Drawing inspiration from images is something I think every writer does in one form or another. When you work outside this realm of reality, however, it gets a little tougher to find images that suit your vision.
I started drawing characters and scenes from my SF stories in the eighth grade. I made my own cover art and story illustrations by tracing body shapes out of comic books and magazines before coloring them blue, giving them tusks or a face full of tentacles, etc.
I graduated from pencils and markers to acrylics in high school, and then to oils and watercolors in my twenties. Watercolors eventually won out, although sometimes when I see some of the amazing paintings SF artists achieve I wish I had stuck with oils a bit longer (the mess of working with them is what did me in.)
Here's a watercolor I did a few years back for a book of poetry. The non-human figure is one of my characters from Omega Games:
I can't paint much these days, so I've moved on to exploring what can be done with photoshopping and digital photography. I am strictly an amateur, but still I'm finding a whole new world of creative possibilities have opened up for me. Even doing something as simple as manipulating the colors of a photo can take a very ordinary image and make it look quite unearthly:
It's nice to know that while I may not be able to swing a brush around, or remember how to spell planetary correctly, I can still create images that help jumpstart my muse.
What do you all do when you need an inspirational image? SF writers, do you have an special resources you use for things that are out of this world?