Creating Map, Part 2

Creating Transit Map
Part II

Bundle curvature

Our map has really cool bundle curves. It took some time to achieve it. I knew that lines must curve smoothly, without ugly sharp bends, but only succeeded in curving one line beautifully. In a bundle, the outer lines had ugly bends:

Standart bends

All maps that I analyzed had the same curves:

Bad corners examples

So I did just the same. But Ilya told me not to look back at others, but come up with something awesome. I started to look for a solution. If the outermost line bended smoothly, the innermost one shriveled:

Overgood bends

And then I realized that if the points of curvature lie on a straight line perpendicular to the bundle, you inevitably have to choose between the two evils, and in order to fix it, they need to be moved slightly:

Good bends

As a result, the curves on our map are to die for:

Awesome bends on map

Busses and trolleys

Initially, I wanted to include only a couple of buses going to the airport. But it didn’t take long to realize that other buses and trolleys are just as important. Tram routes don’t cover the whole city, and many districts can be reached only by a bus or a trolley.

2011 maps were alright:

Bus and trolleys maps

But they were replaced with the one that I showed in the beginning:

Common map

I decided to make the bus supplement to my map better than the official map of bus routes. At first, I drew from printed maps. It is much more convenient than switching between windows on the screen, and you can write on them with a pen.


But the printed maps were several years old and some of the routes had changed. So I used Wikiroutes for reference. At one point, I noticed that Route 6 makes a detour to Pobedy Avenue.





After that, I double-checked all routes.

Initially, I used color coding to distinguish between bus and trolley routes:

First bus and trolleys lines

That was confusing. To tell a bus from a trolley one had to look it up in the legend, memorize the colors and return to the map.

First tram map with bus and trolleys

The perfect object is nothing but the function. With these words, Ilya suggested getting rid of the legend and adding bus and trolley icons to route numbers:

Colour and icons

The icons inherited their colors from the numbers. Before 2010, Chelyabinsk trolleys had blue liveries, hence the chosen color. But hardly anyone will think about it when using the map. When the city celebrated its 275th anniversary in 2011, it purchased 50 new buses. They arrived from the factory in a new cherry-cream livery. Later it was used to decorate trams as well. So the color of the icons had no support in real life. Besides, with colored buses and trolleys the map looked like a Christmas tree with toys:

Map like xmas tree

An icon is enough to tell a bus from a trolley. So we painted them the color of the lines. The final bus and trolley map:

Final bus and trolleys lines

Coat of arms and train icon

Ilya suggested adding a coat of arms to the title. The small picture in the corner resembled a piece of food stuck to the corner of the mouth. I suggested:

Title at the map

It looked good, but the coat of arms was too bright, so we decided to make it black and white, using Gerd Arntz’s works as a reference. First approach:

Coat of arms 1

Ilya: “The outer contour of the luggage should be thicker. The brick wall seems to be missing a line under the protruding bricks. The upper and lower borders of the wall need to be thicker. And the camel could use eyes or something like that“.

We spent a couple of days exchanging pictures and comments. Then we invited Sergey Chikin into the discussion, and he showed us how it’s done. The coat of arms got its final shape at the 17th iteration:

Set of coats of arms

The train took much more time to perfect. First I drew it face forward:

Train icon 1

From a distance, it could be mistaken for a tram or a subway car. Then I drew it in side view. The first version looked like a caricature. Small details got lost on the color proof.

Train icon 2

Time passed, the train changed, but still did not please the eye.

Set of train icons

When the map was about to go to print, we had no time to perfect the train, so we decided to use the one from Ilya’s Moscow Metro map:

Final icon

By the way, Sergey Chikin helped with this one too.

Field testing

In the middle of April, I brought the map to the depot. It was printed in A3 format and placed on the wall of the driver’s cabin. The left part of the wall is taken up by the information board, and on the right there is a door, so the only place left is the center. In the 71-605 tram, there is a blank window 40 cm in width on that place, and A3 sheets have to be cut to fit. But then the map is cramped in the frame and doesn’t stand out against other stickers.

First fitting

The problem was solved radically — by moving the map to the window opposite the middle door. The first test map was printed on transparent matte film. It looked awesome, like iOS 7:

Transparent map

But as it turned out, it was invisible in daylight and therefore impossible to use:

Invisible transparent map

Then we put white paper underneath it and it made things better:

Transparent map with white background

In order to test the map in the city, it had to be approved and signed by the transport department. Before submitting the map for approval, I added a new route (Kolyuschenko — Kirova — Electrometallurgy Plant) that was introduced on the 1st of June, four days before the first field test. At first, I wanted to ask the department to cancel the route — the colors were set and the bundles of lines were arranged beautifully, why change anything? But eventually I added it. Then I sent the map to the department.

Map for corrections

After a week, I got the feedback:

Map with marks

To my great embarrassment, I missed the Pervokonnaya stop which I used to pass through all the time when I was a kid. And the transport department missed the Lermontova stop (which I discovered later on), so I guess we are even. After making corrections, the map was signed and sent to print. When the sample copy was ready, it was glued to the window, and the tram was sent to the city.

Map on the window

I rode that tram several times, watched the passengers, asked questions and talked to the conductors. On one of the days, the tram was going along Gorkogo Street and stopped on the Lermontova stop which was not indicated on the map. Curious passengers studying the map:

Map in the field

After the map was published, attentive readers discovered some mistakes, and we corrected them. The only thing left to do was to wait for the map to be printed and put it in trams.

Map evolution:

← back