Breaking News! Illustrator CC’s “Live Corners” Are AMAZING!
Yesterday, Adobe released updates to many of their Creative Cloud applications, including Illustrator (which is now at version 17.1, if you can believe it!).For me, the absolute standout feature is “Live Corners”, which is a game changer for the design and production of transit maps. Gone are the inconsistent and unpredictable results produced by the "Round Corners" effect, and my trusty but time-consuming workaround — using a set of master curves and manually cutting-and-pasting them into the artwork — would now seem to be a thing of the past.
Using Live Corners couldn’t be easier: simply use the Direct Selection (white-tipped) arrow to select the point that you want to edit. A new little circular widget should appear next to the point. If you can’t see it, go to the View menu and select “Show Corner Widgets”.
Double-click on the widget to bring up the new “Corners” dialog box, where you can choose the type of corner you’d like: curve, reverse curve or bevel. Then, enter your required value for the radius of the curve, which is finally, finally, an actual real radius measured from the centre point of the curve.
The “Rounding” options allow you to choose between relative and absolute methods of defining the corner. Absolute gives the most accurate results, while relative values seem to give an (unacceptably) exaggerated sharpness to the curve. Click “OK” and you’re done!
In my example, I’ve used an 8 point radius for both Yellow Lines, and a 16 point radius for the Red Lines. As you can see, the resulting corner curves all have identical centre points, regardless of whether the curve is at 90 or 135 degrees! I’ve also tested with a range of other angles and results are perfect every time.
Put simply, this is a huge time-saver and will ensure consistent — but still editable — results every time. I just wish this feature had turned up before I manually added curves to 90 percent of my new US Highways/Interstate map!
Official Map: Tehran Metro, Iran
Tehran is not necessarily the first place you think of when it comes to an extensive, modern rapid transit system, but here it is. First opened in 1999, the system now boasts five lines (four rapid transit and one commuter rail), over 140 kilometres of track and carries more than 2 million passengers each day.
The map itself is fairly basic and workmanlike, although not unattractive in a blocky sort of way. It handles its requirement for bilingual labels (Persian and English) well, and the interchange markers are both unique and distinctive.
For such a diagrammatic map, there’s some uneven spacing between stations in places, and I’d probably have placed the labels and ticks for Razi and Rahahan stations on the light blue Line 3 on the left hand side of the line, rather than the right.
The map also understates the length of the green commuter rail line quite a lot — at over 40 kilometres long, it’s almost twice as long as any of the other lines, but is shown as being extremely short here. However, it definitely does allow the map to take on a more compact form.
Our rating: Basic and simple, but still effective enough. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official Tehran Metro site)
Official Map: Île-de-France Regional Transit Map
Brought to my attention by readers Tony and Guillaume is this striking new regional transit map for the Île-de-France region that surrounds Paris.
It shows not only the Paris Métro (lines 1 through 14), but also the tramways (Lines T1 through T7), RER lines (lines A through E) and the Transilien commuter rail network (lines H, J, K, L, N, P, R and U). In addition to all this, it also manages to show a wide array of bus routes and indicate travel zones! That it can do all this while still looking quite lovely is definitely an achievement.
Issued by the Syndicat des Transports d’Ile de France (STIF) and designed by LatitudeCartagene, the map is starting to pop up at stations across Paris, replacing an older, more geographically-based map.
It’s interesting to note that while the map shows the entire Métro, it isn’t based on the official map of that network and has instead been drawn from scratch — a wise choice. It also uses Frutiger as the main typeface, rather than the RATP’s bespoke Parisine font. However, it does share the Métro map’s slightly muted pastel colour palette, which means that the few really bright colours like the blazing red of the RER “A” line really jump out.
The map uses an interesting mix of angles to allow all the routes to meet up with each other, as well as some lovely sweeping curves, especially the RER “C” line along the banks of the Seine. In general, the RER and Transilien lines have more flowing curves than the Métro, which works well to visually separate them. The bus routes are shown as straight lines with very tight curves when they change direction.
About the only fault with this map is the lack of a legend: the distinction between the RER lines (route letter in a circle) and Transilien lines (route letter in a square) isn’t immediately apparent, and I’m still not entirely sure why some bus routes are orange and others are blue (orange routes mainly serve central Paris, while blue routes seem to serve the outer areas or be express routes).
