Early on in the development of ORG we had to make some fundamental decisions about how we were going to approach ships and facilities.
One option was to utilize 2D illustration for ships and facilities; the other option was to utilize 3D modeling.
The benefit of the 2D approach would be that very little infrastructural work would be needed - each piece would require about the same amount of time and effort, and we could get start getting work done fairly quickly, especially as good 2D artists are a lot easier to find than good 3D artists.
The problem with this approach, is that we had decided we ultimately wanted hundreds, if not thousands of images. We didn't just want a single shot and angle of a freighter, but that freighter in dozens of different perspectives, backdrops, and secondary props. To do this, we had to go with 3D, even if it meant a lot more startup time as we had to model, texture, and then pose each type of ship or facility.
After a lot of time and work, we're starting to see the first models come through this process. The model below is a first draft rough of an "average" research vessel - note it still needs to be textured, tweaked, and have more polygons added to it to give it more depth, but this gives a good idea of some of the directions this kind of process takes.
For this ship, we wanted to emphasize the non-combat nature of it - it's breadth is pretty expansive, it has multiple habitat rings for generating a semblance of gravity during transit (multiple rings so that different numbers of Gs can be simultaneously simulated, either for comfort reasons or experimental purposes). The rotating habitat rings are segmented to allow for easy switching out of modules between missions - and also as a security and safety feature. It also has a large protruding section that can be used as a structural hard point for additional sensor arrays and similar elements to be affixed to.