• Graphic design
  • Metro
  • The making of the Science of the Future Metro train

    Overview• Process

    We get the task to design a train about science. Rough themes for the cars: health, humans and machines, energy, humanity and nature, space. It’s the same train that was the Shakespearean Passions train, a five-car Rusich-type number 81-7401.

    We can explain complex things in a simple way, with scribing. It looks like vandalism from the outside but is quite interesting on the inside.

    Overall, we want the exterior to be abstract but active and the interior to be more detailed.

    Talking to the client and getting feedback:

    “The key thing is that the train should be futuristic and about science, with a reference to the UK. For the exterior, we like the total design solution best. Inside, each car can be dedicated to its own theme, but through the lens of humans and their practical participation. (Five themes: health, humans and machines, nature and ecology, home of the future, cities of the future, for example. We will discuss the themes in greater detail with our science advisor.)

    Now for the design solutions. We imagine a solid white background for the exterior with laconic red (navy) graphic elements. First of all, white alludes to the future, secondly, we’ve never seen white Metro trains before and finally, it’s a reference to the logo of the project. Can we try this idea out and see what it looks like? Outside, laconic and minimalist, with hashtags #sciencetrain and #научпоезд.

    Inside, bright and diverse in its use of graphic elements, photos and text.

    The second idea is to consider using pop art elements on the exterior and make the train bright and colorful. Still, the theme of science and Britain has to be maintained without going too much into digital.”

    Inviting a second designer to help with the exterior.

    Inside, deciding to replace noisy scribing with infographics-inspired design.

    The client asks to tone down the design somewhat, right now it looks too much like pop art. It has to be something between the current design and one from the first presentation with the pictures of the DNA and scissors on white background.

    It’s also very important that in addition to being cool, the train is associated with Britain. It would be great to introduce the colors or elements of the British flag. The client also asks to simplify the science graphic elements: right now they are too abstract, making it difficult for viewers to understand that the train is about science.

    Making the connecting pattern from the elements of the flag, slightly softening the noise and simplifying. Adding elements from chemical formulas.

    Sketching pictures illustrating scientific facts for the interior.

    Large and colorful go on the doors.


    Large typography.

    More ideas.

    Adding abstract 3D objects.

    Getting more feedback from the British Council:

    “The most important thing: the name of the train is Future Science. On the exterior, the content must introduce people, specific British and Russian scientists who made a contribution to the science of the future or is making it today.

    The content inside should be rich and varied, and among other things reflect the scientific links between the two countries.

    The bottom line is that in terms of design we are leaning towards the latter idea, but let’s take all the best from the Energy idea, that is the white background and clear details.”

    Moving on.

    The Space car inside.

    The client approves the concept. Creating sketches for other cars, typesetting information in blocks.

    Considering the selfie spot.

    Deciding to tone down the color palette, this will make 3D objects better visible.

    Generating ideas for themed merchandise.

    Suddenly, the train changes, and with it the layout. Instead of four doors we now have six.

    Running to the train yard to recheck everything.

    It becomes clear that we can’t properly connect together the large illustrations on the top of the doors if we are to keep them as they are, encroaching onto top panels. Deciding to put them only on the doors and adjoining columns.

    The art director asks to add linear illustrations to 3D objects. Since the new train has more space, lowering some of the facts on to walls.

    Deciding to put additional trivia above the doors, to the left and right of the train screen. Choosing a minimalist style for illustrations.

    Searching for suitable metaphors.

    Working with shapes.

    Going to the train yard again.

    Making sure everything is almost completely OK, making small changes.

    Adding information about the project and a timeline with key events on door frames.

    The exterior of the train should feature a large logo of the UK-Russia Year of Science and Education. Making it more modern, the British Council doesn’t mind.

    The client wants the project to have its own logo. Sure. Twisting the spiral into the letter M.

    Everybody likes it, but the Metro does not approve. Then using the same idea for the letter S (for science). Approved!

    Sketches of the front of the train.

    The client approves the design with an alien and a robot. Developing it further.

    At the end, the British Council decides to keep only the robot.

    Preparing mock-ups for demonstration to the UK ambassador and final approval by the Moscow Metro.

    Meanwhile, the work on selfie spots is under way. The client really wants there to be a no-name robot (to avoid any copyright issues). Deciding to combine it with the space theme and use in the two end cars: Humans and Machines and Space.

    The designer wants the robot to make bunny ears with one hand and hold a cat in another.

    Starting to create a model. Doesn’t look right.

    Fellow coworkers from the industrial design department give advice.

    Here he is!


    Coming up with a background.

    And the cat!

    Bending the thumb, trying to make sure the robot doesn’t look like he had a circular saw accident. Despite our best efforts, the client insists we remove the cat :(

    All approvals have been received, preparing mock-ups for printing.

    The cars have complex layout inside with lots of nooks, radii and slanted surfaces. Cutting up the layout in a way that would make application easier and avoid important details getting onto joints.

    Creating a detailed map of the cars to make everyone understands what goes where.

    Putting together a presentation with all the elements.

    The day before launch.