I wrote a long series of sci fi novels called Terrah, 10 books in total. The heroine is a space fighter pilot. Though I take great pride in my work and the reception it got for its detailed descriptions, the one thing I lament every waking hour is having not included such a scene. This is what a beautiful, gorgeous, young creature should look like. Gentle in the embrace of murderous high end military technology.
I use photoshop and a wacom graphic tablet. other than that, nothing too fancy. I mostly use tools that are in MS Paint. started out on MS Paint and I think that's still a great and underrated program.