We started the studio out by learning Illustrator. To do this, we all created maps of different things. I created a map about the different paths in life you can take. It is easy to fall into the “average dude” category if you stop being a leader and become a follower. The “average dude” is represented in a navy blue color; navy blue is a pretty average color. The bright orangy-red color represents a leader, and how they are not afraid to try something new. A lot of our map is a purply gray color, in between red and blue. This shows how easily you can slip into becoming a follower.
Every detail is carefully thought out in our map. Some of the text is capitalized and some is all lower case. We made the average dude lowercase purposefully to show that he is just average, there is nothing special about him.
We then started working on our MBTA maps. I am working alone on this studio and my goal is to redesign the MBTA map in a new and awesome way that highlights some new way to use it. I noticed that the current MBTA map is bias to the city. They use terms like “inbound” and “outbound” which yes, help if you are going to the city, but they make it very confusing if you are not. As soon as you are through the city your train switches to “outbound”, adding extra complications. I think it would be much simpler if the trains did not have an identity swap, and maybe used north and south instead of inbound and outbound.
I want my MBTA map to be bias to parks and green spots around Boston. When I see a T map all the different train lines remind me of tree branches. Can a map be a tree? One of my ideas for my map is playing with perspective to make the trains lines look like tree branches. Instead of using the harsh man-made reds and greens on the map we use today, I will try to make my colors neutral and natural tones.
I have begun my project of making the MBTA map into a tree. The tree signifies that Boston is always growing and expanding. My map is a nature themed map. On the map, certain stops will be turned into flower buds on the “branches”. The stops will be the specific stops that have parks near by.
I had to start making my map on Illustrator. I scanned my sketch onto the computer then traced over it in Illustrator. It’s a little annoying to draw it on Illustrator because I am not familiar with the program, however I like using illustrator because it is very easy to change things. If I was drawing the tree by hand I would have to start over each time I made a mistake. Now I have the basic subway lines in the position I want them to be in, and I can add and subtract objects to the stations with outdoorsy places near by.
Dominick from the head of Innovation for the MBTA came in and looked at our projects. He was a really interesting guy and passionate about maps, which was fun for us to see. He gave us some great feedback for our maps. The main thing Dominick said about my map was that the tree trunk is confusing because it is not a train line. He suggested I try to use the red line and turn that into the trunk. I think it is a great idea.
My original drawing is too linear, and I was not able to make it work. I have now started my tree over twice. I was headed in the wrong direction, so I have made a U turn and started over.
I made my next model using Photoshop, an organic colored tree as a base. I didn’t end up liking that model, so I abandoned this tree too. It’s frustrating to have to start over but it’s worth it if you’re not getting the results you like.
Yet another model- this one is a silhouette of a tree and I am trying to make it look more and more like a tree. To do this, I have to redraw the T line using more organic lines and shapes. It is really important that the branches of the tree are as similar to the train lines as possible, because this will make it easier to layer the map with other details. I have filtered through the branches so they are thin and match the T line. I left the T map behind the silhouette, so the station names are still there. It is starting to look really good.
I am now debating on what to draw to signify a T stop with a park near by. I have flower buds and clusters of branches that are my two favorites. They look good together or apart.
I am struggling. As I go in a more artistic direction I am being constantly reminded to make a more geographically correct map that people will actually be able to use. It is a difficult balance.
I am experimenting with showing the T lines through the tree. I didn’t like the idea in the beginning, but I don’t think they turned out that bad. The T lines look better when there are no words on the tree. I also moved the words around so the tree isn’t covering them all.
On my tree I want to signify the stops where there are parks and green spaces near by. I have a few options on how to do that I could use flower buds, clusters of branches, green puffballs or yellow fluffs. I can use them together or use a few at a time. I personally like the flower bud and clusters of branches together. I like the yellow fluffs because they add some bright color. I really like how my tree is a silhouette, but I am worried it looks to dead. It is not my intention to make a dead tree.
Matt Brown came in who is a designer for Ideo. He is a really cool guy. Matt gave me some great feedback on my map. Matt suggested that I make a second map that is just the tree without the fluff so my map can also be used for navigating. I think Matt really liked my idea. He said it is really powerful.
I started adding the fluff to the tree. The stops with parks near them have flower buds and bright green leaves, as stops without parks near by are a duller purply brown.
Part of my feedback was that maybe I should have a second map that is clearer to read. While I understand this feedback I disagree and think it takes away from the power of the image. Instead I am going to try to make the T stops with parks near them super legible.
This was an intense studio. My tree is done- I love my tree.