The process of creating the Minsk Metro Map. Part One

The process of creating the Minsk Metro Map: Part One · Two · Three · Four

It seems like every designer has to draw a version of the metro of the city which he lives.


The idea to draw a map of Minsk Metro came to mind when I saw the updated version of it from another designer. Maps were installed at a few metro stations throughout the city.  I saw it face to face in a subway station of Urucha. It looked like this:

I thought it was possible to make the metro maps more simple and more informative. In its current state, it features too much useless information and the accents are not placed correctly.

I started to accumulate a collection of well-made maps, and I was amazed by Ilya Birman’s helpful tips. I looked through the maps from Ilya’s portfolio. After reading the description of the construction of the Metro map of Ekaterinburg, I realized that I can write Ilya a letter to ask for his advice. I quickly sketched the test version at sufficient level and sent a email. This is what the first version looked like:

I could not refuse the deal that Ilya offered (all messages are translated by me):

If you want to do the map together then I want to be the art director of the project and I’ll release it on my website. Of course, it will state that you are the designer. I’ll dive into everything and give you detailed comments, advise how to communicate with the city authorities and with an advertising agency.

At the same time the final word in the design will be mine. I’ll make you redraw a bunch of things hundreds of times, and try different versions. I need you to be proactive. Also, call me again when I don’t answer for a long time. It will be a confidential project before its release. If we do not complete it, it will not be possible to release it without an agreement with me.

I understand that it is hard, but if you agree, I will be ready to give this time and effort.

Productive work begins. I was so excited with the idea that I was ready to make edits for days, absorbing new knowledge and ideas. By the way, I knew the app Illustrator very poorly and never made a map or something like that.

A piece of the center of New York

A week later Ilya proposed to draw the city in detail:

If there are only two metro lines in the city, you have to draw the rest of the city as well.

Let’s show some pieces of the center more closely for the map to be interesting. For outside of the center, we will leave only the remaining stations.

It was necessary to fill in evenly all of the blank spaces in order to use the map efficiently. I liked the idea. I drew first the river, main streets, parks, metro exits, railroads, and even exits to tram tracks. I then added the buildings. We have reached this version:

After a month of work, the interest level began to fall slightly. And then I was very encouraged by the news from Ilya, and it appeared at the perfect moment.

Another designer came to me who also wanted a map of Minsk Metro to draw on the same terms I certainly don’t mind doing both, but I’m telling you just in case. Let me know if you don’t want to continue the project. Tell me, if you think there’s something wrong.

IIlya offered to show my version to another designer. He told me he could help with the isometric in the buildings. I was excited about the collaboration. And so, I met the cool designer Kostya Eustrenko.

Trees in the Berlin Tiergarten

Kostya and I met the next day. We spoke about ourselves and began to write a list of ideas. We immediately divided the areas of responsibility and decided on how we will work. Kostya took the isometric sights, and I managed the rest.

In order to understand how to display parks and rivers even more on the maps, Kostya asked Ilya a few questions. A few days later, Ilya gave us detailed answers about the rivers and parks. 


In February, we concentrated on drawing the center of the city. We expanded it and added a green metro line. We have compiled a list of streets that are included in it. I began to redraw lines and stations, selected the border radius for streets and lines. I offered Ilya several stations as options in the center:

Kostya drew several drafts with different details:

We added the highway, lines and river. As well as we added several buildings in the center. We prepared the version on a white background and on blue background. We decided to pick white because it looks nicer.

We wrapped the map and sent it to Ilya. The next day, we got a detailed answer. Ilya does not like the general coloring. He thinks that buildings are too shiny and the shadows of the center are terrible.

Lines on different levels look good. However, this won’t work because people will be confused! The station’s sign needs to be larger.

The transition needs a beautiful gradient.

The road doesn’t look good. The plane icon is very small.

Ilya advised to look for color maps for buildings in the game “Monument Valley”. There are a lot of cool buildings.

The process of creating a Minsk Metro Map: Part One · Two · Three · Four

The latest version of the Minsk Metro Map.

2019   map