With the overall aesthetic established, I opted to move to pencil and paper for the next sketch. This is a much quicker method for me to solve visual challenges and it allows me to get out of the office and work (which is important for staying somewhat sane).
I developed two roughs and decided to move forward with the first option. I liked the way it broke apart the illustration into scenes but still tied it together with the path the runner was on. I redrew the sketch digitally to ensure all the elements would work well together.
For me, this piece really came alive when I added black and white tones to everything. Something about it started singing, and I liked what I was hearing. With the tones in place, I moved to 3 color options, and 2 of them were chosen to create the same change in daylight animation effect as the Alpine illustration.