Want to draw your beloved Dragonborn cleric but feel you lack the skills to do so? Pop over into the Arts category on Twitch, and you will find countless streams of artists working live and chatting away with their audience. While these streams are fun and relaxing to take part in, they offer little in terms of art instruction. You might be able to glean some tips by watching other artists work and by participating in the chat, but that isn’t the purpose of these streams. Pub Draw looks to fill the void of art instruction on Twitch by setting out to teach their audience how to draw their own TTRPG characters.
Created and hosted by the Kickstarter-breaking Critical Role team, Pub Draw is a mixture between a hang-out stream and TTRPG Bob Ross illustration class. Each week, Batgirl artist Babs Tarr teaches cast member Marisha Ray and various guests how to draw using characters from Critical Role as the prompt. Starting at ground zero, Tarr leads her audience and guests through the absolute basics of drawing. She encourages the audience to use what is accessible and to practice as often as they can.
The show’s greatest strength is the spirit of positive reassurance. During each hour to two-hour long stream, the audience is encouraged to follow along without fear. Did you do nothing but craft a sheet of skeleton heads and eyeballs? Great! You now have a sheet of skeleton heads and eyeballs in your inventory! Does your drawing look wrong to you? That’s all right! Just follow your Art Heart and keep at it until it looks right to you.
The focus on Pub Draw’s “everything is content” philosophy is wonderful and makes learning how to draw complex characters instantly accessible to beginners. At no point does Tarr use her training and experience as a professional to set the bar too high or look down on beginners--an issue which often plagues other drawing courses. Pub Draw isn’t about her, it’s all about the audience. Week-by-week watching Marisha Ray continuously learn and improve alongside the audience is another wonderful point of accessibility.
The main drawbacks to the show are derivative of its Livestream format. Those looking for a more structured course may have issues following along as Tarr floats back and forth from serious instruction to helping her guests, to jumping ahead to more advanced techniques. This can make the instruction feel disjointed and multiple viewings of the same episode are encouraged.
The other major drawback is that episodes are not numbered. If like myself, you are unable to watch the show live and have to rely on YouTube uploads later, it can be difficult to know which episode comes in what order. It took me a solid 20 minutes of flipping between episodes before figuring out where I should start. I highly suggest finding a playlist on YouTube so that you can enjoy and learn along in order.
Even if you’re an experienced artist, there’s a lot to learn in Pub Draw. Speaking from experience, I’ve been an illustrator for years, but the majority of my training has been self-education. Starting with the basics alongside a professionally trained illustrator showed me all kinds of tricks and shortcuts I could use in my own personal work. It’s also a great excuse to carve out some me time to draw some of my favorite characters--including my own.
Brittany Lindstrom is a mixed media illustrator out of ye olde Boise, Idaho. Under the banner of Spice & Rose, Lindstrom is oftentimes left dreaming of deep dungeon dives while chained to her studio. On the rare occasion that she's let out, you can find her presenting panels on art and Artist Alley at conventions all around the Intermountain West. She has a deep love for playing randomized characters.