The two main (living) characters are Dylan and Michael. Dylan is the brash commander of the operation who gets the team into trouble, Michael is the timid unlikely sort-of hero. The only notes on characterizations I got from the editorial director were that Dylan should have hair in his eyes and Michael should have glasses. I started by doing several sketches of each boy. Since I knew they would mostly have conniving or terrified looks on their faces I didn't worry much about making them smile or look happy in my sketches. Not sure how this inspired the sketches, but I settled on my final designs while watching Tangled with the kids over Christmas break. Maybe Dylan has a bit of Flynn Rider in him?
Then I worked on the page sketches. In this first illustration from the book, we see Dylan and Michael together in Dylan's room. I felt like this image really needed to set the tone for what was to come. You see Dylan's cemetery hobby taped all over the walls and Michael's hesitance to come into the room. Their body language tells the reader what to expect of these characters as the story unfolds. The room itself is also a "character" as the lighting and decor help describe Dylan for the reader.
In this second illustration from the book, the two boys hatch a plot to do Something Really Dangerous In A Graveyard. I felt like the lighting was everything in this piece. The glow from the laptop underlines the spooky subject the boys are investigating and Dylan looks more determined and sneaky. Michael needed to look interested but not that crazy about the idea. I enjoyed using his glasses to portray his expression.
Here are the finals for the two pieces. Even though these appear sequentially in the book I didn't actually work on them one after the other. I have a habit of skipping all around page order when doing finals since I think it helps make the characters more uniform throughout. More on that in the next post!