5 posts tagged


The process of creating the Minsk Metro Map. Part Four

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

This is the last part of the story about the creating process of Minsk Metro map which we completed on July 31, 2017. In July, Kostya finished all of the buildings in the center. We made the headline and drew the icons. I will tell about the importance of the national emblem on the map.


Kostya finished all of the buildings.


Make the headline bigger.

Let’s make the sign “20 minutes walking” bigger? People do not understand that the center is shown enlarged. Yesterday, I showed the map to a friend and she asked if these stations are placed so far from each other in real life?

Make the shadow at the center brighter.

This is our search for font and color of the sign “20 minutes walking”, swipe ← →

We changed the headline and made the shadow from the center brighter.

Checked contrast:


The logo in the corner always looks good, try it.


We chose this version:


I also found a beautiful emblem of the city. Let’s try to add it. The city emblem adds an importance to the map.

Let’s redraw the railway station icon.

Redraw icons, added an national emblem.

Ilya: Cool! Let’s publish the first version.

We made the layout in A2 format. This is all of the accomplishments in one month in one picture:

Photo from the metro:

The map will look great both in train carriages and in booklets. Art director – Ilya Birman. Designers – Ivan Zviahin and Konstantin Evstratenko.

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

The latest version of the Minsk Metro Map.

2019   map

The process of creating the Minsk Metro Map. Part Three

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

I will tell about the process of work on the scheme in May and June. We worked on the details and decided on the font. We worked on making improvements in May. We made the coolest design of the metro line that was undergoing construction. We illustrated new trees and designed the stations pointer type “Compass”.


The following version of the metro map:

Ilya’s answer:

Oh, how drastically it got better and cleaner. For the first time, I have a feeling that it’s almost ready. Only one thing, the color of river should be lighter. The color of the buildings is too pale.

By the way, we need to think of where will we place the princess from the game Monument Valley.

Also, double check the text with transliteration. The stops in the city center look cool, but the outside does not.

Can we try that thing? Not exactly like this. But we should search for a similar effect. I don’t want a gradient, but something more graphic:

About fonts:

DIN Font
Stem Font
Pobeda font
Formular Font
P22 Underground Font

I wanted to show Minsk in the font “A little Soviet Union” but in a modern form. We decided to take the font P22 Underground.

We used the colors for metro lines from the London metro map, and we used the national ornament for the new shade from the city center. The river remained only in the center.


The metro line names are missing the word “line”.

The star on Victory Square monument is too close to the name. We have to place the star on top of the name. Where the Obelisk statue is placed badly breaks the metro line. Perhaps the circle should be made more transparent.

The purple color at the station looks bad. It is better to make it black and use larger font.

The comments were easy to understand. We replaced the font everywhere and began to add icons such as ATM, Disabled Lift, WC near the stations.

We realized that the icons are too hard to see. The ornament around the center begins to annoy us, so we removed it. The black color of the station names is too much contrast. It is necessary to replace it.

It became clear that I do not like the way the river looks. I redid it. I also drew hockey arenas with more details.

By this time Kostya drew towers near the railway station. In replace of a statue on one of the towers, stands the Princess from the game Monument Valley.

I added towers and all sorts of things.

Ilya’s comments:

It looked cooler when exit dots were without opacity.

The bus lines are hard to see, they must be darker.

Does it seem that the shadows fall from the trees? It turned out badly and falls in the wrong place like at 3d-buildings.

You need to sign the river somehow with a bend like on maps.

The comments are understandable. Later, Ilya and I had a dispute. We could not find a common decision about the direction of shadows from the buildings and trees. Ilya offered all the shadows to steer down. We wanted the shadow to be on one side. It would give volume to the buildings. Kostya showed an example on the cube.

Ilya: Anyway from the right to left looks bad. It is possible to cheat: a shadow to throw downwards, and on the left sides make a shadow a little lighter than the right ones.

We went to look for examples and tried different shadows on our buildings.

We were able to convince Ilya that the shadow down doesn’t look good. We agreed to make a shadow to the right.

We made a new version. The exit dots became brighter. We named the river and bus station.

We didn’t have enough time to correct the shadows.

