metro map tizer
Map 1.0
metro map2 tizer
Map 2.0

Official maps:
metro line map tizer active
Line maps

The making of the line maps for Moscow Metro cars

Overview   Process   Real Life  

While the car map is still a work in progress, we start working on the line maps. They have to be the younger brothers of the full version of the map and maintain the principles that it laid out.

Making the first sketches, transferring them to InDesign, assembling all the internals, setting up the styles. Let’s roll.

metro line map process 01

Trying to space the stations to reflect the actual travel time. Starting with the longer lines.

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We manage to place them according to minutes of travel time, but the captions look messy and the names are cramped which makes the varied distances between stations difficult to comprehend. Rotating the text 30° to make station names more legible and the map neater.

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Trying it on a wall and comparing different options. Common sense tells us that the rotated text is a dubious solution, even though it looks much cleaner compared to our first drafts. Meanwhile, the wish list of the contest committee is ready, and the free space at the bottom will allow us to neatly place all the required information.

With a slight movement of the hand the Circle line appears on the map.

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The Circle line should become an additional landmark for passengers, but must not steal all the attention. Trying different options and taking the middle ground between subtle hints and a thick line right in your face.

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Making another attempt at creating a reference to real-life geography: bending and tilting the lines the same way they look on the full map.

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The smile on the blue one looks funny and would better work for the Circle line, while the map for the red line makes it look like there is a sharp 90° turn right before the Yugo-Zapadnaya station (and also reminds of Super Mario somehow). It is more questionable than useful. Dropping this idea.

Having added the Circle line we now don’t know what to do with the transfer stations.

metro line map process 07

Trying to maintain consistency. Lots of attention was devoted to how the transfer stations look on the full map. You can’t just change from Borovitskaya directly to Arbatskaya. In order to change from Biblioteka to Aleksandrovsky Sad you don’t have to go through Borovitskaya and Arbatskaya. But somehow the line maps do not reflect any of this. Definitely, that’s not the way to go.

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Maybe separate the circles?

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Nope, it looks like garden peas. How about total consistency?

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A minute of delirium.

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London says hi.

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Resounding no to the rainbow. Temporarily suspending the transfer stations problem.

Placing all the information provided by the contest committee. Printing all we have and putting it up on the wall.

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The first rule of the project: when in doubt, put the printout on the wall. The wall makes everything clear.

The minute numbers work poorly, create noise and it’s not even clear that it’s travel time. The double Circle line looks like it’s under construction.

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Taking the minutes idea a step further: what we need is to show them in a clear, unobstructive way.

We started with the scale below the map, thinking that it will be easy to visually correlate the station stubs with the marks on the scale. Next, the scale marks were joined by the marks on the line itself: since the minutes relate to the line, that’s where they should be marked.

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Still wrong. Other alternatives.

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Another moment of delirium: it seems that the grid is the most clear and beautiful option.

As a joke, trying this out. Alternating colors—very funny.

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There, just what we need! Fun-looking, beautiful, unobstructive and easy to read. Even the squares with line numbers on transfer stations look nice. Assembling the whole lot. Brilliant!

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All until one fine day the art director comes by and declares the ultimatum: station names on line maps must be horizontal.

Designers: But it just won’t fit.

Art director: Like I give a fuck. Arrange them horizontally. One way or another.

Another way:

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All right, placing them horizontally.

In one line, staggered, with and without minute marks.

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All in one line is too cramped and the text is too small. The staggered layout now looks much better than on previous drafts. The minute marks will have to die: on the staggered layout they interfere with positioning of station names. Dropping them out.

Making corrections. Assembling new mock-ups and visiting the train yard to try them out in natural environment.

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Listening to the comments.

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Increasing the font size. Trying to show overground stretches.

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Having a fresh look at the maps and deciding that visual continuity of transfer stations is more important than the way they look. The circles make their comeback from the full map. By this time the main map has been used in cars for several months. Taking into account the passengers’ complaints about the text being too light we make the font bolder.

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The monorail interchange has been free of charge for quite a while now, we need to show this on the map as well. Trying to make an interconnection, but it ruins the staggered pattern. Deciding to leave Altufyevo either on top or at the bottom.

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Choosing the way to show the Kahovskaya line on the map for the Zamoskvoretskaya line. The problem here is that some trains follow to the train yard by driving off the green line. The public announcement in the train says “This train will proceed to the Varshavskaya station,” and if the map doesn’t reflect this, passengers might get confused.

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Assembling everything several times over, correcting tons of little flaws. Reviewing.

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At the very last moment we succumb to the Department of Transport request to change the line number squares to circles. Submitting the maps for color proofing, loosing a piece of the river, putting it back, checking everything for the twentieth time, sending to print. Done.

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