All posts tagged “graphic design

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Project: 1989 East Berlin Bahnhofsübersicht Map Digital Recreation

Click here to view a larger version of the map

I’ve long admired this fascinating map of the railway network in and around East Berlin, produced at the tail end of the Cold War in 1989. However, the only copy of it I’d ever seen was a horribly oversaturated scan that I reviewed over on Transit Maps back in 2012. So I was absolutely overjoyed when I was pointed towards this far superior scan (left), which is both higher resolution and much more colour accurate: for a start, you can actually tell the difference between the dark green S-Bahn and light green regional lines!

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Project: Amtrak Subway Map, 2016

2016 Amtrak Subway Map - Small

Click on the image above or here to view a large version of the map!

One of my longest-running projects is a subway diagram-styled map of Amtrak’s passenger rail network, with the original version dating back to 2010. I always made sure to update it regularly over the years, adding and deleting stations to keep it current. In April last year, I attempted to update the design of the map as well, although I ended up trying a few too many overly-clever things with it – overlaying lines on top of each other just because I was in love with transparency effects being the worst offender. The final result ended up being less than satisfactory, and I shelved the project while I worked on other things.

Coming back with fresh eyes almost a year-and-a-half later, I was able to be ruthlessly objective about what worked and what didn’t in that 2015 draft. The confusing overlaid route lines definitely had to go, but the new typography – using the superb Fira Sans – and larger route designation bullets were huge improvements over the original design. From this starting point, I set out with some clear goals for improvement this time around.

First and foremost was more intelligent, harmonious spacing of stations. Previous versions crammed some sections in very tightly, while giving far too much space to other parts of the map. The chief offenders for closely-packed stations have always been the Keystone/Pennsylvanian routes running west out of Philadelphia, all the Michigan Service routes,  and the Missouri River Runner between St. Louis and Kansas City – so I paid extra attention to these sections, ensuring that the minimum distance between stops on these sections was the same as that defined elsewhere on the map. For the record, the gap between stations on the Northeast Corridor was used as the “building block” for the rest of the map, and it’s been much more faithfully adhered to in this version of the map.

More intelligent spacing also helped a lot on the west coast. Previously, I’d spaced these stations relatively evenly from Vancouver, BC all the way down to San Diego. This looks nice enough in isolation, but it caused the split route lines in the Empire Builder at Spokane to take up way too much space – the three stations on each of these two branches were placed much further apart than any other stations on the entire map. Eastern Washington state is big, but not that big!

In this version, I broke the west coast into a “Pacific Northwest” section from Vancouver down to Eugene-Springfield, and a “California” section from Sacramento all the way down to San Diego. These two sections were spaced as tightly as their Northeast Corridor counterpart on the east coast, with the connecting rural Oregon/California section on the Coast Starlight being more loosely spaced to fill in the resulting gap between the two regions. This improved the spacing and visual size of the Empire Builder branches immensely, possibly the single biggest improvement on the map. I’d always used a similar approach on the City of New Orleans route right from the first version of the map, so doing this actually made the design of the map more consistent.

I also reworked the trajectory of the Southwest Chief on this version. It’s a little twistier than before, but it puts the Colorado stations in a better location relative to Denver, which I think is a spatial improvement.

Keen-eyed readers will have noticed that there’s a new Amtrak service shown on the map – the Winter Park Ski Train that will start running between Denver and the Winter Park ski resort this January! It only has one return trip each Saturday and Sunday (and on the Presidents Day and MLK Day holidays) through to the end of March, but it’s definitely exciting to add a new line to the map, no matter how short it is! The new purpose-built station at Winter Park will not be served by the daily California Zephyr, which will continue to stop just down the line at Fraser instead.

This version of the map also shows two future Amtrak stations – Hillsborough, North Carolina (opening 2020), and Arcadia Valley, Missouri (potentially opening as early as Fall this year) – as well as the “suspended” section of the Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Orlando. I put this last bit in to show that the map is intentionally designed to accommodate it, just in case – by some miracle – it ever gets reinstated. The potential extension of Northeast Regional service to Roanoke is a little further into the future, so it remains off the map for now (although it would be quite easy to add when the time comes).

