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How to Create a Vintage Soviet Space Travel Poster in Adobe InDesign

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This post is part of a series called Science Week.
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What You'll Be Creating

A tribute to the Soviet era of space travel, this poster uses retro typography, vintage textures and a Soviet-inspired color palette to evoke the atmosphere of the 1950s Space Race. 

This tutorial is a great introduction to more advanced print design techniques for intermediate InDesign users. 

You can find more poster templates and inspiration over on Envato Elements and GraphicRiver.

Let’s get started!

What You’ll Need to Create Your Poster

You’ll need access to Adobe InDesign for creating the main layout of your poster, as well as access to Adobe Illustrator or other vector software to open vector graphics. 

You’ll also need the following fonts and images to create the design:

Install the Sputnik font on your computer, and you’re ready to start designing your poster.

1. How to Set Up Your Poster in InDesign

Step 1

Open InDesign and go to File > New > Document. 

Select Print for the Intent of the document, and set the Page Size to A3 Portrait. 

Add 5 mm Margins and a 5 mm Bleed, before clicking Create

new documentnew documentnew document

Step 2

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and rename Layer 1 as Starry sky. 

Create six more new layers in this order: Highlights, Planets, Satellite, Border, Type and, finally, Texture.

layer optionslayer optionslayer options

Lock all layers except the bottom layer, Starry sky. 

Step 3

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and choose New Color Swatch from the panel’s main menu. 

Set the levels to C=5 M=95 Y=90 K=1, and click Add and Done.

Repeat the process to create eight more new CMYK swatches:

  • C=12 M=11 Y=32 K=0
  • C=12 M=11 Y=14 K=33
  • C=5 M=92 Y=96 K=0
  • C=7 M=66 Y=89 K=0
  • C=0 M=84 Y=90 K=0
  • C=0 M=72 Y=90 K=0
  • C=7 M=44 Y=89 K=0
  • C=86 M=78 Y=51 K=67
swatch optionsswatch optionsswatch options

Step 4

Select New Gradient Swatch from the Swatches panel’s menu. 

new gradient swatchnew gradient swatchnew gradient swatch

Name the swatch Background Gradient and set the Type to Linear

Click on the left-hand stop on the Gradient Ramp and set this to C=86 M=78 Y=51 K=67 from the Swatches menu. Set the right-hand stop to [Black] and pull the left-hand swatch along the ramp about halfway. 

new gradient swatchnew gradient swatchnew gradient swatch

Click Add and Done.

2. How to Create a Starry Backdrop for Your Poster

Step 1

Working on the Starry sky layer, use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape across the whole page, extending the edge up to the bleed. 

Set the Fill Color to Background Gradient.

gradient backgroundgradient backgroundgradient background

Step 2

Use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame over the top-left corner of the page. 

File > Place, navigate to the Star Patterns folder, and choose the ‘2.png’ file, clicking Place, and allowing it to fill up the frame. 

star patternstar patternstar pattern

Copy and Paste the frame, moving the second over to cover the top-right corner of the page. 


Step 3

Select both image frames and go to Object > Effects > Gradient Feather. 

Set the Angle to 90 Degrees, and click OK.

gradient feathergradient feathergradient feather

3. How to Add Planets to Your Poster

Step 1

Lock the Starry sky layer and unlock the Planets layer. 

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and, holding Shift, drag to create a very large circle, allowing just the top-left quarter to appear on the bottom-right corner of the page. 

Set the Fill Color of the shape to C=7 M=66 Y=89 K=0.

orange shapeorange shapeorange shape

Step 2

With the circle selected, go to Object > Effects > Outer Glow. 

Bring the Opacity down to around 55%, and set the Size to 9 mm, Noise to 13%, and Spread to 25%. 

Click on the colored square to the right of the Mode menu to open the Effect Color window. Choose C=12 M=11 Y=32 K=0 for the color and click OK. Click OK again to exit the window. 

effect coloreffect coloreffect color

Step 3

Copy and Paste the orange circle, and scale it down to create a much smaller planet. Right-Click > Arrange > Send to Back, and adjust the Fill Color to C=5 M=92 Y=96 K=0.

red planetred planetred planet

Continue to Paste more planets, creating a diagonal sequence extending up to the top-left corner of the page. Adjust the size and Fill Color of each planet to create variation. 


Add more circles next to some of the planets, set in C=12 M=11 Y=32 K=0, to create moons.


Step 4

Open the ‘Moon-03-Inverted.eps’ vector from the Lunar Moons set in Illustrator. Select the vector and Edit > Copy it.

moon vectormoon vectormoon vector

Return to InDesign and Edit > Paste the moon directly onto the layout.

You can also open the ‘Moon-02.eps’ vector in Illustrator, selecting just the finely lined edge and copying this over to InDesign too. 

copied linecopied linecopied line

Step 5

Scale the moons together to create one image, and set the Color Fill to C=12 M=11 Y=32 K=0. Position it over the top-right of the red planet.

