First off, this piece certainly deserves the DD. The overall composition works great, the focus being about 1/3 from the right, and the colours are calm and serene. The stars look great, with realistic colours and a nice, not too random spread that still doesn't look deliberate. The nebula cloud itself looks awesome, the shape looks really natural and stands out well.
My only criticisms would be that the stars' visibility is not affected by the cloud, giving the impression that all the stars exist in a flat pane in front of the cloud. I would reduce the brightness of some stars where the nebula is, to give the impression that they're shining through a dense cloud of dust. This would perhaps improve the depth of the piece. Also, while the nebula cloud looks great, there isn't much going on around it, and I think some subtle variations of tone and colour (like in the bottom left, which looks great) would improve the piece. Using more purple-brown tones in the shadows of the nebula cloud might look good.
Overall though a stunning piece and definitely my new wallpaper. The technical skill and unity of composition really stood out for me, I would love to know if this nebula was 100% hand-painted or if some sort of fractal program was used as a base. Either way this piece is stunning. Awesome work!
Thank you so much for your critique. You made several good points about the stars. I dont know if you looked but I've done a few more after this where I really focused on getting depth to the stars. I think I've got that figured out, cause you're right, they do look flat in this image.
Yep, this 100% painted from a plain white document. I dont like using fractals and things like that. I feel like I'm cheating my self out of becoming a better artist.
Again thank you so much for this critique.
After posting the critique I had a flick through your gallery (should really have done that before critiquing..) and I definitely agree with you on the stars, your work is amazing. And the fact that you hand painted it is awesome - as a bit of an amateur in space art, I have to ask how do you do it? And how do you do your stars? It all looks so realistic.
And that's a good point on the fractals, I admit I use apophysis renders myself but I think that can sometimes be a bit limiting (once you have that shape it kind of puts you off changing stuff, even if it's for the better).
No problem, you thoroughly deserved the DD and you are now my new source of awesome wallpapers