As usual, your thought and comments are welcome! Prints are now on sale in my online shop from just $27: there’s a version that includes the suspended Sunset Limited track, and another that just shows the current services.

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More Design Notes on the Redrawn Tube Map

Wow! I’ve been completely blown away by the (mostly positive) response to my redrawn Tube Map. Thanks to everyone who has left me a comment or note – all of your thoughts help to inform future revisions to the map. There’s a few more parts of the map that I’m personally really happy with that I’d like to highlight in a little more detail than the already lengthy initial post allowed. Read on for the details!

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Project: Redrawing the London Tube Map

Back to Beck Tube Map

Click here to view a larger version of the map Or here for an alternate version with proper accessibility icons

See also: More design notes on the map, and showing out-of-station interchanges

London’s Underground Diagram (or “Tube Map”) has long been regarded as an icon of informational design, pioneering the way for just about every other schematic transportation map in the world since its inception way back in 1931. But how much of that reputation is actually deserved these days?

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Quick Project: Amtrak Timetable Redesign

 

After complaining on Twitter about how I found information in Amtrak’s timetables difficult to decipher, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and do a quick little redesign to prove my point. The brief to myself: it had to contain all the same information, use the same typeface (Frutiger), and fit in the same space as the original. Everything else was fair game, including colours, as the timetables are printed in four-colour brochures. However, I was more interested in making small, incremental changes for the better, rather than attempting a radical redesign. I posted the result quickly on Twitter last night and got quite a positive reaction, so here’s a more in-depth look at the redesign and the rationale behind it.

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Download: New Orleans Letter Tiles Artwork

New Orleans Letters

Way back in 2009, I created a corporate identity for the New Orleans Tile Company, basing the logo’s letterforms off photographs of the beautiful blue-and-yellow 1920s ceramic tiles that can still be found spelling out street names around the city today. As I only required a small subset of letters for the logo, I never got around to completing the full alphabet. However, over the years, I have received quite a few requests for my artwork from people working on other New Orleans-related typography projects.

So, once and for all, here’s everything I’ve created – released into the public domain for anyone to use as they see fit. While you don’t have to credit me if you create something based on these letterforms, I’d sure like to see what you’ve made! You can use the site’s contact form to send a link to your work my way.

Download: Adobe Illustrator CS3+ .ai format  |  SVG 1.1 format

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Project: Prototype U.S. Highways Shield (1926), Digital Recreation

Pre-1926 U.S. Highway Shield

While doing research for my recent 1947 Interstate Highways map recreation, I stumbled across some scans (PDF link – 0.3MB) of American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) road sign specifications dated from the 1920s. The very first page has a dimensioned drawing of the then brand new U.S. Highways shield that I find extremely interesting, as it doesn’t quite match the the shield as it actually first appeared on real world signage in 1927. Some further research seemed to reveal that this drawing is of a design prototype (of a theoretical Route 56 in Maine) that AASHO discussed in meetings during 1926. The drawing itself is pretty rough, with dimensions that don’t match the actual size of the drawing and completely different shapes for each side of the now-familiar six-point shield, so I redrew it accurately according to the given dimensions in Illustrator.

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Project: 2015 Sydney Festival Route Map

Sydney Festival 2015 Route Map

If you’ve ever been to Sydney in January, then you’ll know that the Sydney Festival is a big deal. Running for almost the entire month, it brings together the very best in the arts from around Australia and the world – music, dance, performance and more. So I was more than a little bit excited when I was commissioned to produce this thematic “route map” of highlighted events, to be used both online and in the Festival’s printed program/brochure.

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U.S. Highways Map selected for NACIS “Atlas of Design”

U.S. Routes as a Subway Map

[Cross Post from Transit Maps]

Hey, everyone! I’m thrilled to be able to share some news with you that I just heard about! My U.S. Highways as Subway Map has been accepted for inclusion in the inaugural edition of the NACIS Atlas of Design. There were 150 entries, and only 27 maps – all by different creators – have been accepted, so you can see why I’m excited about this!

