This illustration has been years in the making. But I got stuck after assembling the planet models and working out how to light them properly.
Inspiration finally hit me tonight, and I set about creating the star field based on a number of different NASA photographs. (Credit: NASA, ESA, SSC, CXC and STScI.) I had a lot of fun doing this, although I ended up tweaking the overall contrast and colours quite a bit to stop it from completely overpowering the planets and moons of the Soltan Ephemeris.
The colours were rather serendipitous; I only realised towards the end of the composition that I had placed each planet over an area of the backdrop with thematically correct colours. So you can see Calidar is close to the Oortan Cloud with its deep blues, Draconia is amid fiery reds, Lao-Kwei and Kumoshima are in an area of purple, and Ghüle is off in the corner in a ghoulish green area of space. It's almost like I designed it this way — and I suppose I did, but it was mostly subconscious.
The full resolution version of this is 5120 x 2880, which is the full resolution of my monitor. So it was designed for a screen resolution rather than a print size. First Mates can enjoy a 2560 x 1440 version in PNG, while the Airman and public release is a 1920 x 1080 (otherwise known as HD) JPEG format.
As always, please let me know if you have any comments, corrections, or suggestions.
One final request: I'd love it if you could share this far and wide among your friends and social media circles. It was created as a labour of love for all of you.
Thanks for all of your support!