Mon, Feb 22, 2021 at 12:34 PM
Oh, the logical design and evolution of this ship could easily become a hobby, all on its own! It might be a good idea to draw a line in the sand here, and say this is the final basic form. Your design makes sense, over all, in our made-up sort of future cargo ship logic, and that's good enough.
Stardrifter, as a whole, focuses less on dramatic space battles, as it does on ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. At least, that's how I see it. That being said, we'd still need some dynamism in any space vessel illustrations included in the rules. This ship could easily be on the cover of the rulebook, but wherever it appears, I think we'd want to see it in action.
To that end, maybe the image would show one of these approaching a huge cargo box. Another of them is already mated with the box, or is in the process of it (thereby illustrating how it works). And maybe we see a spacer or two on scoots, inspecting or fixing stuff, and a few drone thruster units and/or sensors moving into place along the hull of the box. In fact, we might want a spacer in the foreground, implying that this is ultimately a game about people living in outer space, as opposed to a game about outer space, where people just happen to be living.
Regarding fine detail work, I think a slightly different approach to the usual sort of thing you'd see in, say, Star Wars, is in order, based on the desire to minimize micrometeorite impacts/damage. We're looking for flat colors and a relative smoothness of design; but with prominent scarring from small, fast impacts, and a fair amount of industrial abuse. This last would include scrapes and scratches in the paint; gouges in the metal; obvious dents; and maybe even a few things clearly broken or missing. This would extend to the cargo box as well. Ships and boxes that aren't in use cost money, instead of make money, so they'd be in near-constant use. Once they leave the shipyard, no one would really care how they look, so long as they work.
The paint is solely a selling point, and might never get touched-up again, since there's no need to worry about corrosion or rust. Painting things white, or some other light color, for the sake of minimizing heat absorption, would entirely depend upon how far the vessel generally is from the primary in the star system, when working. The Tottenberg generally works at, and slightly in from, the jump point. Jump points vary from star to star, but they are never too close to it, since the star, itself, creates the biggest gravity shadow in the system.
I'd imagine a prospective player would expect to see this illustration in full color, and with a star field in the background. (Perhaps a cylindrical space station is in the distance? Just an idea.) In space, light tends to be very stark and harsh, since there's no diffusion of it through an atmosphere. This can create very deep shadows. If you chose to run with this level of realism (and there's absolutely no reason to, beyond personal preference), it might either be dramatic and cool, or just flat and obscuring. I'd leave that up to you. Alternately, we might assume the star system in the illustration is binary in nature, which opens up more lighting options.
Over all, I can't tell you what a delight it is to see this ship coming to life! You've really been amazing. I hope you're enjoying the process as much as I am.