Our rating: Basically, I love this: a huge, complex network of interconnecting routes and transit modes simplified and rendered in a stylish, understandable way. Hopefully, it’s future-proofed to cope with the upcoming expansion of Métro and RER services. Four-and-a-half stars!
(Source: Official STIF vianavigo site — PDF download)
Tokyo Metro: Trains of the Passnet Companies Collectible Farecard
Not a transit map, but too darn cute to not share with you.
From the same series of collectible Passnet cards as this nifty Tokyo Metro map, this card shows an adorably stylised train for each of the (22!) rail companies that participated in the Passnet program.
(Source: Rob Ketcherside/Flickr)
So this happened overnight… 10,000 followers!
Wow! Thanks once again to each and every person that helps to make Transit Maps what it is.
Historical Map: The Plan of Chicago — Proposed Arrangement of Railroad Stations, 1909
A plate from the hugely influential 1909 Plan of Chicago (also known as “the Burnham Plan” after its primary author, the renowned architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham) showing proposed amendments and additions to the railroads of the city.
The thin red lines show main line railroads, which were going to be rerouted to two mega-stations to the south and west of the downtown area. To facilitate movement between these stations, an ambitious plan of subterranean streetcars (blue lines) and subway trains (dashed red lines) was proposed in addition to the already existing “El”. It’s hard to make out without viewing the image at its largest size on Flickr, but the “El” is shown by thin orange lines on the map.
In the end, little of this part of the plan was ever implemented. A new Chicago Union Station was finished in 1925, but no other stations were consolidated or relocated. In 1929, the South Branch of the Chicago River was rechanneled between Polk and 18th Streets to untangle railroad approaches as recommended by the plan. However, its importance as a part of this vastly influential document cannot be underestimated.
(Source: Penn State Libraries Pictures Collection/Flickr)
Historical Map: “Blue Guides Short Guide to Paris” Paris Métro Map, 1951
An excellent effort to portray the complexities of the Métro with just two colours. A wide array of different dashed lines allows 15 lines (the 14 Métro lines plus the Ligne de Sceaux) to be differentiated relatively easily. As a guide for tourists, the map wisely concentrates on the central part of Paris, leaving the stations further out to be listed in neat little call out boxes.
Paris Metro map from the inside cover of The Blue Guides Short Guide to Paris published by Ernest Benn Limited in 1951. Edited by L. Russell Muirhead.
Inside the book was a fold out map of Paris - although not attached it is presumably intended as part of the book.
Fantasy Future Map: Los Angeles County Light Rail System from the Movie “Her”
I love it when I’m able to fulfill requests from readers. Here’s a note I got from an anonymous follower the other day:
The new movie “Her” is set in a futuristic LA with a very un-LA-like amount of public transport use and at one point includes a shot off to the side of the frame of a map showing a much, much bigger LA Metro rail network. Would love to see that on this site! Don’t suppose you have any connections in the movie business?
Not really, but luckily, the good people over at r/losangeles on Reddit have come to the rescue and posted this screenshot from the movie. By the looks of it, future LA has ripped up the entire current system and replaced it with a new one.
The map itself is a bit naff, with all sorts of weird angles in its lines (which also take some ridiculously circuitous routes to get where they’re going), angled text and strangely patterned background. There’s a definite Washington Metro map vibe to it with the thicker route lines and circular interchange station symbols — although the large red circles look more like the epicentre of a nuclear blast than a place to change trains. There’s also a station at the northern end of the “Orange Line” that seems to broadcast an awesome wi-fi signal.
I haven’t seen this intriguing-sounding film yet, but I’m guessing that this map is seen for a few fleeting seconds only and certainly isn’t meant to hold up to any in-depth scrutiny — it’s designed to set a mood, not define the transportation policy of a future Los Angeles.
For an interesting read about the movie’s portrayal of a public transit-oriented future in LA, see this Atlantic Cities article.
Historical Map: Tokyo Metro Map on a Passnet Fare Card, 2005
Certainly solves the problem of having to read a map over someone’s shoulder on a crowded train (or resorting to wearing one on your tie).
Passnet was a magnetic-stripe fare card in use in the Kanto region from 2000 to 2008: it’s since been replaced by the contactless Pasmo card.
(Source: Rob Ketcherside/Flickr)