With all the separate elements competing for attention in this composition, the play of light, the values and the contrast are going to play a big part in bringing everything together and creating some visual flow. I have a general idea how it should work, but the underpainting provides me with a chance to work out all the specifics. The first step is to get the black of space and the large pattern of lights and darks of the Earth in place.

The plan is to keep darker, mid-tones behind the boy’s face, providing contrast so he will stand out better against the background. The right side of the shuttle is brightly lit, but it’s in front of brighter areas of cloud. The idea is that a lower contrast jump will allow it to drop back a bit and not be the first thing your eye catches on. Similarly, most of the form of the space station is in shadow,  so it won’t compete too much with the brightly lit side of cardboard shuttle, and should drop back into the background.

Over the next few days as I get the underpainting for the shuttle and the station in place, I’ll be able to asses how well that plan is working, and adjust things if necessary. Ideally, by the time I get to painting color, the value scheme of the painting will be all worked out.