Drawing can be a tricky thing. Or maybe it’s illustration that’s tricky for me. What’s the difference you ask? As I break it down illustration is a subcategory under drawing. At its most basic drawing is putting marks on paper (or whatever) in an interesting way. Illustration means “To show”. So with illustration you have something you want to show and audience and you try your best to show it to them. Illustration is usually commercial so you want to show that your product is the best so you come up with a picture that shows that.

I don’t do much illustration. I mostly draw without having a idea before hand of what I want to draw. I’m looking to pull images out of my head that haven’t been seen before. Something new and intriguing. Or at least a little different than so many things that have been drawn.

Even in my comic strip I did a lot of the illustration ages ago and manipulate those images as I make a new strip. It would drive me crazy to draw the same talking heads over and over. That’s why I came up with an alternative way to make “Four Talking Boxes”. That method allows me to get the strip done. It’s not my creative preference but it’s the only way for the strip to exist. Now I’m trying to find a way to get another comic to exist. “Message-T”.

The main problem that I’ve been having with my “Message-T” comic has been that the drawing is boring me. Conceptually there isn’t much to the drawing. It’s a person standing there as we read the message that’s on his or her T-shirt. Easy to illustrate but difficult to make an interesting drawing of. At least so far.

At first I tried to focus on the character’s faces. That’s what I chose to make interesting. I like drawing faces and making a person’s features out of odd little shapes. My idea was that the shirt would be a billboard while the face would have character. I did pretty well in that respect. I managed to complete about a dozen of the single figure comics. But they still bored me a bit. The faces were only about twenty five percent of the drawing so the rest was fairly dull. I made things more interesting with color but it was not interesting enough to make me do more.

In looking back at those drawings I think I did a nice job but I still have no motivation to pursue them any further in that direction. A few months later, when I bought some marker sets, I tried to find a new method to make the drawings interesting to me. Once again, they were okay but I stopped after two drawings. They took too much time to do and weren’t that good in the end. It was actually a step backwards.

Yet somehow the whole “Message-T” concept wouldn’t leave my mind. Probably because it’s simple and up my alley. I like drawing, I like writing short pithy sentences, and I like mixing words and pictures together. Though oddly enough I never wear Message-Ts. All my shirts are blank. Still, I’ve been thinking about the comic again lately.

My latest idea for the “Message-T” comic came from looking through an old sketchbook. It wasn’t even one of my main drawing books that I go through for most of my images but an odd one that I did some drawing in years ago. There are not many useful drawings in those type of sketchbooks but there were some small figure designs that I liked. People wearing some weird clothes and drawn graphically. Lots of black shapes. I wondered if I could turn those drawings into something. I ended up not turning them into something but it inspired me to draw some new ones like them.

That is when I started making little ink sketches and stopped taking the name of the comic, “Message-T”, so literally. I realized that everyone I draw doesn’t have to be wearing a literal boring t-shirt. They just need some room on their upper bodies for a message. With the new sketches I played a lot more with the positive and negative shapes of the clothes and used solid black to design clothing that wasn’t relentlessly symmetrical.

Most of the women are even wearing dresses. They are a lot more fun to draw as there is more variety in dresses than there is in pants. Pants can make for a real dull drawing. They are usually one solid color and one pair of pants looks much the same as any other. With dresses almost anything goes. Pattern, shape, and style are all in play. “Messages-Dresses” sounds pretty cool too.

Since I took a more graphic approach to the shirts and dresses in this go around I also took a more graphic approach to the color. In the earlier ones I attempted to add a little shading to the T-shirts but it didn’t add much to the drawing. The shirts were flat and symmetrical and a bit of shadow didn’t change much. This time the color was flat but added to the overall design. I think it works better.

The comic still isn’t quite ready to go just yet. I have managed to get four of the new ones finished but there is something I still don’t like about them. I’m not sure what though. I like the comic better than I did before. I even think the new strips make the older ones look nicer. With more variety in the over all look I find the face centered ones more interesting than I used to. I think I’m going to have to get more of the new ones done before I decide if it’s the right direction. But at least I have a direction. That’s always a good thing.