This was one of my more ambitious projects in 2014. I started it early that year by creating the scene in Vue. I ran into a lot of technical limitations that needed workarounds that again needed a lot of time to get executed in an efficient way. Beneath we have a series of testrenders that helped me to find a good enough atmosphere, composition and technical approach. The final render was 6000px wide and took quite some time to finish. Not just because I rendered multiple passes of the scene. Each pass contained elements that I wanted to have in the final Photoshop composite. Some of the elements had to be rendered separately just because the Vue scene file got too big. So I had to split it up into foreground and background. Overall it surely took me a little more than 3 days to render out all needed materials.
Photoshop Stage
After I finished the render process, I knew that the Photoshop stage would be a beast. While the overall impression of the render looked great, in full zoom 6000px you were able to see all kinds of things that didn't look too good. So I took myself a break for a couple of weeks to do some other work. I literally had no motivation to attack this one. When I finally mustered the will to carry on with the project, the first thing I needed to do was to combine all the different renderpasses. Once that was done, and my plate for the actual Photoshop magic was laid out, I started to add additional textures and sky elements. That helped to define the colour composition and atmosphereic look I had in mind from the start. Last but not least I had to go back and re-render a lot of elements to add more detail or render completely new elements to fill areas with life. And yeah, I completely agree, that the pic was full of detail right from the start. But I'm a detail nut and always have in mind how a large print of the pic would look like. I enjoy pictures that you can look at for years and still discover new details you haven't noticed before.
Detail Captures
Here we have a collection of detail captures to show the level of detail at 100% zoom. Looking at it now, a couple of months later, it's hard to believe how much work went into all of this. Sometimes it even got down to fixing pixels. But it paid off since I learned a lot while working on it. There are things you can only learn by working in it. And, no matter how big and complicated the project is, it's always something I appreciate in the end.
A Different Perspective
Last but not least a couple of quick plain renders with different perspectives from within the scene. These were done just for fun and do not contain any Photoshop touch ups. Beside my own personal rudimentary modeling skills I did use material from the DAZ3d store to fill the scene with smaller structures and greeble elements.