Miniature Designer and Youtuber Louise Sugden Talks Warhammer and the Industry’s Roots in Nottingham

Photos: Louise Sugden
Interview: Richard Minkley
Tuesday 30 April 2024
reading time: min, words

From working at Games Workshop to amassing over 100k followers on YouTube, Louise Sugden is a hardcore Warhammer hobbyist whose miniature goblins have sold into the thousands. We sat down to discuss the art of miniature making, being a YouTube creator, and how the industry is so embedded in Nottingham.

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Normally we’d start with asking about you, but let’s talk about the real star. Who’s this goblin then?

Oooooh, that is RH-001 - The Fishing Goblin, the first miniature in my own miniature range called Rascaltown. I drew it as a fun little illustration. Then as a bit of fun, my friend Tom [Wallis], who now works with me, decided to sculpt it and I decided to paint it. We did this as like, “ha ha, wouldn't it be funny if we just made a miniature”. I then decided as a joke, to make packaging assembly instructions and turn it into a product. And then again, as a joke, we decided to sell fifty of them - and it sold out in fifteen minutes, thus birthing my drive to do more and give people more goblins!

When I look at this, I see a cheeky goblin boy. But you're an artist, miniatures painter, designer, YouTuber. What can you see that I might miss?

I think it's style. We have some rules in Rascaltown sculpting and it's ‘Give it horns, give it a nose ring and give it little spots’. But people who aren't in the miniature painting scene, kind of just see a toy. What people don't see is that it came to me as a blank canvas. Everything you see painted on it is all my own creative vision. I'm known for a very highly saturated, high contrast, almost cartoony paint job. It looks like a completely different thing when other people paint it. It's one of the reasons I really like miniature painting. You can give a hundred people that miniature and every single one of them will come up with something different.

Your journey started as a hobby before working at Games Workshop for seven years, and then you left to start your business, Rogue Hobbies. That journey is very common around Nottinghamshire.

I have a saying which is that if you throw a stone in Nottingham, you'll hit a Games Workshop employee. A stranger in Nottingham is just a Games Workshop employee you've not met yet.

It’s become a whole industry and given the name ‘The Lead Belt’, from the lead that was once used to make the miniatures…

It's just a term that people use for Nottingham. I used to live in Aberdeen and people would speak about Nottingham like it was a religious pilgrimage for the hobby. You go to Nottingham and there's not just Warhammer World but there's Warlord and they're all in the same place, so people refer to that as ‘The Lead Belt’.

There’s Mantic games, Warlord games, Wargames Foundry, Perry Miniatures…

Curtis Fell from Ramshackle Games works near me. Footsore Miniatures, they work with Curtis I believe. Bad Squiddo - that’s Annie Norman - she's one of the longest running female miniature manufacturers. Alex Huntley from Warp Miniatures, he's incredible. He's just done a gnome Kickstarter. It's a hell of an industry. I think a lot of people don't understand how good it is for Nottingham to have this industry.

You can give a hundred people that miniature and every single one of them will come up with something different.

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But it's not a Games Workshop phenomenon. There’s some combination of this place, this hobby, and these people, not all ex-Games Workshop, that makes something I struggle to describe. It’s a special kind of creativity. How would you describe it?

It's passion. It's hard to describe why miniature painting is so attractive. To me, it's meditative, it tickles my little crow brain of collecting shiny things, it's a community, it’s creative. It's just great and people love it so much. Whatever you're into, there is a miniature and a community waiting for you and it's quite friendly and nice.

Part of that passion for Games Workshop was reaching a point where you felt, ‘Now is my time. I'm leaving.’ A lot of people know that feeling. For all that's involved, that is a creative decision, as much as putting a frog on a fishing rod on a goblin. What was that like for you?

It's so hard. It felt like I was ripping myself away from a timeline where I was happy and settled and I was in the best place for me. It's almost like you're mourning for that future that could have been, that you wanted. And that's what it felt like, for me. It wasn't like there were hundreds of people going, "Oh, if Louise had their own channel, I’d definitely watch it.”

Doing YouTube was something I never planned for until I had to. It's not something you can say is gonna go well. There's no secure guaranteed income at all - that's terrifying. Then making goblins was something I never planned. And now I’m accidentally a miniature manufacturer as well. It's insane. We've sold over a thousand goblins, which is crazy, considering we only have two. It's mind blowing.

If you could go back to that earlier Louise and give her advice, what would it be?

It's almost redundant because I didn't listen to anyone else that said it, but that it was okay. I think the thing that I told myself at the time is that just because you're leaving Games Workshop doesn't mean that your love for Warhammer lessens. But now you get to do it on your own terms. Now you get to do it more. Now you get to have more fun.

What’s that thing you're saying is okay?

It's really hard to point to. As long as you work hard you can make a living for yourself. But on top of that, have some fun. Do a stupid video. People will still enjoy it. Maybe people want to hear my opinion on a space marine. I’m not very self confident, so that has been a struggle. That maybe [it’s okay] people aren't watching the channel because I'm a Games Workshop ex-employee but they're watching it because I'm Louise, the hobbyist, and that's good. I'm of value. Not just my contribution, but maybe, maybe, me.

Louise’s miniatures are available at


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