Paper Minis!

Posted on August 31, 2017 by


Everyone loves their minis. Everyone loves having a unique mini that represents their character, or in the case of DMs, that represents the monsters that the PCs will ultimately face. Even back in the old days, when I was a player in 1e or 2e games, we had minis there to represent marching order and have a visualization of our characters.

Over time as a DM I’ve gone back and forth between minis and tokens, with the latter being a popular option for many DMs who just didn’t have the budget to invest in a mini collection. In the 4e days of yore, I built myself a pretty impressive token collection, using metal washers and art found online. It was cheap and effective–with an emphasis on cheap.

Tokens are a very effective way to represent characters at the table

But there are many players and DMs out there who are spoiled rotten by the pretty minis, and can’t fathom playing D&D without them. Pennies or tokens won’t do! NO! It has to be the plastic crack put out by Wizards, Paizo, and Reaper, or it just won’t do.

Well, I’m here today to ask you to give up your pre-painted mini snobbery and embrace paper minis!

Goblins from Trash Mob Minis

I’ve recently jumped into the world of paper minis, and discovered that not only can they look great, but they can also be chock full of personality, and can add a completely different feel to your game, depending on the art you choose to use.

There are also a ton of free resources out there for paper minis, ranging from very basic line art, to finely crafted art like the ones pictured above.

The goblins pictured above come from a publisher named Trash Mob Minis. They sell various PDFs of different PC and monster types, ranging from $2-$4 in price. The frog like grungs, found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters, come from a Tumblr blog named Printable Heroes, with tons of great looking paper minis.

So here’s what I’ve been doing. I print them out  on cardstock, and laminate them with packing tape. That way, my Cheetos-stained fingers won’t ruin the paper that they’re printed on. It makes the paper mini durable and reusable–print them once, and keep forever.

I’ve experimented with various stands, and can tell you right now that my favorite solution has been binder clips. They come in different sizes, and you can fit varying sizes of paper minis on them. These minis pictured above are on the small sized clips, and fit easily on the 1″ square found on gaming grids.

I bought a pack of Litko paper mini bases, but I’m hesitant to recommend them. It’s not that they are bad, but I find that the minis are more secure on the binder clips.

If you’re a bit snobbish about the mini size in relation to other minis on the table, then be warned… the binder clips can make the minis taller. I’m of the philosophy of “who cares?”. The art is too damn cute.

Now, there’s also the option of creating your own paper minis, and customizing how plain or not you want them. It could be as simple as slapping an image off the internet on a 1″ square and printing it off, nothing wrong with that. Just fire up your Gimp, Photoshop, Pixelmator, or whatever other image editor you use and get to it. I’ve experimented with that too.

Axe Beaks (Large sized creature) printed on a 2×2 square

Human tribal warriors printed on a 1″ wide paper and placed on Litko paper mini stands

So you see, there are many routes you can take with paper minis, but in my opinion using art designed for and made by paper mini artists is the nicer way to go, but there’s certainly no wrong way to do it. If you search on Patreon, for example, you can find many creators on that platform putting out high quality paper minis.

Here is a google drive filled with FREE paper minis, to get you started. This comes courtesy of Printable Heroes.

Even if you would never, ever, ever, consider going this route, I challenge you to give it a shot. Storing, transporting, and acquiring paper minis (read: $$$) is easier than with plastic crack, and well, again, they can be so damn cute. 🙂

Leave a comment below if you have any good sources for paper minis, I’d love to have a lot of links of where to find stuff.

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