Ilya: The tiny dots near the exits looked better. Let’s remove the icons from the railway stations. They’re not beautiful. There is too much information next to the place around Vakzalnaya station. The railway and bus stations belong to one place.

I: This is how they are located in life!

Ilya: Then it is necessary to remove this table:

I: And do we not name the train station?

lya: The station “Vakzalnaya” is already written, what else is there to sign? Can you make the station’s icon green? Next to the station “Uruccha,” make the blue airplane bigger. Then just write underneath: “Bus 300Э goes to the airport.”

I:Fine, but the metro station “Vakzalnaya” is to the left of the station...

Ilya: Hmm, can you put the name to the left?

I: There’s also a blue metro line right there... just bend it or sign it straight. Let’s just write the words, it will be better for now. We will come back to this question later.

We named the railway stations and added new shadows to the trees. We replaced squares for circles at the stations exits. We made the icons of the elevator larger, drew a new icon for the airport. We also drew new bus routes. Finally, we made a draft version of the stations in alphabetical order, which is placed below.



Let’s remove the margins and bold styles of the first letters in the list. I want the arrows that we will use to be the same as the Moscow metro map of 2013 that I created. In the center, you can use the same circles that were used for the metro stations exit signs.

Think about where you can put our names.

What have you decided to do with the hockey arena?

We decided to draw a volumetric arena, but not until after the first release of the map.


The pointer is good.

Let’s take a look at the stations names and icons for the elevators and toilets. There should be a clear principle for icons alignment.

The circle seems to be unnecessary in bus lines.

Let’s go back to the piece of the map that is around station “Vakzalnaya”. All the text about the station should be underneath the name of station “Vakzalnaya.” The map also needs an icon that is a green train and is like the airport icon.

I’m not sure I got it right, but I’ll show you a draft.

You can get to the railway station from the station “Ploshcha Lenina” without going outside. “Vakzalnaya” is located below the train station and has no tunnel to it. The train icon should be blue. The train station is just across the street from the city’s tower. This is all important information to consider.

Then I had an idea. While the green line of the metro is under construction, station “Vakzalnaya” should be placed outside of the city center.

At the same moment Ilya wrote:

We need to get the station Vokzalnay out of the city center. In this event, you won’t think that it is suitable for the ride to the station.

Let’s show somehow that the green line is being under construction. Can we draw the line either contour or dotted?

I worked on the comments and made the next version.


There are a few thoughts about the green line. First, it is possible to make the line from dots…it could look beautiful. Second, I would have made the station’s name in a smaller font size.

Write our names vertically on the edge of the format.

It seems that we have just created the coolest display of metro lines that was ever made. Here’s a draft:

I’ll show you the final version after I tell you about the new trees. Yes, trees. Ilya offered to redraw them completely and make them more modern. I struggled to keep the old trees until the last moment, and now I’m glad we changed them. I will tell you a little about the process of creation.

Ilya says:

As a whole picture, we have cool buildings and cool graphics on the map, and the trees don’t match the style. You can try to draw half transparent circles. Look at this:

My attempts to draw trees:

We decided on the last option. The version with new trees and green line:


“20 мин от центра · 20 min from the centre”. You need an icon of the man instead of the pointer.

Let’s write the working hours like this: 5:30am to 1:00am.

What is the thing in the center? A rectangle on a stick?


It’s a big screen on the square. The screen is a popular meeting place, city locals will understand the icon.

I have shown several options for displaying captions in English, but the captions are in a difficult place.

The first option won. All Belarusian inscriptions should stand as if there is no English. After that, the English version is put in free space.

We deleted the icons for WC, elevators, etc.


The train station icon looks like a ferry.

The trees look cool.

You need to make a star at the obelisk bigger.

By this time, Kostya had painted the cathedral. We made comments and added a new building to the map. We made bridges for the first version. Then we will draw the cooler one.

Here is the work for two months in one picture:

June ended. I will tell about the work from July and August in the fourth part. By the way, the fourth part is the final. Kostya is drawing the main buildings in the center in fourth part. I will tell you how we made the headline. I will also tell you about the importance of the emblem on the map.

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

The latest version of the Minsk Metro Map.

