Youtuber Art Series, Marques Brownlee (MKBHD)

Although you probably wouldn’t be able to tell based on how sporadically I’ve been posting, over the last few months I have wanted to focus a bit more on the Amdall Gallery YouTube channel. As you might expect from a hobbyist like myself, I’ve had mixed results. Although I have managed to share 11 videos in four months (not bad), I haven’t uploaded anything in a month! Work and other of life’s routines always eventually want their share of your time though, so that’s just how it goes. As part of the broader focus on YouTube related stuff, I had an idea for what seemed like a fun project – to sketch portraits of some of my favorite YouTubers. I have a handful of channels I watch, like Marques Brownlee‘s and The Verge‘s tech reviews, Mariusz Goli‘s and ERB‘s music, and Ali Abdaal‘s organization/tech/analysis videos. So, why not take a shot at drawing some of these folks? I’m always on the lookout for interesting new things to try (within my broader comfort zone of course).

The first portrait I tried was of tech reviewer Marques Brownlee, also known as MKBHD. I started with him because, after Luisina Juliete (whose videos helped me figure out blending and layering), Brownlee’s is one of the earliest YouTube channels I really heavily watched. Over the last couple of years, his reviews have become my first stop when I’m considering new tech or gadgets. And if MKBHD hasn’t reviewed something yet that just came out, I tend to wait a bit to see if he will before I buy it. I leaned on his impressions for at least the last three or four smartphones I purchased, as well as my last two tablets. I appreciate his thoroughness and the specific content he includes, but his overall personality is pretty significant too. In an online world completely saturated with sponsorships and paid endorsement, the trust factor has become really important. It’s why I’ve come to trust Amazon reviews less, and even started hosting my own product impressions. MKBHD has that “trust factor” for me, which is sort of a hard-to-nail-down quality. Part of that is his affect and commentary just feels genuine; when he says something is smooth, or broken, or designed good/bad, it comes across like an enthusiast just sharing his thoughts.

There are a few areas where my interests don’t quite align with his, but that’s to be expected with anyone really. For example, Brownlee loves extremely large smartphones, whereas I am all about the smaller form factor. And, although electric cars do interest me, I’m not as big a fan of Teslas as he is. But despite the differences, his specific feedback is still really useful. And he does acknowledge areas that are more his personal preferences, like the large phone screen situation. My standard tech review flow is to first see if MKBHD has a review, then hit up both The Verge’s Dieter Bohn and Ali Abdaal to see if it’s something they’ve talked about. If all three have discussed something? I usually feel like I can make a pretty informed decision about it as a consumer.

Anyhow, back to the artwork. Here’s the final version of this Marques Brownlee drawing:

Now, we’re to the portion where I typically discuss the drawing itself. I’m really happy with how this turned out! It definitely looks like Marques Brownlee, which is always my first critical pass when I’m looking at my finished portraits. The scene came from one of his videos (unfortunately I can’t remember which one); I wanted to capture MKBHD in the middle of talking, and I did that without making it too odd looking. It seems like he’s in the middle of describing his thoughts, which is exactly what I hoped to accomplish. I’m not always great at selecting the right, true-to-life colors, but I do think I matched and blended skin tone well here. His brows and mouth particularly seem important to depicting him accurately, and I didn’t mess them up in any major way.

This one is mostly a win, but as usual, there are some areas I could pick apart. His shirt is not very well done; I always have issues with clothing, and this was no exception. I think I’ve adapted well to shading and contrast for people’s skin (and even animal fur to some extent), but I still have a lot to learn about how to handle clothing. More practice is surely in store, but maybe I should do some research too. As I’ve mentioned on other posts, I do not have any real training as an artist, so I’ll need to either dedicate myself to more practice or try to learn from other pencil artists where I can.

Since I’m focusing on YouTube (to the extent I can), I am continuing on the trend of sharing progression in the form of videos rather than the old progression .gifs I used to make.

I think the videos are getting a bit better in terms of lighting and image quality…but I still need improvement here too. If anyone has any pro-tips, definitely open to hearing about suggestions! I bought a box light that I still haven’t tried, so that might be something I need to finally get into. As I mentioned at the top, this Youtuber Art Series is something that I’d like to continue. I think the next on tap might be street busker/guitarist/composer Mariusz Goli, but there are quite a few I could give a try. Hopefully more coming soon!

Also, on a different note, I’ve still got a portrait giveaway running for another custom portrait. So, if any readers like this art style, and are interested in a drawing of themselves, their family, favorite brand of salsa, etc., give it a shot! Usually, the winner and I work out the subject via email, then I mail the finished version to them. The entry widget can be found on the home page, original post, or I’ll try to embed it below (if the embed actually works). Good luck!

Summer 2020 Portrait Giveaway

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