The Atlas itself promises to be superb, as evidenced by this excerpt from the project website:

The Atlas will feature a gallery of full-color maps showcasing cartography at its most beautiful, its cleverest, its sharpest, and its most intriguing. But it will be more than a museum of images; each map will be accompanied by thoughtful commentary that guides the reader toward a deeper understanding of the work: its inspiration and message, the ways it means to influence us. It is well to look upon something beautiful and good, but once we understand how it is beautiful and good, our experience becomes much richer. For those of us who make maps, we can carry those lessons into our own work and advance the craft of cartography. Even if you don’t make maps, it’s a chance to gain insight into what mapmakers really do, and to see how it’s about more than just pushing city dots and rivers around. Everyday objects become much more significant when we see what is behind their creation.

I can’t wait to see the other maps! If you need a recap, here’s the map’s project page on this site, and here’s a link to a larger image of the map. And of course, prints of the map are still available for sale in my secure on-line store.

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New Side Project: Transit Maps Tumblr

Well, it had to happen. I’ve set up a new Tumblr where I discuss, critique and celebrate transit maps from around the world – be they official or unofficial, fantasy or real, from the past, present or future. I’ve already got a great selection up and there’s a lot more to come. Head on over to take a look, and follow me or reblog my stuff  if you like what you see!

Visit Transit Maps!
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Tutorial: How To Design a Transit Diagram

One thing I often get asked regarding my transit diagrams is how I go about actually creating them. Originally, I just jumped right in and pushed things around on a page in Illustrator until it looked okay. These days, I’m far more organised, meticulous and precise with my work and I think it shows in the quality of my diagrams. Here’s a few tips and tricks that I live by when working on them: Read More

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Project: Historical Passenger Rail of Portland, Oregon

Passenger Rail of Portland, Oregon (1912, 1943, 2015)

Somewhat related to my previous post, here’s a new transit map of Portland for your perusal. This piece was born out of two things – a friendly after-work chat with the immensely talented Ryan Sullivan of Paste In Place, where we discussed a concept similar to this; and a chance discovery of a high-resolution scan of a 1943 streetcar/trolley map on the amazing Vintage Oregon site.

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Weet-Bix Collector Card Album

Client: Sanitarium Health Foods, Australia
Type of Work: Promotional collector’s card album
Software: Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop

To house the Weet-Bix cricket cards seen here, I also designed and produced this lavish 32-page collector’s album. Filled with beautiful photographs of cricketing memorabilia commissioned specially for the project, the design had to showcase the cards and the photography. To this end, I devised a clever set of perforations and die cuts that allowed the cards to be mounted in the book so that both sides of each card could be viewed. The book also incorporated a spot varnish on the cover.

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Weet-Bix Cricket Cards

Client: Sanitarium Health Foods, Australia
Type of Work: Promotional cricket trading cards
Software: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

Sanitarium Weet-Bix are Australia’s most popular breakfast cereal, and they have a long history of including collectible trading cards in their cereal boxes. Designed for the 2002–2003 cricket season, this set of cards drew on the rich heritage of Australian cricket—the legends of yesteryear, the heroes of the current day and the up-and-coming future stars—and was Sanitarium’s most ambitious project of this type to date.

I designed all 30 of the double-sided cards (60 players in total, with four different designs reflecting the different “eras”), including selecting the images from the Getty Images stock library, deep-etching all the photographs to fit the design and colour correction where required. I also collated and double-checked all the statistics shown on the cards and attended press-checks for the printing.

See also the collector’s album that I designed for housing these cards.

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Braidwood Ales Beer Labels

Braidwood Traditional Ales: bottles

Client: Braidwood Traditional Ales
Type of Work: Beer bottle labels
Software: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop

Braidwood is a small historic town about 50 miles from Canberra, Australia. The client – a newly-founded micro-brewery and cafe – was looking to capture the heritage and tradition of the area in their new beer labels. An illustration by a local artist of a shearer relaxing with a cold beer and his dog served as the focal point of the design, while I devised distinctive color schemes for each variety of beer. Once the labels were approved, I  adapted the artwork for use on tap handles and as brewery signage.