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Facing a Nightmare by Aliya Chen.jpg
Type public servants
World Komashi
Universe Cosmere
Featured In Yumi and the Nightmare Painter
This page or section contains spoilers for Yumi and the Nightmare Painter!
This information has the ability to potentially ruin elements of the plot for the reader. Proceed with caution if you have not read this book.

Nightmare painters, or simply painters, are civil servants in Nagadan responsible for defending the population from nightmares. They are overseen by a government agency known as the Nightmare Division. Painters patrol the streets looking for signs of nightmares which have emerged from the shroud and neutralize any they find by painting them as something harmless, with brush and black ink on canvas.[1]

Job Description[edit]


Prospective painters attend two years of upper school training after graduating from lower school around the age of sixteen or seventeen cosmere standard years.[2] Their schooling focuses on art, and specifically on painting nightmares.[3][4] One of the first things they are taught is to imitate the styles of seminal masters.[5] Those who are accepted into the Dreamwatch train separately for their second year.[6]

After completing upper school, painters are hired into the Nightmare Division. Early in their career, they shadow experienced painters to gain some practical experience before working on their own.[4]

Equipment and Gear[edit]

When on patrol, painters carry their equipment with them in a large bag. Their equipment includes brushes of varying size, jars of black ink, and blank canvases.[7][1] They practice with brushes of various size, all the way up to the length of a broom, but they typically use brushes approximately two feet long.[2] The ink is specially designed to give the artist fine control over gradation.[1] The canvases are three feet by three feet, square, and made of thick cloth on a frame.[1] It is also common for painters to carry an umbrella to shield their canvases, as rain is not uncommon.[8] Newer painters carry a bell device, which rings loudly and repeatedly after being activated in order to call for support from nearby painters.[4] Painters have a formal uniform that can be worn on occasion,[9] but most wear plain clothing of their choosing when on patrol.[10]


Nightmare painters are assigned by their foreman to a specific shift schedule, which may change from time to time, and primarily work at night.[7] They do occasionally have holidays, such as Ashday when they only work half of a normal shift.[11] It is not uncommon for painters to trade shifts with one another by request.[4] Painters are assigned a specific section of their city to patrol,[7] and are generally focused on the perimeter of the city in order to catch nightmares before they get too far beyond the shroud.[4] They typically look for signs of a nightmare passing, either from signs of a disturbance on the surface of the shroud itself, or from residue left behind by a nightmare's footprints or other contact made with physical surfaces.[1]

When an experienced painter catches a nightmare, they are trained to be quiet and to keep a tight lid on their own emotions to avoid the creature's notice.[4] They remove their supplies from their bag and place them on the ground.[1] Conventionally, they attempt to discern something harmless that the shape of the nightmare reminds them of, as this makes enforcing their mental picture on the nightmare more easily accomplished.[1] Nightmares may be painted into any form with adequate skill and strength of will, though this is more difficult with stable nightmares, and may not be permanent in such cases.[12] If they catch the nightmare actively feeding on someone's dreams, they prefer not to inform the person.[4]

After completing their shift, painters stop by the foreman's office to turn in their paintings as proof of their work.[13] On average, they are expected by catch one nightmare each shift, though it is not uncommon to go several days without seeing one.[13]


The salary of a typical painter is meager, though members of the Dreamwatch likely earn more.[9] They are paid daily, at the end of their shift.[13] In addition to payment, painters are also provided with a one-room apartment.[7] If a painter fails to perform their duty, they receive a warning first followed by a suspension with no pay for one month.[14] To other painters this suspension is noted as being a medical leave.[14]


Aside from family, friends, and coworkers, painters are often referred to simply by their job title.[7] Though nightmare painting is considered a lower-class job, painters are widely respected to some degree.[15] It is not uncommon for them to be thanked on the streets, or to experience other perks such as discounts.[15]

In Kilahito, painters make use of the blank exterior walls of perimeter buildings for practice. Each painter claims one wall and paints a mural that is referred to as their "capstone painting".[1]

The Dreamwatch is a position rife with nepotism, with those that manage to get into it often not being due to skill, but rather due to their relationship to politicians, prominent investors, or previous Dreamwatch members.[9]

Notable Painters[edit]

Notable painters include:


  1. a b c d e f g h Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 3#
  2. a b Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 19#
  3. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 14#
  4. a b c d e f g Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 25#
  5. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 31#
  6. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 27#
  7. a b c d e Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 1#
  8. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 7#
  9. a b c Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 37#
  10. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 16#
  11. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 21#
  12. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 40#
  13. a b c Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 5#
  14. a b Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 18#
  15. a b Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 28#
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