What happens if you combine a background in the film industry, and a great personality? You get MS_Paints. The channel existed for some time but, in March of 2020, it gained a hobby-related direction. In the beginning, the content focused on painting tutorials. But, over time the videos gained in quality and shifted to a more entertaining approach. At the core, it is still about one man’s modeling and miniature painting journey. There are other channels that do the same, but only one of them has Dave as a host. With a down-to-earth attitude, witty commentary, and a moderate amount of swearing. He keeps his videos real, easy to follow, and visually appealing.
We follow Dave as he’s learning to paint models, tries new things to see what works, and improves on his videos. That’s part of what makes his works so relatable. We can compare to a wholesome documentary about a guy enjoying his hobby. It can bring a sense of nostalgia to more seasoned painters while encouraging newer hobbyists to keep on painting. The struggle is real, and even when you don’t nail it you still learn from it.
About The Art
When discussing Dave’s paintworks we have to keep in mind that he makes videos about his hobby experience. He doesn’t paint commissions for a living nor does he paint at Golden Demon level, yet. He’s your average guy painting for fun. All while having Multiple Sclerosis disease. That doesn’t stop him from improving and getting better with every new video. If we had to sum up his painting style it would be “good”. His models look good on the gaming table and will compliment any shelf. It’s an achievable level that doesn’t take half a decade of constant painting to achieve. But one place where he excels is basing and terrain building. Combining commonly available items he can make a fitting base for any model. The same can be said about his dioramas.
We can’t talk about his art without mentioning his videos. His background in filming can clearly be seen even in his first videos. While the camera quality wasn’t the best, the shot composition and camera angles were on point. As time went on his setup improved along with his video production. If at the beginning he was an average blogger with camera skills, right now he’s a skilled editor that can put some major productions to shame. The skits that he puts in his videos are an art form on their own. Rather than talking about them, it’s best to watch them for yourself.
– How would you describe what you do for people who might not know about you?
– MS Paints is a down-to-earth Youtube Channel aimed mostly at bringing the miniature painting back to an attainable level. It’s about making stuff you’ve never done before, trying new things, and being happy with the results. I’ve heard it described as Mr. Rogers with swearing and frogs.
We aim to make everything accessible and real. We started out as a channel to teach and encourage painting for folks with additional needs. I myself survive daily with Multiple Sclerosis – which doesn’t do me any favors in the miniature painting field, so even though I don’t understand the differences in everyone, I like to think MS Paints encourages differently abled persons to pick the brush back up and take a shot at the hobby.
– Did you improve your painting as a result of making tutorials?
– Yeah I’d say so. I’m painting a lot more at home now to keep learning new things. I think it’s a mixture of getting better at painting, but also happier at painting. I’m a little too old to ever be a Golden Demon winner. I don’t think I started early enough. And I’m totally at peace with potentially being unable to hold a brush steady enough down the line.
– How did the process of making a video change over the years?
– Well into our second year with the channel now and that’s probably been the biggest change. My first videos were all shot on GoPro and pretty much just nuts and bolts tutorials. But then invested in a grown-up camera, the Canon M50, which is an amazing tool when paired up with some good glass. At the end of last year, I took another jump and invested in a Sony A7iii and some vintage photography lenses.
I do more animation and scripted segments these days too. I figure since I own a small film company I should put more of the resources to good use. There’s a lot of stuff that takes time. Any videos with Health & Safety Frog – his segments alone can take a day to do.
But it’s all good and all part of learning. I’ve probably learned more about making good videos and stories than I have about miniatures painting.
– What would be the most important lessons you learned as a content maker?
– Still learning! I know there are certain things I can do for more clicks and faster growth but I don’t especially want to do that. The main guiding principle of the channel needs to still be there.
If anything I’ve learned there isn’t time to do everything. I have no idea how the bigger channels manage it. It’s constant. Discord community, marketing, emails, offers, statistics, getting enough personal time, and that’s before I even make models and videos.
– How did you decide to become a content creator?
– COVID, innit? My work as a film composer was trailing off anyway and contacts dried up and pretty much every project between feature films was a miserable experience. COVID pretty much cleared my calendar for a year so I decided to try something new. I was going to use the time to train myself in camera and graphics, and the channel seemed like the best way to experiment with all that. So along with the channel, I’m a shooter for my company.
– Do you have a team for your videos or are you solo?
– Solo for the most part. If we do any sketches and I’m in front of the camera and the camera’s moving, usually my business partner Michael is doing it. Otherwise, I make, film, edit and release everything myself.
– How long does it take to make a video for a project?
– Anywhere between 3 to 10 days. Making something takes the longest time, filming pieces to camera, scripting, editing, sound mixing, etc. takes up the rest of the time. I’m trying to get better at doing multiple things at once. If I can record and produce a project that only takes a day, I’ll do that while something is drying.
– MS Paints is aimed at hobbyists with additional needs, do you cater your project scope to that, or do you make what you want?
– I make a brief that I want, and try to cater it to that, yeah. It’s not all laser-guided toward differently-abled people, though. I’ve found that if they see me trying something, and I’m limited in ability they feel confident enough to try it. And that’s probably the best result we can get. I think more than any other channel we take out the pretension. You don’t need to be the best painter to be happy with something.
– What’s with the Frog?
– Hector’s my main man. Hang’s out in the studio all day with me and usually goes everywhere with me as well. I picked him up from a shop a few years ago because I thought he looked sad. He’s not sad anymore though. He’s got a cool t-shirt and a wicked blue toy truck.
In all seriousness, I saw a lot of channels that had a wanky big boys no soft shit vibe with an attitude I didn’t dig. Hector is part of countering that vibe. My main demographic grew up on Sesame Street and Jim Henson, practical effects, puppets, movie monsters, all that good stuff. He’s a throwback to that but also it’s a grown man having conversations with a cuddly frog and other puppets, in between teaching attainable miniature painting. It’s very much the anti-big leagues of Warhammer channels.
– Your content has changed from straight tutorials to more entertaining videos. What motivated the shift?
– Tutorials are great, we all use them, but the channel growth is slow. Eyeball another channel called 52 Miniatures – he’s doing a similar thing where he’s introducing visual effects and amazing camera work to bring a new flavor to the party.
I figured I should play to my strengths, and that’s what direction we’re going in. Humour, stories, and VFX.
– What’s the rest of the year looking like for MS Paints? What projects do you have lined up?
Too many! I’m going to crack open my sealed Gorkamorka at some point and run some battle reports, tutorials, and fun stuff around that. I’ve got VFX for a kid’s tv show coming up, recreating the old Star Wars tricks from the 70s, stuff like that. Along with more Gateway Games – taking a look at smaller indie games to see what they offer for folks who want a change from Warhammer – and a shed load of tutorials to go along with it.
Find MS_Paints on
If you want to learn more about Dave’s life with MS diagnosis, we recommend reading his interview with Tabletop Gaming.