DTC 201: Spring 2021: Major Project #2: Space Travel Poster


In this assignment, you will use Adobe Illustrator to create a full-page space travel poster that imitates the style of vintage travel and destination posters. You will also submit a short essay that answers specific questions about your work. Final deliverables are due before class on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, although milestones are due on March 9 and March 16.

See below for:

Detailed Description

Class lectures on space travel reviewed a variety of possible methods from the book Soonish:

  • Reusable Rockets
  • Air-breathing Rockets and Spaceplanes
  • Giant Giant Giant Enormous Mega-Superguns
  • Laser Ignition
  • Start High: Mountaintops, Rockoons, Aircraft-launched, Stratospheric Spaceports
  • Space Elevators and Space Tethers

Some are more fanciful than others, but all have been considered (or are being actively researched) in one way or another.

Also as reviewed in class, travel and destination posters from the 1900s, especially the 1930s–1960s, featured a specific style that was the result of lithographic printing techniques: flat, crisp, solid shapes of colors; very few hints of texture; and a limited color palette. Review these sites for examples:

In this assignment, you will use Adobe Illustrator to create one travel poster for either:

  1. a specific method of space travel, as if it was available today for regular consumer travel; or
  2. a fictional space destination (such as a planet) that such travel could take you to. (You can imagine any real planet or location, or make up an entirely fictional one, but you cannot illustrate a destination from a movie or book, such as Tatooine or Arrakis.)

Your poster must meet the following requirements:

  • The poster must be only vector art drawn in Illustrator, with no bitmap/raster images.
    • You may use bitmap images in order to trace vector shapes you need, but the final layout must only use vector shapes.
    • You may not use tracing for more than half of the elements in your layout.
    • If you do trace bitmap images, then you must document them and include the original images with the project.
    • You may not use online vector clip art or stock illustrations.
  • The poster must include at least:
    • One person (silhouettes are fine);
    • One man-made object (building, rocket, etc.); and
    • One naturally-occurring non-person object (planet, mountain, etc.).
    • You may include more of any of these.
  • The poster must use one or more of the visual composition guidelines reviewed in class.
  • In terms of colors:
    • The poster must use between 4 and 12 different color swatches; no less and no more.
    • Colors must be solid, without texture effects.
    • However, you can use gradients that fade between two colors, and use transparency effects to make solid colors appear layered, as could be achieved with careful lithographic techniques. The resulting colors/shades will not be considered additional color swatches.
  • Your poster must contain two lines of text on it:
    • A large major title of your travel method or destination; and smaller secondary text that is promotional.
    • Examples from vintage travel posters: “Fly TWA” or “Only 36 Hours Away”.
  • The typography on your poster must also be done in a style appropriate to these vintage travel posters.
  • Some vintage travel posters drew their figures and objects with geometric and angled lines, instead of realistic. You may also do this, as long as all the figures and objects on the poster seem to be in the same style.
  • The poster dimensions must be 20″ x 30″.

Learning Adobe Illustrator

Illustrator basics have been introduced in multiple class demos and lab working sessions. You should also work through the series of Adobe Illustrator tutorials provided in class.


  • Images: A 20″ x 30″ space travel/destination poster as a PDF file.
  • Link to your project in your cloud storage: a URL to the shared folder containing your project material: your original files, your working files, and your final files, as described in the organizational guidelines.
  • Written documentation: if you have traced any bitmap images, you must document them with citations.
  • Written essay: a well-written essay of 750 words or more that answers these questions:
    • Why did you pick this particular travel method or destination?
    • What poster images from the sites above (or elsewhere on the internet) inspired your particular layout and color scheme? How are they connected to your poster? Include images, or at least links.
    • What composition guideline(s) did you use in your image?
  • Link to this project in your online portfolio: a URL to the standalone page that features images from this project’s layout.

Or, to put it another way:

  • You will upload 2 files to this assignment via Blackboard:
    1. Your final PDF image, and
    2. Your essay as a Word or PDF document.
  • You will include 3 links in the assignment text box on Blackboard:
    1. The “sharing” link/URL to your main project folder up on cloud storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), and 
    2. The “sharing” link/URL to your documentation spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and
    3. The link/URL to this project’s page on your online portfolio.

Note: “sharing” links for cloud storage and Google Sheets are not the same as the page URL when you’re looking at them online. You have to select the “Share” feature in your cloud storage and in Google Sheets to find and copy the sharing link.

Milestones & Deadlines

As noted on the course calendar, the project’s Milestones are:

  • Rough drafts of your poster should be shared as links to PDF files (on your cloud storage) for group critiques via Blackboard as follows:
    • Milestone #1: bring to class on Tuesday, March 9, to be posted, and then to critique 2+ classmate’s drafts.
    • Milestone #2: bring to class on Tuesday, March 16, to be posted, and then to critique 2+ classmate’s drafts.

Final deliverables are due before class on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 via Blackboard.

Grading Considerations

You will be graded on the following aspects:

  • 50%: Your ability to demonstrate Illustrator skills reviewed in class and in tutorials, such as: drawing objects, clipping masks, using type, using bitmap tracing, and more.
  • 20%: Your visual design: the clear connection to vintage travel poster styles, and use of one or more of the image composition guidelines reviewed in class.
  • 10%: The organization of your documentation, files, and folders according to course guidelines, as well as your online portfolio page.
  • 10%: The quality of your essay.
  • 10%: The quality of your milestones: the draft images you post, and your responses/critiques of classmate’s images.

A baseline 75% C-level project would only include the minimal number of elements; only include crude or roughly drawn elements; have a mismatched array of visual styles; use limited organization of the document folders and Illustrator layers; submit an essay that is not particularly detailed or thoughtful; post milestone drafts that show minimal effort (especially from draft to draft); and/or write critiques that are not particularly thoughtful.

Your grade would go up by including more elements; drawing/creating more detailed elements; combining elements more skillfully and with more unified style; being very detailed about your documentation, file, and layer organization; submitting an essay that is thoughtful and well-written; posting drafts that show thoughtful improvements; and/or writing thoughtful critiques.