Disclaimer: Since I never know exactly what an artist is attempting to achieve with any particular image, I critique based on what I believe are the five most easily identifiable elements.
These are always going to be subjective, as art always is in all forms. Some things I will like, some things I will not. I will give a generalized impression of the image at the end.
Effort: After making a similar image myself, I can fully appreciate the effort put into each of these shots - Even if the process itself is standardized, I understand the time and patience it's taken you to polish your work to such a degree it's worth publishing. You've done so many of these types of shots and it seems that this in itself is a niche style because of how well and how specifically you do it.
Color: Your work always seems colored in such a way that it passes along the vastness and silence of space - Dark edges, bright focal points, and those clouds! I'd love a tutorial on just the clouds alone - They are spectacular every time. Now I've seen pieces of yours with more color than this piece, which is almost monochomatic, but they're always done spectacularly.
Positioning and Composition: The way the clouds envelope the sides of the piece, and the positioning of the planet in an off center position greatly achieves a rift-like effect. Even if it's hard to discern if there is an actual rift, the light coming through just on the edge of a dark planet enhances the piece - Maybe that's just my subjective love of sunrises from space, but either way I like it.
Focus and Path: Dark edges, light center, with a flare effect and the darkness of the planetoid to help balance the piece on the left side as the clouds dip create a very symetrical and asymetrical piece at the same time.Of course the flare is the focal point no matter how I look at the piece, but covering the flare with a finger I'm drawn to the edges of the clouds that are highlighted and the way they seem to frame the inside of the piece - It's almost like you did several pieces and as I cut out each focal point I'm drawn to something entirely different on the image.
Lighting: I know I had a lot to say about your piece a week or so ago - Lighting in this piece looks simple, but the fact is even if it was a simple piece to light, it was done perfectly. As I said before I do more photography than most anything else, so I notice issues more than some might as far as lighting goes. And I have to say this piece passes my eye amazingly well.
Impression as a whole: It was nearly impossible to write each section without mentioning pieces from other sections - To me that's the sign of a great piece. Everything was tied together - You used lighting to affect your color, positioning and composition to affect your focus, and lighting to affect your focus as well. A lot of pictures are easy to do because you'll have an obvious bit driving each part. Now I know with space pictures, there's always similar elements in play, and that most people won't compose a picture thinking of anything other than how awesome it looks. But you could easily get by saying "Oh yeah, I meant to do that" because to me it looks like you did.
Lastly, as far as my ratings: I hate the rating system in that it only has four items in it. I always give originality full marks. Every picture, even if it is an outright copy of someone else's style, is still unique. No one else has created that picture. No one else has that exact way of doing things. To me vision is more something you should be grading. Did you achieve your goal, your vision that you had in mind when you created the image?
With photography it's hard to do ratings, this is a bit easier.
Vision: I will give full marks here because it's your vision that matters, not how I see it. Did you accomplish your goal? I assume you did else you'd not have published it, so full marks.
Originality: You do a lot of the same thing, but you do it well. Your tutorial and technique are similar across the board but every piece you attempt to do something different, whether it's impacts, or just giving a specific impression. I'm tossing a four in here just because of the fact that they do all use the same methods in varying degrees. - Though for a space picture, with the amount of them out there on DA, to me a four is a high mark.
Your technique is close to a science - I tried it myself and just couldn't pull it off, so I had to change the method and simplify it for my own needs. As I've said before, to be great is to be copied, and I couldn't even copy your technique. It's obvious you've been doing it for a while (Duh, look at your gallery) so full marks here.
Lastly, impact to me is close to vision. It's more subjective to the viewer than the artist, but I have no way of knowing how you want the picture to impact me. So I'll go by title.
The piece was titled "The Rift", and the way the focal points and lighting ties everything together, I am drawn to the split in the clouds where the light pours through, unless that's just superheated cloud itself - Hard to tell in space - I don't get the impression of a rift, or any destructive force present. To me it's just a very serene. So I'm putting a three for Impact because it's not negatively influencing me, but I have to use my imagination to draw a correlation between title and picture.
I hope this is helpful! I'd love to have a response!
Hello, and sorry for late reply. I used 3 layers with overlay as blending option. And i used a large brush (500+) with texture on clouds @ 615% with an opacity of 20 - 33%. Draw a different kind og cloud on each and every one of the 3 layers and adjust the opacity on each of the 3 layers as you see fit. when it came to the details it is a mixture of drawing on my wacom board and pre-rendered textures that i use. but bottom line, practice makes perfect.
thanks for the helpful tips, would you say that the tablet is a must-have asset? I've been doing without one for now and don't really have the money to invest in one because I don't know how useful it would be...
You could problaby do some by any computer mouse. But even the simplest of drawing tablet will make it easier. I started out with my wacom bamboo one(costs alot less than the intous series)You don't have to go all out and buy the intous series or clintiq. But any tablet will be helpfull, as many of the things comes more naturally with hand gestures than with a computer mouse. But if you have some random shapes that is almost transparent (photos or whatever) try put that shape in a new layer and make the blend type to color dodge (many shapes will be barely seen on top of black and possibly get desired effect)
I've been staring at this on my desktop, enjoying the streaks of star-like lava just pierced and almost etched throug, the depth of nebulas, and your choices of color composition which are some of my favorites. I think this is my favorite of your work. There is so much really bad space art on DA now, but you are in the realm of what I call the original masters. Their works are in my Hall of Fame, and for what it's worth, so is The Rift.
The shadows are just a soft brush with texture on and clouds set at 615%, then you just draw around the edges with the brush. I used 3 layers with different strokes on each layer.
The reason for this is because it gives it more depth and variation on the clouds, especially when the color is applied. I think i used 20 - 33% opacity to the brush when i did the clouds. As the nebula goes, it's a fractal i made in apophysis software and added more work to it with a wacom drawing board to mask certain details or highlight certain areas. Pluss erasing some part completely, hope it helped