I had an idea for this ship sitting in my list for weeks, even months. Finally I was able to find some time and dig into this. It was a special case for me, because I remember a paper model of this ship all the way back in the 80's.
At the time, it was issued in a local magazine as a paper craft, and the design came from a comic book strip published in the same magazine. I lived in Czechoslovakia, so sci-fi was little hard to come by in those days. I admit, after all those years, I can clearly see, that the design was heavily inspired (I don't want to call it a rip off) by Battlestar Galactica. Nobody had any idea, what Battlestar is around here :D
I wanted to create a scene, that would enable the shape of the ship to go forward and at the same time, I wanted to give it a really deep space treatment. That's why I included some gravity distortions, really low key lighting and enforced the dark silhouette of the ship.
I included few references in my PureRef board, mostly paper model images of the original ship, which served great as a reference. Too bad, there wasn't any blueprint available, so I had to eyeball the proportions. I also inlcuded the original coming book strip to catch the atmosphere and some low poly space images. I got the planet crumbling idea, when looking at the low poly planets close together looking like they're connected with asteroid field. The second planet image serves mostly as a color and light reference.
The most important thing with the planets here is the material takeaway. The answer is Fresnel. Most of the atmospehric light effects can be stylized and reduced to simple fresnel mask in the node editor, which paired with the emisson shader gives a nice halo effect around the planet.
You can see the node setup here
After a thorough exploration and reference gathering, I tried to sketch out the layout. Again, the purpose of the sketch is to get some composition, that you like and it's the first time you see your idea coming to life. If you don't like it, there is a chance, you won't able to pull it off in 3D. This one was pretty straightforwar, so I just worked on some details I wanted to be visible on the ship.
Now just some healthy tips from a 3D modeling process :)
So, that's the spaceship scene for you, I hope you enjoyed it and it can help you with your next work.
You can watch the process video on YouTube