February contest WIP - nightfall

  • Happy February folks. I was kind of drawing a blank (no pun intended) on the topic Nightfall topic this month. Had an idea about a dragon that flies around the earth, bringing nightfall with it, and while it was a fun concept it didn't particularly mean anything to me:


    Growing up in Arizona, I've always loved the stories and lore of the native Americans of the region, specifically the Navajo, so I went back to that well for inspiration. There is a great story about the creation of the night sky, constellations, etc, that I thought would like to try. It involves one of the characters climbing a crooked ladder formed by two flaming arrows shot into the night sky and manually placing the constellations by hand, but there are two major differences in the versions I can find online.
    Not that I'm planning on doing anything long term with this illustration, but the differences basically make one version wrong, and the other one right, and since I don't really know which is the preferred version, I want to focus on one piece that is the same in both:

    While the First Man and First Woman are working with the Fire Man to hang the constellations, climbing the ladder over and over again to take handfuls of the quartz stone and placing them by hand in the night sky, a coyote named First Angry grew impatient with them, grabbed the blanked holding all the dust and chips of quartz left over from carving the sun and moon, and flipped it into the air. The stone fragments swung a great arc, scattering star dust and fragments from horizon to horizon, forming the Milky Way, thus filling in the area around the constellations.

    This is the piece I'm going to attempt. While I want a really active scene, there's a lot going on there. I'm torn between the moment after the blanket comes to rest, when the three characters are standing below the newly-formed night sky, or the moments before, where he is flipping the blanket around, scattering the stars. Dogs can flip toys, but aren't exactly adept at flipping things like large blankets, so it's coming off as a little stiff (8). I'm thinking the better option is the Coyote grabbing the blanket and taking off with it, even though I don't feel like it would have the visual punch I was hoping for. It would give me some more options for different POVs, which is nice, but I don't know.


    Any suggestions? At this point I'm basically open to anything.

  • I like 7, though I think you could play around with the pose a little. I also like the ideas you have going on 3,4,6,8, though I think it might be nice to have the sky be bigger in proportion to the ground plane. So either the pose from 3 or 5, with a smaller strip of land and a bigger portion of sky to really sell the effect of stars and sky.

  • Are you going to have the human characters in any of these? Showing the fear in anticipation of the coyote about to run off with the blanket or shock at the spraying stars?

  • @Braden-Hallett Yeah, maybe. I’m not sure the actual story involves any fear per se, but I don’t want to rule it out if it helps.

    @TessaW Thanks for the feedback...I had some time in between meetings to flesh out that idea a bit. Still need to work out the blanket so it looks less like sushi and more like a Native American blanket. Still not in love with it but we’ll see.


  • Not sure this tells enough of the story, but man it was fun to draw!


  • @Aaron_T Cool concept! It looks very dynamic too with the diagonal coyote. What if you made the stars and such more of a night sky at the bottom? THey kind of just look like sparkles rather than stars. Maybe put the moon and planets in there??? Just trying to brainstorm.

  • I really like the composition of the bottom one, the diagonal and overhead view helps make it a lot more dynamic! I agree that you could add more stars in the background or a moon to emphasize the night sky feel and possibly up the texture in the sky a bit more since I didn't notice it at first.

  • Thanks @Braden-Hallett and @Melanie-Ortins,
    The trick is that in this POV we’re looking down at the coyote as he runs off with the blanket, so its the ground that we see in the background. Maybe if I put some plants or rocks on the ground it would be more obvious, but I wasn’t sure if this angle was going to roll or not.

    I did want to try the same scene but from below, in which case I could add the stars and moon and such in there, since I really am liking the way the blanket full of stars/dust is coming out, but a below view of a dog running/flying by seems kind of unappealing. Unless I put him way off in the distance, which I might try next.

    Tried doing a more horizontal view of the same scene but I don’t really like it. Might rework the coyote a bit more to see if that’s the issue:


  • I dunno guys...I’m really starting to like this version. Still don’t think it tells enough of the story without having text in the image, but I might be okay with that.



  • @Aaron_T this was my favourite of the thumbnails and it looks great drawn out. I prefer the previous version though. I'm not sure if it's the angle ( running bottom left to right top), the simplicity (no plants, etc.) or the contrast (the new version feels a little dark and it's less easy to see what's happening).

    I think it reads fine as an overhead view and it's really interesting to see it from that angle when the image is about the sky! I think as @chrisaakins and @Melanie-Ortins suggested, you could still fade out to more realistic looking night sky at the edge of the blanket. I know we are looking down but essentially the milky way is being created here so we could still see it before it flies up into the sky? Maybe just something to try to see if you like it.

  • @neschof Thanks for the comments! The first time I posted that from above I did have to lighten it up in Photoshop… For some reason things on my iPad come out very dark when I export them. I lightened up a second version and posted it above.

    It really is interesting how the direction of the coyote impacts the implied meaning. I simply rotating the canvas it gives it almost a different feel. As I’m drawing I keep spinning it around and feel like I could almost go with any direction… Except bottom right to top left. For some reason that one just strikes me as odd 😉

  • I had an idea while sitting in traffic on my commute home tonight, and because I must be some sort of masochist I decided to see if I could make a stronger image from an idea that’s supposed to be funny. Here’s where I am now...text will be something along the lines of either “they were right here!” Or “get the fire going, I’m freezing” etc. either way, had some fun with this one tonight.


    Looks super dark on the iPad tonight, might try to lighten it up and repost from photoshop tomorrow.

  • @Aaron_T It's too dark on my screen too, I can't tell what's happening.

  • @carlianne Sitting in a dark room, drawing on a dim screen, I could see everything. Click on the forum to post it and I feel like I was blinded by the insane white background 😎

    I lightened up the image in the previous post but it’s still dark on here until you click on the image and open it in a new window. Depending on the browser it’s a dark background or a light one.

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  • I like #9 the best. I love the use of a traditionally patterned star blanket and the movement from the horizon upward mimics the darkness rising off the eastern horizon as night falls. The angle, not only looks good, it also mimics the patterns of clouds, coloring in the sky as it darkens. Very nice all around.

  • @Aaron_T cool! Just wanted you to know that it wasn't just you. 😂

    For the record I kinda like your wolf with the blanket more. You can always add the text to it if you feel like it is needed.

  • @carlianne @Kim-Hunter Yeah, thanks folks. I just had this image in my mind and felt like I needed to flesh it out.

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