The process of creating a Minsk Metro Map. Part One

The process of creating a 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 few metro stations throughout the city.  I saw it face to face in subway station of Urucha. It looked like this:

I thought it is possible to make the metro maps more simple and more informative. In it’s current state, it featured too much useless information and the accents were not placed correctly.

I started to accumulate a collection of well-made maps and was amazed by Ilya Birman’s helpful tips. I looked through the maps from Ilya’s portfolio, and I was impressed. 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 letter. 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 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, 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 to you.

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 lines metro 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 leave only the remaining stations.

It was necessary to fill in evenly all of the blank space in order to use the map most 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.

To me here recently came another designer who also wants a map of Minsk Metro to draw on the same terms. I certainly don’t mind, but I’m telling you just in case. Let me know if you don’t want to continue the project. I’m guessing that when one of you starts to get something similar to the truth, I’ll ask you to join forces and finish one cool map.

Tell me if you think there’s something wrong.

Ilya offered to show my version to another designer. He told me he could help with the isometric in the buildings. I was excited about this 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 on. Kostya took the isometric sights, and I managed the rest.

In order to understand even more how to display parks and rivers 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 options stations in the center:

Kostya drew several drafts with different details:

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

We wrap the map and sent it to Ilya. The next day, we get a detailed answer. Ilya does not like the general coloring. He thinks that buildings are too shiny and shadows of the island 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 ring 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.

Dec 8   map