International Space Art Network

Welcome to a place of vision and beauty. Welcome to the world of space art.

Here we can talk about the tools and techniques for creating fantastic space art.

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I've not used Terragen, but from what I see of the work that people are generating with it it appears to be extremely capable.


Another option for great landscape and ecosystem control is Vue. Granted, the professional versions that are pretty much needed to have the full functionality for all the things you'll really want to do are a bit more expensive than even the full version of Terragen 2, but Vue is the FX industry standard in this area.


Either will serve you very well I should think.


I have heard good things about Vue, thanks.

I find Vue a mix of the brilliant and the frustrating. I took a look at Terragen 2, but it really confused me! Terragen one was simple and fun...


Has anyone managed to get good convincing cratered landscapes from any terrain type package? That's the bit that consistently defeats me...

If your not using those programs to make landscapes, what are you using?

happy new year from canterbury! to all,

I use a free (to me)and low cost tool called the Brain. LOL   Oils, canvas and brush with knife I fly thru the universes. Sorry. I am still struggling with the concept of digital art's absence of an original work. And how eventually that will play in the collectors' scenerio.  Is there any software that allows an 'original' yet?  With out that definition there remains a gaping hole.

I could never paint anything. I have no artistic skills except on the computer.

Kennith - (dont hit me,I am a lil ole lady!) is your work art or is it craft when created using software?

For example is a writer who uses a pencil instead of Microsoft Word any more a 'writer' ?  No would be my answer because the concept rests totally with the writer and the brush or typewriter or MS Word is purely to make that concept visual.

Is that the same with digital art? Have you laid the work out in your mind brush stroke by brush stroke building up the art or does the software and its limitations and enhancements form part of the finished work?

Funny you should mention writing because that is what I do. You are right, I do layout the image in my mind first. I am doing that now with a new render I'm working on.

Thank you Kennith for your input there. :D

Mario - first may I thank you for your comments regarding my work. I have only shown three pieces of my deep sky work ever and they sold that night and received such lovely comments that when I returned to Australia I decided to do an exhibition of 15 deep sky objects and then look for somewhere to show them. I am 'driven' with a passion that should be frowned upon in someone of my years! LOL  So - I love reading an appraisal such as your.

You make an excellent well balanced case for digital art as art and what interested me most was the definition of the  PSD as being the original.  Can one not make a copy of that PSD file?  Because my working life was spent in IT I have stayed away from software in my art other than for social entrepreneurship but I imagine one can make an exact PSD file any number of times.  

And yes I love a good discussion - I am far from won over to the dark side regarding digital creations but if the issue of one origianl is resolved I may concede an inch! :D

Hello Marie,

Please let me preface my comments by first saying: Your paintings are magnificent, beautifully rendered and a feast for the eyes!  Additionally, I'm glad you've reinvigorated this topic, for it is one that truly deserves a thorough airing.

You ask: "Is there any software that allows an 'original' yet?"

The "original" in my digital paintings is the PSD (Photo Shop Document) and is referred to, and retained as, a master. This master includes every last bit of detailed information of the work and is usually never released by an artist unless it's commissioned or some other form of work for hire. A PSD, rendered at very high resolution can fill the space of a traditional canvas without any loss in vibrance or detail. A JPG  is but a copy/print of the original, yet even at lower resolution it still has fairly good values and detail. In either case, whether it be a traditional painting or a digital one, the copy can never exhibit the superior quality of the original.

As for technique: In Photoshop the duplication of strokes and related styling techniques are accomplished by substituting charcoal and brush with a mouse, stylus or one's fingertips. The digital artist's tools simulate the many brush types and sizes, various sponges and other application and texturing tools of the traditional artist. All the work in my digital paintings is laid out exactly as it would be rendered in the traditional manner. I start with a blank canvas, then sketch out my design, lay down my backgrounds and build my subject just as you do, and I've done in the past, one layer at a time. Although software is available which is capable of creating landscapes, terrestrial and celestial objects and various other subject matter, I don't use them in my work. Not because they are not valid or artistic solutions to creating fine images, I just find it more gratifying to do it the "old" way.

The Realm of Galaxies

"The Realm of Galaxies" was painted in the manner described. After painting the entire "canvas" black, I then applied the dust clouds, stars, and details individually, all of which are comprised of many successive layers. The lightest (white in this case) was the base color and the increasingly darker colors were blended on a digital pallet quite similar to the traditional method. The painting took many hours, over several weeks, to complete. I started with a sketch then several studies, some of which were scrapped, before I was satisfied with my conceptual vision of the final piece. The application of the myriad components in the piece, rendered one at a time, require one to step back (virtually) and critique the painting almost every step of the way. As you know, it's a fine line between just enough and too much. In the case of "The Realm of Galaxies" I completed several versions before I had satisfied my mind's eye with the work being offered.

For purposes of demonstration I've included this side by side detail (within the red area) from the above painting:

(Double click image to see greater detail)

On the left is a detail from the painting above rendered at 100 pixels per inch, compared to the merged PSD on the right. Merged, meaning all the layers have been compressed and digitally processed as a very high resolution JPG at 600 pixels per inch. The techniques simulating those of real brushes show up much more clearly when comparing both images. A full blown PSD, which because of it's large file size makes it impractical and risky to post publicly, offers even greater detail to the viewer because it is completely uncompressed.

Marie, your pencil, keyboard analogy pretty much sums it up. Software is just another tool available to the artist. Digital paintings are as unique and tangible as any artistic product can be and just as difficult to imitate -- especially since the forger does not possess the highly detailed master. In practice, this master is the artist's ultimate provenance and as long as he or she possesses it, any and all false claims to it's history and ownership are moot. As to the question: "Is it art?" I'll leave that one to the eye of the beholder.

I hope I was able to offer some insight regarding your query. - Mario

That is a great galaxy painting. I've got photoshop but don't use it as much as I should. I have found a great tutorial for a space scene using ps I found in a magazine called fantasy art volume 2. I hope to use it soon after I finish my current scene I just started.

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