• Graphic design
  • Metro
  • The making of the Shakespearean Passions Metro train design

    Overview• Process

    Studying the world experience of branding metro trains.

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    The first approach, getting a feel for the right direction. How can a train dedicated to Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary look? A theater curtain?

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    Vandalized by street art? After all, we are after a young audience here.

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    Dialogs of passengers-characters?

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    Or maybe let the author speak for himself?

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    Themed cars based on play plots?

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    Reconstruction of the Globe theater? We can use fachwerk on cars’ exterior, it would look pretty and should match their shape nicely.

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    We can bring the theater inside as well: take the most striking quotes from Shakespeare’s plays and put them in speech bubbles near passenger’s heads. This should yield some really nice results. Poetry of chance and spots for taking a selfie with a quote. We can also use mini dialogs for nearby seats, making it look like a comic strip.

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    One of the recommendations of the British Council was to follow the style of the global project Shakespeare Lives.

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    What if the cars had questions on the outside and passengers would need to look for answers inside? A quest train.

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    Maybe, use this bright style to illustrate the plays? Each car is a new play, comedy alternates with drama.

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    The interior will have a plot timeline, key moments and infographics with fun facts.

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    Some of the phrases from the plays can be encoded into graphic sound waves that can be read with a special app.

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    Or use 3D augmented reality.

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    Getting the layout of the train, red areas must remain untouched.

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    Another idea is to create a news website populated by news from plays. It will be a newsfeed from Venice, Verona, Scotland, Denmark. You enter the car and find out all the latest developments from the life of the characters. We can span the whole thing over six months and write news in dry official language: “A body of a young woman later identified as Ophelia was found in a river.”

    Showing all the ideas to the client and discussing. The ones with graffiti and bright colorful cars are discarded immediately. Although the client admits that the result should look modern.

    Overall, the client likes the idea of designing the cars based on the plays. The discussion gives birth to another idea: choose a unique theme for each car with cars for love, friendship, fate, feud, etc.

    Moving on.

    What if we show connections between main characters outside? We can give visual spoilers about who is in love with who, who is about to kill and who is driven by revenge.

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    Meeting with the client again. The client wants more realistic illustrations: a Shakespeare’s portrait and Pre-Raphaelite paintings should work.

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    All in all, we have four cars, each made of two parts. And lots of plays. It would make more sense to break each car down into two halves.

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    Or maybe better make a smooth transition from one scene into the next? The illustrator sketches locations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet.

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    As well as pictures for decorating quotes inside the cars.

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    Generating another concept where everyone is an actor. We can use gestures (postures or facial expressions) to show various feelings, take photographs, mark them with hashtags and publish to Instagram. There will be a contest for the best one with a trip to England as a prize.

    Another idea: put mirrored selfie film inside cars and have Shakespeare himself encouragingly wink from near the window. All the world’s a stage.

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    Considering other ideas for using typography to decorate cars.

    Hashtags and emotions?

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    Coming up with a layout for quotes inside cars.

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    Presenting two concepts to the client.

    The first one, Shakespearean Passions.

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    The second, As You Like It.

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    Receiving major feedback: when the train arrives to the platform, passengers can’t see that it’s about Shakespeare, we need to make it more visual. We also need more quotes as the primary aim of the program is to introduce a wide audience to Shakespeare’s heritage. They like the idea with selfie mirrors but don’t like the winking Shakespeare which looks a bit mocking.

    Getting some comments:

    Concept 1

    1. The implementation of the emotions idea is far away from Shakespeare, it lacks a connection with his plays. Faces on the cars’ exterior don’t go in line with our common idea, Shakespeare Lives. Overall, the idea is interesting but needs better development as well as a clear connection with Shakespeare’s works.

    2. Interior design is interesting but very gloomy. We don’t want to use such dark colors.

    3. We don’t like the idea with multiple hashtags as they will not help raise awareness of the project and will create too many associations not connected with the project.

    Concept 2

    1. Overall, we like the style of the exterior illustrations, but once again we would prefer to move away from dark colors and to use a brighter and more cheerful color scheme. We also like the theater curtain illustration.

    2. 2. When using each play, we need to answer the following questions:
    — What exactly should people think about in connection to this play?
    — How the design elements will inspire passengers to think about the main idea of the play?
    — How will the passengers interact with design elements?
    — How can we convey the plot/idea of the play with the help of design? For example, the Romeo and Juliet car can be divided into two parts lengthwise, each for Montague and Capulet with different quotes and symbols in each part.