2019   map

The process of creating the Minsk Metro Map. Part Two

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

In this note, I am going to talk about the design process of the metro map in March and April. Many people were surprised that it took us 8 months to make a map. I want to make a clarification. We dedicated to work no more than 8 hours a week on the map. In total, I spent 200 hours on this project.


We worked to find a proper visual language. After we studied Ilya’s edits, we rebuilt the older version. First, the descents of the lines that were on different levels have become smoother.

The following were the trees. We have collected a folder with pictures of trees. Some of them impressed us:

We were inspired and made a new version. We tried different colors and added details for the buildings. We made new trees and new river. We added gradient transition. We smoothed down the lines and added the shadow of the city center. Stations that were placed outside of the city center were shown as list with stations names.

Ilya answered us:

Parks, trees, river – amazing.

But in general, everything is formless. Half of the square is empty. On the central island you can clearly shrink part of the space. The font size of the park names is too small. You need to fill the empty quarters somehow with something else. There are too many breaks at the river behind the center.

Half of the red metro line is not named. It seems that to go from station Kupalauskaya to Pershamayskaya it takes a week. Im not in favor of the shadow that the city center throws onto the map.

In general, the form does not seem that beautiful, and the whole is more important than details. This does not mean that the details are not important.

And here I had an idea. If the form of center of the city seems not beautiful, then it is necessary to use a circle for shape. Therefore, we need to redraw the center of the city completely. I quickly made a draft and sent it to the art director.

Ilya said he liked the idea and asked to try to make the metro lines symmetrical. We drew cubes for the building that we were planning to add. Also we added a green metro line. This is the rough layout of the result:

Ilya’s answer:

We need to squeeze or fill the free quarters on the map.

Circles are for nothing darker than lines. Need a new font, this one does not work. The logo of the subway that you have is not very attractive, the current one is better.

We need to redraw everything from scratch. I made the draft in notepad.

It became clear that the streets should be drawn at 45 degrees (breaking the geography parameters). It looks aesthetically more pleasing, and it became easier to draw.


In April, we worked on city. We made all streets to be under 45 °. Everything appeared little bigger. Also we added a green metro line. We begin to draw hills and trees in the parks. After all, the center of the city accidentally appeared as wink smile.

Ilya writes:

We must shorten the distance between Kastrychnitskaya station and Ploscha Peramogi station and somehow get the intersection of the red and blue lines in the center of the circle.

The color of the stops is different from the color of the lines.

The green metro line is poorly seen over the park.

I made a new prototype of the map and showed to Ilya.

At the same time, I decided to try new designations of stations in the center and behind it. Behind the center-ordinary square, in the center – rectangle.

The answer of the art director:

Parks should be made smoother, especially where the green metro line is. Let’s just do it without a legend. Let’s try to type everything on the map.

It is necessary to understand the useful information that we will place below. Working hours? Tickets?

The shapes of stations in the center aren’t good.

The top stations of the blue metro line near the circle you should write on the right. You need to make the river look less bright.

Contrast of the font size between central and non-central metro stations should be made larger or just don’t do it.

Let’s fix the transliteration?!

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

The latest version of the Minsk Metro Map.

2019   map

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

Minsk Metro Map

Assignment: design a Minsk Metro map for other cities to be jealous of.

The centre

The main idea was to show the centre thoroughly and to simplify the rest. In the central part of the city, landmarks, parks, the river, streets and the location of the station exits are shown. This makes the map evenly dense, attractive for tourists and useful for the locals. Trees and bridges are given special love. The buildings are highly detailed, but shown in calm colours to not obstruct the main information layer.

Line being built

The label of the green line that is under construction, which is denoted by a neat dot pattern, also includes the planned year of completion.


The legend is nowhere to be found on the map: all non-obvious elements are labeled in-place.


To keep the map clean from the coordinate grid and facilitate the station lookup, the station index is relying on “Compass” system, first used in my Moscow Metro map of 2013. To find a station, just look in the direction of an arrow.

The map will look great both in train carriages and in booklets. Art director – Ilya Birman. Designers – Ivan Zviahin and Konstantin Evstratenko.


I talk about the creation process:

2018   done   map