Right-Click > Group the two moon vectors together and add an Outer Glow as with the other planets (Object > Effects > Outer Glow).

group elementsgroup elementsgroup elements

Step 6

Open the Satellite EPS vector in Illustrator

Right-Click > Ungroup the left-hand part of the image.


Delete the starry background, and select only the satellite image. Edit > Copy it. 

vector shapevector shapevector shape

Step 7

Back in InDesign, lock the Planets layer and unlock the Satellite layer. 

Edit > Paste the satellite directly onto the page and position it somewhere over the starry sky on the right side of the layout. Switch the Fill to C=12 M=11 Y=14 K=33, and add an outer glow (Object > Effects > Outer Glow).

grey satellitegrey satellitegrey satellite

Copy and Edit > Paste in Place the grey satellite, and use the arrow keys to shift it slightly downwards and to the left. Switch the Fill of this copy to C=5 M=95 Y=90 K=1.

red satellitered satellitered satellite

With this red satellite selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency, and pull the Opacity down to 60%. Click OK


Step 8

Lock the Satellite layer and unlock the Highlights layer. 

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a circle shape a little larger than the large orange planet, and position it centrally under this. Set the Fill to an orange swatch. 


With the circle selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Screen and Opacity to 15%. Click OK


Step 9

Copy and Paste the circle a few times, enlarging each to create a sequence of curves around the edge of the large orange planet. 

Reduce the Opacity of each circle gradually, to create a gradient effect. 

poster so farposter so farposter so far

4. How to Create a Border and Format Typography on Your Poster

Step 1

Lock the Highlights layer and unlock the Border layer.

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a rough border around the perimeter of the page, using the margin line as a guide for its width. 

Don’t worry about making it perfectly straight—the more imperfect the edges, the more vintage it will appear.


Step 2

When you’re finished, set the Fill of the border to C=12 M=11 Y=32 K=0. 

fill of borderfill of borderfill of border

With the border selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Screen and reduce the Opacity slightly, to 95%. 


Step 3

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a rough rectangle across the bottom of the page, setting the Fill to C=5 M=95 Y=90 K=1.

red shapered shapered shape

Right-Click > Arrange Send to Back, to push it behind the border. 

send to backsend to backsend to back
red shapered shapered shape

Use the Pen Tool (P) to add a small top border to the rectangle, setting the Fill to C=12 M=11 Y=32 K=0.

pen toolpen toolpen tool

Step 4

Lock the Border layer and unlock the layer above, Type.

Use the Type Tool (T) to create a large text frame across the right two-thirds of the red rectangle. 

Type in ‘SPACE’ and, from either the top Controls panel or the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character), set the Font to Sputnik Inline, Size 170 pt. 

Set the Font Color to C=12 M=11 Y=32 K=0.

sputnik inlinesputnik inlinesputnik inline

Step 5

Add two more text frames to the left of this, typing in ‘TRAVEL’ and ‘INTO’, before setting the Font to Sputnik Rough and adjusting the Font Size and Tracking to fit into the available space.

Set the Font Color of these to C=12 M=11 Y=32 K=0.

sputnik roughsputnik roughsputnik rough

Select all three text frames and go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Screen and reduce the Opacity to 80%. Click OK


Step 6

Lock the Type layer and unlock the top layer, Texture

Use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame across the top-left quarter of the page. 

File > Place, go to the Vintage Grit Textures folder you downloaded earlier and Open the ‘Grit-06.png’ file, allowing it to fill up the frame. 

texture layertexture layertexture layer

With the image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Screen and reduce the Opacity to 25%. Click OK.


Step 7

Copy and Paste the image frame, positioning it over on the top-right quarter of the page. 

image frameimage frameimage frame

Select both frames, and Copy and Paste them, moving these over the lower half of the page. 

texture pastedtexture pastedtexture pasted

Your poster artwork is finished—great work! All that’s left to do is to export it to a usable format. Read on to find out how. 

5. How to Export Your Poster

Step 1

Go to File > Export and give your file a suitable name. 

Choose JPEG or PNG to create an image you can share online, or choose Adobe PDF (Print) if you’re sending off your poster to be printed professionally. If you choose the latter, you can follow the instructions below.

Click Save

export pdfexport pdfexport pdf

Step 2

In the Export Adobe PDF window that opens, choose [Press Quality] from the Preset menu at the top. 

press qualitypress qualitypress quality

Click on Marks and Bleeds in the window’s left-hand menu. Check both All Printer’s Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings. 

Hit Export, and InDesign will create a PDF file which is ready for sending straight off to print. 

marks and bleedsmarks and bleedsmarks and bleeds

Conclusion: Your Finished Poster

Your vintage space travel poster is finished, and it’s looking brilliant—awesome work! As well as creating a cool vintage poster, you’ve also picked up some handy print design skills over the course of this tutorial, such as:

  • How to prepare a poster template in InDesign.
  • How to import vector graphics into your layout.
  • How to apply glows, textures and transparencies to build depth in your design.
  • How to format professional-standard typography for your design.
  • How to export your hard work ready for professional printing.

Looking for more vintage elements to use in your poster designs? You can find more aged textures and vintage fonts over on GraphicRiver and Envato Elements

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