Breaking characters

I've got this children's book I'm working on. It's about one brother helping another on an adventure he was told not to come on. The words are done. I've been over them a zillion times, even had them edited by a trusted and helpful writer friend. My plan was to jump from there into a few great sample pictures and send it out to editors. I thought I had a style I wanted to draw the book in. Then I started experimenting. 

I started with a simple style, and put them in Lord of the Rings-like clothing. I put pics of the little brother up on instagram and even did the two brothers together for one of my Doodle-A-Day May pics.  

May 17.jpg

But something about them felt generic to me. It was too derivative. So I started drawing different versions, veering more toward middle eastern and persian design. I don't have all the sketches from my sketchbooks, but I did have a few already on the computer that I can show. Here's the progress of the older brother.

Reza progress.jpg

I flirted with harder, simpler edges, because they're easier and can be stylish. Only I wasn't feeling the style. So I leaned into more curves. Something more animation-like. Here's the little brother.

aasha progress.jpg

Like I said, there are a ton of sketches between these two points. But I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere. My wife likes the older versions for the whimsy (I do too), but prefers the new versions because they look like they'd be involved in something epic. I'm still not 100 percent sold on either one--I really like them both. I'll have to try a few more poses in each style before I commit. Sooner or later, I'm going to get this book out! 

Finally, here's a pic of the newer versions together.

brothers sketch.jpg