The Apex Observatory environment turned out to be too ambitious, and I made some bad decisions in the beginning which greatly slowed me down. So in order to complete something by the time of graduation I decided to scale things down and focus on a hero prop for the environment while I sort out the rest.
Unlike my usual workflow of modeling a highpoly and baking down maps I decided to try something different. All the detailing on the telescope was done 100% in Photoshop using the plugin nDo2. The plugin is also nice enough to generate AO and cavity, which I used as a nice base for the texture. Quixel's new plugin dDo was released just as I was done texturing my telescope, which is a shame because it would have made the process a lot faster.
In retrospect I should have been better at reusing details and features on it, particularly on the cylindrical parts as they are all rather similar. It would have saved me a ton of time. Also I should have made the mechanism at the base more nonsensical and interesting looking since the whole design is very whimsical.
Now I am doing a quick and very simple environment for it to live in. I'm going with the same basic idea as the Apex Observatory where a rickety and precarious observatory has been built on a very high and narrow peak above the clouds. Except now it's scaled down to a single eccentric astronomer living as a hermit on a tiny patch of land. Here is an early iteration: