For the last couple of weeks, whenever I’ve been at my desk and not actively writing or researching, I’ve had a Drawfee video on a secondary monitor. “We turn dumb ideas into even dumber drawings!” boasts the tagline. I’m obsessed with this channel, which is weird because I’m not an artist in any visual sense.
But there’s something very comforting about watching someone else go through the process of drawing, even if it’s detached through the medium of YouTube. It helps that the Drawfee team, made up of members of the now-defunct Dorkly and CollegeHumor sites, have the comedy and pop culture chops to keep podcast-style banter entertaining.
Here’s the setup: every show, the main hosts Jacob, Nathan, and Julia draw three sketches, taking about 10 minutes each. What they draw shifts with each episode, but it’s usually focused on some kind of pop culture, like “drawing Pokemon from memory” or “drawing our home states.” Shows are often based on recent releases (the latest movies and video games typically get a dedicated episode), and ideas for prompts are frequently farmed from audience comments.
Be aware: while the images themselves are pretty tame, the discussion is often very much Not Safe For Work. You probably don’t want to watch a new episode if you have young kids in the room.
A rotating pool of guests and a few entertaining one-offs keeps things fresh. At the end of the episode, you get to see the sketches fully colored and shaded, as the artists finalize things after recording. And, as a sign-off, each one says “we’re sorry.” Which is considerate—sometimes, the things they create as a response to the prompts do indeed warrant an apology.
Drawfee has the appeal of a podcast with hosts that have natural chemistry and camaraderie, with an appealing visual component and a developing culture all its own. There are mini-series within the show’s 6-year history—the aforementioned and frequently creepy Pokemon videos, a collection of intentionally terrible RPG characters, and a hilarious 4-year-long, increasingly loose Dungeons & Dragons campaign where the artists are challenged to draw their characters and solutions.
I should mention that the show usually isn’t displaying the artists’ full talent. Most episodes have them sketching live with a limited timeframe. But on a few videos, they’re allowed to draw a full image beforehand, sometimes for hours, and speak over a sped-up presentation of their process. These episodes let them show off the phenomenal results they have when their talent is unrestricted.
What started as a rough screen cast, with admittedly terrible audio quality, confusing visuals, and rough pacing, has evolved into a polished and regular show with over a million subscribers. Many fans are budding artists themselves who use the show as a means of picking up form and technique advice, and there are plenty who do their own versions of drawing challenges or create fanart of the artists’ characters.
But there are many like me who just like to watch these professionals do their thing and shoot the breeze with their friends. I’ve found it incredibly relaxing as I deal with self-isolation under quarantine, and it helps that there are hundreds of episodes (actually, 1,000 as of last week!) at this point.
Like parent company CollegeHumor’s live action videos, Drawfee now produces premium content on Dropout.TV for five bucks a month. This includes access to videos earlier than YouTube, and exclusive series like a new Drawga D&D campaign and a fully animated cartoon series (about Hell). I just signed up, and I intend to make use of it extensively. It helps that the platform already has some other shows I’ve enjoyed on YouTube, like the gloriously pedantic geeky quiz show Um, Actually.
Search YouTube for “Drawfee” and your favorite movie or game genre, and you’ll probably find something up your alley. Give them a shot and you might find yourself addicted, too.
And for that, I’m sorry.