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At the Threshold of Majesty and Curiosity

Originally an entry to environaut's Space-Terragen Contest. The galaxy featured in my original attempts was made from scratch in Photoshop, and was really horrible. That's the main reason I moved all three initial versions to my scraps. Still, it was a great concept. It would be wonderful if I had the time to paint a galaxy this nice from scratch, but first, I decided to try it with an image found online. I picked a large image of the M31 Galaxy; but still had to scale it up a bit for this. I did a little tweaking to improve the appearance, but for now will have to live with the rather large stars that resulted. As before, the beautiful terrain is the one ~environaut provided for everyone. I worked pretty hard to come up with a unique scene, and still feel an obligation to give it my very best. While I was working, I did some adjustments to the terrain, removed the crappy looking building, added in some clouds (using one of my own stock photos) and moved the top planet from the top edge to a side edge. Updating those planets will take a bit longer, since the critical layers got flattened, making it impossible to reuse or improve the clouds on both. I'll give it a shot if I ever do come up with a realistic galaxy from scratch. Apart from the post work I've done in Photoshop over all four versions, including all of the scenic elements I incorporated in the foreground, the terrain itself is untouched. I am posting this in the Sci-Fi category since it has always had a space exploration theme to it, and I think the Space Terragen category has been abandoned.

I'm still grateful to Mike for sponsoring such a wonderful and challenging contest! Additional compliments to those who commented on previous versions, particularly ~DKF for prompting me to make a final push before the deadline. That's years in the past now, but I hope you enjoy this version!