This is a fairly old tutorial, as you may notice by the version of Lightwave used! However, the principles are exactly the same in newer versions, and indeed you should be able to apply the ideas presented with pretty much any CGI software.
I have seen many rather poor attempts to make convincing ringed planets, and thought it might be a good idea to tell you how I do it. I rate it as intermediate in level, as I am not going to explain mouse click and numeric values. You should be familiar with making spheres and disks, and applying image based texture maps. I have done this tutorial as one long page, so it is easier for you to print. It should work with any version of Lightwave from 5.6 onward, and the ideas should also be easy to adapt to any other modern 3D graphics package.
This is an alternate design for the ship “Discovery” from the film 2001. In my view it is much inferior to the final version, but this is interesting. This one tends to self-shadow a lot for one thing, which makes it difficult to light. But note that the habitation sphere is identical to the final version used in the film – this element was about the only constant factor in the many design changes.
It is based on sketches in Chris Frayling’s excellent book “The 2001 Files”, and my version incorporates elements from several sketches.
I also did a turntable video of it, to show off the shape.
From other sketches it is clear that there are 48 fuel tanks just under the widest part of the vehicle.