Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

We're used to marveling at the painted concept art that comes out alongside a big space epic. The incredible spaceship images, the gorgeous planetscapes. But back in the day, practical model builders created some views that were just as lovely.

You can see the results on screen: Star Trek II's battle scene in the Mutara Nebula looks like a painting come to life. But sometimes you catch a glimpse of a set photo or behind-the-scenes image, and it looks just as good. And you suddenly realize: these practical effects makers were creating these vistas in real life, with no tinkering afterwards.

Here are some of our favorite photos of model effects that look just as awesome as a painting.

As always, click to enlarge and see the full image — or right-click and select "open link in new tab."

Top image: Ship miniature by Scott Schneider for Alien Resurrection at conceptships.blogspot.com

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

"V-The Final Battle" mothership, model by Greg Jein. Photo from Stipes' Universe

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Romulan Spaceship by Greg Jein for Mike Okuda. Photo at Drex Files.

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Reaverized Serenity model used for hard the landing sequence by Grant McCune Design, Inc. Photo by Keelhauler FFP 01 at Flickr

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

The Nostromo's landing craft from Alien, by Visual Effects Supervisor Brian Johnson, supervising modelmaker Martin Bower, and their team at Bray Studios, based on combinations of Ridley Scott's storyboards and Ron Cobb's conceptual drawings. Photo from therpf.com

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

The refinery from Alien, photo from http://www.zen171398.zen.co.uk

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Spaceship 3 by Will112 at deviantART

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Mars by Matthew Albanese at behance.net

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Ship miniature by Scott Schneider for Alien Resurrection at conceptships.blogspot.com

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Ship miniature by Scott Schneider for Alien Resurrection at conceptships.blogspot.com

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Enterprise model, on display at the National Air and Space Museum

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Enterprise D four foot miniature. Photo from Drex Files

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Enterprise D shuttle miniature by Greg Jein, photo from Drex Files

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Bajoran raider studio model, photo from Memory Alpha

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Voyager model, photo from Memory Alpha

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Kazon fighter model from Star Trek: Voyager, photo from Memory Alpha

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Concept ship model by Arne Beck at Concept Ships

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

AT-ATs from The Empire Strikes Back, photo from Vanity Fair

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Dennis Murren in the Battle of Yavin IV, photo at May 25th, 1977

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

George Lucas and the Death Star, photo from Insight Editions

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

TIE Fighter test shot, from the rpf

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Star Destroyer tower, photo from Insight Editions

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Agroship from the original Battlestar Galactica, by Universal Hartland

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

War of the Gods Light Ship from the original Battlestar Galactica, at Universal Hartland

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Cylon Raider and Viper models from the original Battlestar Galactica, at Galacticaa.net

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Replica of the 6-foot-long model from the original Battlestar Galactica, photo from Fine Scale Modeler

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Gemini Freight and Theta Station from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, photo from Universal Hartland

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Sinaloa from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, photo from Universal Hartland

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Transporter from Space:1999, photo from Starship Modeler

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

The Hawk from Space:1999, photo from Starship Modeler

Model Shots That Look Beautiful Enough to be Paintings

Minas Tirith by Weta