Ooo, can I play too ??
Okay, I really suck at space stuff. Partially because I guess it bores the crap out of me. Unless it’s like really surrealistic and gorgeous like some of the nebulas and that kind of stuff. But I’m not much into spaceships, etc.
But I do see a lot of repeating practices that people might want to reconsider.
First, cameras in space operate under the same principles as they do on earth. When the scene is dark, and the subject is relatively close or zoomed, then stuff in the background is usually blurred due to a shallow depth of field. And adding DOF helps to give a sense of distance, which is often missing in space-y renders with spaceships that are thousands or millions of miles away from planets and stuff. Unfortunately it obscures that cool planet you spent so much time on, but I think it adds some realism that sells the image a bit better.
Now of course, bright subjects and wide angle lenses increase the DOF, so you wouldn’t see it as much in that case.
Second, objects in space still interact with light from other objects. Including planets and other ships, etc. And that’s very important to place the object in the scene, instead of making it seem like the objects were copied and pasted into the image. So if you have a spaceship that is nearing a planet, the reflected light from the planet should interact with the ship. Also the sun/moon/star light should interact with the ship. And so on…
Also, textures are real important on spaceships. Often you’ll see real dull, uninteresting textures with no light interaction whatsoever, and it just looks like a plastic model was stuck in the image. And engine glow should be made interesting, not just a single color that looks like a bad Photoshop splotch.
Here’s a crappy, standard spaceship image with some depth of field and reflections of light to clearly place the ship in the scene. I think the DOF is way overdone, but I’m not sure. If you check some real life space station photos and stuff you see the DOF when the lighting is low, but I don’t know, it just doesn’t look right. But anyway you get the point. And I made the spaceship a shiny metallic to enhance the reflections and interest.
Again, don’t take the image as a good example because it’s sucky and boring, but hopefully it illustrates the points.
Click thumbnail to see full-size image