA glue-smeared cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, and regret.
So, if you’re a player who wants to see their very own D&D character on the table or a game master looking to upgrade their stockpile of monsters, NPCs, and terrain, here are four great YouTube channels to inspire you, teach you the basics, and even take your hobby to the next level.
QUICK DISCLAIMER: There are plenty of other amazing channels and mini painters out there (like The Duncan Rhodes Painting Academy, EonsOfBattle, and Lyla Mev), not to mention individual videos on getting started with painting by non-painting-exclusive channels like Geek & Sundry or WASD20. For this guide, however, I wanted to stick to recommending channels that are mini-painting focused and that I’m personally subscribed to — for what little weight that seal of approval carries.
Although most of his videos focus on painting entire armies for tabletop wargames (like Warhammer Fantasy), Brent from Goobertown Hobbies also has loads of great advice that translates into painting for D&D. Notably, he’ll teach you how to paint minis quickly but still get them looking as good as possible. This is perfect if you’re a GM trying to get the entire contents of a dungeon ready for game night.
His calm demeanor puts me in mind of the Bob Ross of mini painting, and both the editing and writing of his videos are top-notch.
One of the biggest names in the mini-painting space, Squidmar Miniatures is mostly focused on Warhammer properties. Unlike Goobertown Hobbies, however, this channel is all about huge dioramas, competition-grade paint jobs on huge minis, and advanced techniques. If you want a bunch of great advice on how to get that Ancient Red Dragon ready for the end of your campaign, this is the channel to do it with.
That’s not to say everything that Squidmar puts up is ultra-professional and unattainable. He also has a few great beginner’s tips videos, not to mention advice on building terrain (like the DIY fantasy village video below, which has all the templates available for free in the video description), advice on equipment to buy, and reviews of various paints.
All in all, it’s a very varied channel and something I keep coming back to for different reasons as I get deeper into the hobby.
Any hobby channel that exposes its viewers to the brand-new sentence “Check out this nut jar. The top and bottom have an ideal bulbous taper for wizard architecture” is worth a sub in my opinion. In addition to truly god-tier editing, sound design, and other quality-of-life concerns, Studson Studio is the kind of channel that will make you want to quit your job and make lovingly crafted replicas of your favorite vehicles, buildings, and monsters from Nintendo, Studio Ghibli, and other properties.
Also, most of what he makes is done with trash, hot glue, and a seemingly endless supply of imagination.
If you’re a dungeon master who wants to see just how beautiful piles of instant ramen pots, cereal boxes, and insulation foam can become, this is the channel to teach you that the only limit is your imagination… oh, and talent, a ton of experience, and time that you currently waste on your stupid data entry job.
Bill Makes Stuff
Hobby crafting and miniature painting have a reputation for being financially crippling hobbies — even more so than D&D if you can believe it. Of course, that’s just a matter of opinion and how much of your cat’s emergency vet fund you’re willing to spend on hand-painted artisanal dice. But I digress.
Bill Makes Stuff is a channel that makes me want to go get armpit deep in my recycling bin and make some freaking monsters. It’s a channel that puts a heavy emphasis on scrappy (literally) can-do attitude (well, more philosophy than attitude; Bill himself is a miserable bastard with only a cat’s face glued to a cardboard tube for a friend) and imagination.
Also, the channel absolutely takes the cake for aesthetic, production value, and all-around vibes. The process is good too, with Bill taking you through his design process in addition to the building steps. He also does content on both miniatures and terrain, which is nice.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.