Sorry, I replied already, but apparently it didn't load. For incredible detail (and it isn't, really, just the suggestion of it) I use tiny brushes. And it's the second one...I start with a blank black surface, and rough in sone cloud forms with acrylic white and water. Then add stars on top. Then more cloud and gas/dust lane effects. Maybe more stars. Then some colour, then more brushwork, blending etc. The planets and ships are added as black silhouettes which are then lit in tone according to the available light sources. Then colour, then more defining shadow and light, then more, again, of everything. It's pretty intuitive, really, like a feedback loop, each change institutes other changes.As I use a white acrylic ink for highlights, I tend to retouch these a LOT. I may post a series of images showing the process from zero on one of these. Just time, really.The above image took a week or so, spending about two hours a day on average at it.
Thanks very much for your kind remarks, sorry it took a while to get back to you.
No worries, I'm replying 11 days after your reply. As I said I admire the detail specificly around the reflection on the ships and the planets. I am still only experimenting with my paints and so I have yet to reach comfort on wide scales such as this one. Tres cool!
Nope. Just a heavy, dense, slighty pulpy black card, about 3mm thick, It's sold in batches of ten or so, can often get it cheap in a Dublin city centre art shop called Evans. (nice people!) Probably not especially suitable for this kind of work, as it's not super smooth. When I want it that way I'll often prime it first, sand it with fine glass paper then paint my background in using acrylics, as in 'The Golden Age'. It's other disadventage is that it doesn't take well to water, as I said, can be a bit...pulpy. So the priming etc helps seal it too. But it tends to warp a bit when wet.
Different depths are just mostly different tones, also dull versus vivid, blurred v sharp, warm v cold. Put those together in a variety of combinations and you have depth!