Compose in silhouette
To distribute the important story elements, I immediately start blocking out shapes in black and white, keeping in mind the rule of thirds. In this case, I want the pilot to be the focal point, so I’ll place him on the right third of the composition. Several lines are created off of the starship, to direct you to his head as well as a circle shape to help push contrast and focus.
Create a colour palette
I gather reference for the lighting arrangement as well as subject matter, and develop a colour palette to pick from when developing the image. This is a good approach to take when painting directly; it also keeps your colours fresh. I separate the lights and darks into the environment colours and the object colours, to distinguish between ambience and subject palettes.