Matt Walker




Space Capsule Badges

Mea Culpa

I decided to take this class because I need to work on simplifying things and, most of all, leaving them that way. I tend to piddle around in details, get lost in them, then look up and realize I have produced something way, way too complicated. Icons need to be simple. I need to hang out with simple for a while. This course (though I will enjoy it) is a kind of summer pennace for a semester spent overburdening people visually.

Mind Map

All over the place--but I suppose that's sort of the point. Started with motorcycles, moved to cars, then to airplanes, detoured at airline related subjects, wandered over to rockets and finally wound up hanging out with space capsules.


I sketched the rough ideas out on some scrap tracing paper sheets which have since been lost. Here's what wound up in the sketch book. I roughed stuff out, then went over it to refine it, then started breaking the capsules down into basic geometric shapes, then fiddled with shading for a bit. Decided on the following 6 capules: Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo (US) and Voskod, Vostok, and Soyouz (USSR).

Sloppily thinking about enclosures and banners here. Sort of a barf the junk out early in order to move on to better ideas exercise.

More enclosure/banner sketching. I got bogged down here for a while. Liking the ones with the arrows. Feeling like military-esque shoulder patches. Feel like that's appropriate given that all of the capsules I'll be doing were products of the Cold War and the space programs of both countries were really nothing more than extensions of their militaries.

Mood Board and Inspiration

Really dig the 1950s and early 1960s vibe going on here, especailly the colors. Hope to try to carry that feel through into the vector stage and think color choices are going to be an important part of that.

So, after poking around Dribbble, found inspiration and ideas here:

and here:

and here:

and, finally, here:

Initial Vector Work - Capsules USSR

Here are my first three attempts at rendering the Soviet capsules in Illustrator. Tried to keep the component shapes as simple as possible. The two on the left (Vostok/Voskod) are looking better than the one on the right (Soyouz). Tried to keep details to a minimum but still have enough going on that it wasn't boring. Haven't applied even a hypothetical palette to anything yet, green was just what I picked to start roughing these out. The background is black because, well, it's space. 

Further Vector Work and Color

Here are the refined vectors for the six capsules. Still some things to cut for the sake of simplification. The colors are close to what the real things were.

Experimenting with color. Some of this is pretty painful.

Finally settled on a monochrome palette for each country's capsules. Got the inspiration from this:

... and the idea for the two colors I used from the above and from this:

..which I applied like this:

...with some shading:


Decided to go with my original idea of enclosing these in the shapes of military arm patches. Research for this consisted of some pretty serious Googling. I found military shoulder patches run the gamut for shapes but some of the most common are a badge shape with what is called a "tab" above them containing text. A guy learns all sorts of things when he becomes involved in graphic design.

I decided to give each country a differently shaped patch as I had already given each country's capsules different monochromatic schemes. Not totally happy with the shape of the American patches, especially where the oval shape of the bottom portion meets the square shape of the middle portion. I think the Russian patch shapes are more interesting.

Space Capsule Badges, Now Available with Extra Contrast and Fewer Extraneous Details!

And with nation-appropriate patriotic colors, which were done on a whim but I sort of like:


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