    3. We need to consider the choice of plays, we are not sure that Hamlet, for example, will be suitable for the Metro.

    4. We don’t like the interior design, smaller elements and black-and-white patterns can become invisible in rush hour.

    OK, in an effort not to lose the first concept altogether, trying to catch the required emotional hashtags in poems. It gives us more Shakespeare on the exterior.

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    We can also connect the Shakespearean Passions slogan with emotions. Shakespeare Lives: the train moves, the emotions quickly replace one another.

    Hmm, what if we use character portraits with overlaid details characteristic of Shakespeare’s era? Inside we’ll have them as well, but with quotes flavored with hashtags.

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    Getting inspired by period clothing.

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    Applying graphics, choosing the background.

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    What if we make them interact? Any feelings can be expressed in a dialog.

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    Deciding to replace hashtags with Emoji which will allow us to tie characters together. Assembling a presentation and sending to the client.

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    Yes! After a week of consideration and internal demonstrations, the client approves the concept.

    Giving the task to our Shakespeare expert to find around 80 quotes with required words.

    Now we need to properly distribute work to make sure we finish on time. We need to define the number of actors for the photo shoot and estimate the time required by the illustrator to draw their costumes. Also, to come up with the location of the quotes and other information inside the cars.

    The client wants the logo of the main sponsor to be featured on the exterior. Adding it to make sure it alternates with Shakespearean Passions.

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    Initially we wanted to create a special set of Emoji.

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    But later decided to use standard pixelized ones.

    Printing out mock-ups and going to the Metro to try them on.

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    Continuing the search for the quotes’ design.

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    Deciding to go with large white bars supported by smaller black ones.

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    The Shakespeare expert sends in two biographies of the playwright, one of his life, the other of his works. We instantly get the idea to put them side by side.

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    Considering the appearance of the wall near the car bellows.

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    The illustrator sends sketches with Shakespeare in full height.

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    Sure, he was dressed better on the first sketch, but we’ve got enough going on so that’s OK. The client chooses the drawing with the cat.

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    Asking the illustrator to also draw a theater curtain in the background.

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    The client really liked the flipped Metro logo. Finding a suitable face to add to it.

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    Inviting a&nsbp;stylist and starting a photo shoot.

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    The illustrator starts drawing graphics for the photos.

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    Trying the photos on cars. Coming to a conclusion that we have enough unique characters for half the train. The other half will have the same characters but in a different order.

    Toning down the Japanese stickerbombing inside, it’s way too bright.

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    Deciding to visually divide the top and the bottom. Later, this decision will make application of the film much easier.

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    Fragment of the exterior.

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    All together:

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    Most of the characters are ready.

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    We want some strong emotion for the head car. Let’s put a pin in it for now.

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    Generating ideas for the posters.

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    The series can be broken down by emotions!

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    Noticing a mistake: it’s the anniversary of his death, not birth.

    Changing the slogan to Shakespeare Lives, but now we need to make changes in all the texts in the cars as it’s not a happy celebration anymore.

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    Also, the client asks to add the name of the Metro line where the train will operate, make the website address larger and add information about the project. Also to calm down and simplify the design by cutting down on Emoji and pixelization.


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    Coming up with ideas for ticket appearance.

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    Clarifying requirements. Continuing the search.

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    Emotions out of control.

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    The client asks to ensure ethnic diversity.

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    Final retouching. Before and after.

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    The Shakespeare expert sends in the quotes. Decorating.

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    Adding a call to action. Choosing the spot above the doors.

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    Working on the doors. Selecting well-known short quotes that can be broken down into two pieces.

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    At some point deciding to replace the typeface with a studio one. The art director chooses Ekibastuz (left).

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    The client asks to add facts about Shakespeare to the car interior. Searching for a spot and placing the facts all over the car.

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    Going to the depot again, verifying dimensions, trying out the printouts.

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    Finding temperature sensors that weren’t marked as forbidden zones on the layout. Making changes.

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    Also revealing mismatches between the interior and exterior layouts and the width of bellows. Making adjustments.

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    The client asks to add the English name of the play in captions for quotes. Doing so.

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    Fixing bugs.

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    Hooray, the head car gets approved!

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    Checking all the layouts, replacing some of the Emoji.

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    Printing out and going to the depot again. Looking for mismatches. Trying the mirror film together with subcontractors and choosing the type of the primary film for the interior.

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    Studying color proofs, making last-minute changes, preparing the layouts for printing, assembling a preview.

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    Typesetting the guide and wiping off sweat. No better reward than a great joy.