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"Capturing Heaven"
by Greg Martin

We have all seen the spectacular images that the Hubble Space Telescope and other such observatories have revealed to the world. Their haunting splendor inspires and compels us as artists. The question is, how can we capture the elusive essence space in our own representations of the heavens?

Simply put, how does one draw space? To answer this question, it is necessary to move beyond the details of “how do I make such and such in Photoshop.” I’ll say this right up front: this article is not going anywhere near the techniques needed to create celestial art. I’ve discussed this with a number of colleagues, and we’ve all agreed that the process of self-discovery and learning is a priceless experience. I have no intention of giving anyone the temptation of a shortcut, as I really believe it does more harm than good—providing a crutch and inhibiting an artist’s ingrained confidence from developing. The main reason I’ve written this article is because I dearly love space and all its potential beauty. I also highly respect the online community and would like to give those who care to take the time an insight into my own understanding of the elements of space. To begin, I offer this kernel of knowledge…

Understanding the concept is paramount.

The secret to drawing space is to have an intuitive understanding of it. Whether this understanding is the result of research and observation or some spontaneous inspiration, you really must know your subject. A thorough grasp of software and a decent assortment of tricks up your sleeve are important, of course, but even more important is the ability to think about space on a level deeper than simply looking at a Hubble image and trying to copy it. You need to be able to appreciate what space is, physically and aesthetically, in order to really represent it in a manner that does it justice. That being said, I’d like to share with you some of my own research and insights into space. I realize that some of this is common knowledge. My aims are merely to open your eyes and mind to the sheer possibilities of celestial art, and then sit back and watch what you create.


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