This was the first sketch, which I did using the Intuos tablet (my initial sketches are usually pencil on paper):
Happy with the general composition, I opened a new canvas with the sketch as a layer which I could work over and continually refer to. I started off by blocking in the snowy background.
The next step was to create the half-submerged crashed spaceship. I wanted to give the impression that the viewer could only see a portion of what was clearly a bigger ship, so it's mainly the booster section that is on show, but with a conveniently located escape hatch!
Following this, I worked on some of the atmosphere; snow and cloud, and began to paint in the main astronaut's figure.
The final stage was the addition of the silhouetted opening which frames the image – this could be a nearby cave. I wanted to create a tension and feeling of apprehension as the figure gazes into the unknown.
Finally, details like astronaut's reflective visor, the planet's outer rings and various shadows and ice are added, and here is the end result!