• Graphic design
  • Metro
  • The making of the Moscow Metro round map

    OverviewProcess I• Process II

    Typefaces and icons

    Moving on to experiments with lines and stations.

    Per the client’s request, changing the typeface and transport pictograms.

    Saying goodbye to Direct typeface.

    Evaluating the maps rendered with Moscow Sans typeface and new icons.

    Making railway terminal icons larger, removing bus and suburban train routes, straightening the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line in the center, changing the layout of certain hubs such as Kitay-Gorod, Kurskaya and Park Kultury and Aeroexpress behavior at Kiyevskaya.


    Trying to get rid of the visual representation of transfers.

    This doesn’t work for several reasons:

    —To make sure captions for Ploschad Revolyutsii, Arbatskaya and Smolenskaya fit and the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line goes through Kiyevskaya, it needs to be bended four times, which is four more than permitted.

    —Pushkinskaya already felt crowded as it was, now it can’t fit between the green and gray lines as they are closer together.

    —Names of stations that used to be positioned nicely now start crawling up on to their neighbors (Chistye Prudy, Pushkinskaya, Okhotny Riad, Biblioteka Imeni Lenina, Arbatskaya of the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line, Smolenskaya of the Filyovskaya line).

    —There is no room for Borovitskaya at all.

    —Instead of being equally distributed in the area inside the circle, station names begin to crowd together (this can be seen on transfers Pushkinskaya—Tverskaya—Chekhovskaya and Chistye Prudy—Turgenevskaya—Sretensky Bulvar).

    The last point is best explained by the artistic director: “Your mash now has lumps in it.”

    Bringing back the transfer visualization but continuing our experiments. Trying to turn the “steering wheel” and the “traffic light” into regular circular transfers.

    Full of optimism, the designer is preparing for revolution and draws the “Goodbye steering wheel” postcard.

    But the art director suppresses the mutiny.

    Revolution failed.

    You Are Here marker

    Each station will have its own map which means the maps will need You Are Here markers. Testing different variants.




    Everything else.

    Suggesting options for stations sharing the same name.

    The worst fight for space is being fought inside the Circle line. Stations tend to collide with each other and the neighboring lines while lines have to break four times over just to pass all transfers and navigate around station names. The fight for each millimeter never stops even on the two-meter circular map. Which means that moving station names for the sake of the You Are Here marker is a no go.

    The most promising ideas are being tested on the proving grounds with the help of a piece of film and a cutting plotter.

    While working on the center of the map, creating a temporary Kremlin tower.

    Field trials

    When it comes to details, we can’t forget to try everything out in the field. Testing the map on the platform.

    And another full-scale mock-up on the wall at the station entrance.

    Getting color proofs on film. Choosing the color for the yellow line.

    Deciding on the circle colors and letter density.

    Meanwhile, field trials reveal that to comfortably read the map, a passenger needs to stand right in the way of moving crowds. Making the map smaller by several centimeters to bring the viewer closer. Larger not always means better.

    Typesetting the header

    Trying to adapt the header for various cases: platforms, simple vestibules, combined vestibules, complex transfer hubs.

    Transfers in different directions.

    One transfer in a single direction.

    One transfer with no direction.

    The process of map improvement consists of many microchanges. Taking two maps, for example from yesterday and today and blending them in Photoshop in Darken mode won’t reveal much. What’s really interesting is combining a couple months’ worth of mock-ups.

    Here we can see the traditional battlefield in the center and in the western part of the map.

    Marveling at how Shabolovskaya and Zyablikovo survived in this mess.

    Watching all the microchanges in a video.

    Studying comments from the leading designer and the art director.

    Looking at one of the designers’ Finder with map versions.

    Preparing the announcement.