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Inspired by some of my favourite digital artists at the time, I wanted to create something really epic. To make people drop their jaw a bit and understand I wasn't just a one-trick vector pony. I knew it was never going to be as good as my inspiration was but I had to start somewhere. Considering how little I did know about matte painting at the time, the result was surprisingly okay. Also the memories of my shiny new wacom tablet and using a 19" CRT screen are forever embedded into this piece for me. I love it, even if it's not great. To this day I am using a very similar technique to create spacescapes. Also what I learnt here about panting explosions and lightning is invaluable, being my first attempt at anything like that in Photoshop.

As with all learning processes, I had to simulate the real thing as much as possible. This was the first ever A0 size, print DPI document I had made. Needless to say, on a 2005 computer, that was a big task. In itself a whole other lesson. A popular technique back then was to render the landscape in a program called Terragen. I'd spent a few days playing with that beforehand as well so it was all a lot to take in on top of trying to create an outcome.

The lightning was supposed to be coming from some kind of interstellar rift, hence it is coming from the atmosphere and not the clouds. Also, the clouds were my first real lesson in retouching. I had to blend them together and match them up with the rest of the painting which was all new to me at that point. The subject is odd and feels quite empty with a lone comet and no signs of any life or civilisation. If I still had the original document I'd love to add these things but at the same time that is the charm of this piece and my reason for calling it Snapshot. It is supposed to feel personal, like a photograph did before everyone had a camera phone.