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QuickDraw Challenge

After I joined the community of ambigrammists in the now non-extant, I was asked by then moderator(?) Nikita if I’d like to take on a challenge that would be featured on one of the recurring segments of the website called QuickDraw.

It usually feature two ambigrammists taking on a soon to be revealed word, and would have a week or two to come up with a solution and a short description of the process. The other artist I was paired with (or against) was Bill Sterigoudis, who arrived with, interestingly enough, a similar solution.

Daunting to a noob who wanted to leave a good impression – especially after debuting a 1st runner-up piece to a then recently concluded contest – I agreed!

Below are both the pieces and the narrative it came with. Re-reading the text, I don’t know what on Earth I was talking about – which could (or not) be attributed to an evolution of sort of my ambigram making process.


Since this is my first QD Challenge, I was surprised to get a fairly simple word… NOT.

This turned out to be very challenging since I wanted to veer off from my usual font-styling.

However, in my experience a word or phrase and its letter correlation pretty much dictate the font style.

After deciding to do a rotational ambigram, I first did my letter correlation to see which letter match with which.

Then come in the sketches. I’m a very rough sketcher which tends to be a problem when digitally tracing the lines, but i’m used to it.

I set out to try and do an ambigram with intertwining letter parts, but if it’s not doable – I have in mind a simpler design.

The challenge here, I found, was the “a” and the “g-t” correlation. although “a” is simple enough, finding an accurate letterform to match the entire font style was tricky. solving the “g-t” problem took me longer than I expected.

I tried using the “r”‘s leg and even styling the “i” dot for the “g”‘s outer bowl. all in all this process yeilded me two font styles: one semi-gothic and the other scriptic.

I usually just do half the ambigram (for convenience, mostly). so i scanned the sketches and imported them to a vector based program for tracing and node editing. after fully re-creating the half-ambigram,

I line it up to see the whole image. then I tweak the ambigram basically to try and improve legibility and/or aesthetics.

After a half-a-dozen semi-gothic design varieties, editing the ambigram with either or both with CorelDraw and/or Photoshop as may be required, commences. I decided to go with a simple design with the Argentine flag as inspiration.

finishing the scriptic style, however, demanded more attention so it would not read “Vargentina” rather a double stemmed capital “a”.

I don’t know if I’d do it the same way were I to try and have a go with it today… probably yes, because looking at it with a “not-a-noob-anymore” eyes, I see a couple of places where I might make it less busy; where I probably overthought it.

Now, since this is basically a “re-upload” (and almost a cheat) I feel compelled to post another ambigram piece. If so, it will be the first time in a while since I posted more than once in a month! I kinda like it. And I think I have a cool piece for it (it’s just that I don’t have a narrative to go with it, hehe). So maybe I will do that by next week, yeah, for sure by next week so be sure to be here then, and thanks for dropping by.

st. elmo’s fire!

st elmo's fire circular chain ambigram by danadonajr 2016Take me where my future’s lyin’…

I’m just going to come out and say that although it was not the song – nor the movie – that inspired me to create this ambigram, it, however, kept on playing non-stop in my mind all the while I was in the process. And I will bet John Parr’s voice is taking up space inside your head and between your ears right now as you read these first few lines.

I don’t blame you.

sketch by danadonajr 2016
From a monotype sketch comes this fully digital vector. And while I was adamant on anchoring the chain on the “S” I was pleasantly surprised at how the dot on the “St.” abbreviation flipped over to be an apostrophe. As a whole my only concern with this is if the overturned “t” will be too much of an eyesore as it basically has nothing to do there but hang. But really looking at it (especially the full chain version) I thought it did not stick out too much like a sore thumb as I really had to look for that over turned glyph. And I thought to myself that if I even had to look for it, then it probably would not take much away from the whole picture.
st elmo's fire chain strip ambigram by danadonajr 2016st elmo's fire circular chain ambigram reversed by danadonajr 2016

I don’t really have much of an essay to write here as this is one of those spur of the moment ideas… I suddenly thought of it (a couple of months back) and somehow managed to finalize the artwork in about two days. Unlike my other ambigrams that I could go on with stories of wracking my brain to find a solution and finding little time to vectorize it- I am happy with this one, this was essentially an easy one for me.

Unfortunately though I could not think of a less obvious title for this post.

I can see the new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher...

Oktoberfest (Right Around the Corner)

Have you been to Munich in October?

If no, well, neither have I. Neither have I even gone to any of the local commercial events since the Philippines imported this German mass beer drinking concept. (Street beer drinking, however, is nothing new to us Filipinos). But that does not mean we can’t have our very own barrel of fun right now!

Presenting my take on Oktoberfest!

I say my take on it because the possible combinations and type style are limited only by the artist’s imagination and intention. There is no one “correct” way of creating an ambigram, all it needs to be – is legible. So with no further delay, below are the thought process and design progression in the creation of this ambigram.

Every ambigram I do starts with a sketch however simple or complex it may be. It also doesn’t always take the same form as the final design will eventually take on.


With Oktoberfest, I already knew on the onset two things: one: I wanted the the type to look like a German blackletter type as if created using a Speedball C-tip; and two: that the “s” will need a lot of creative pushing, that is why I didn’t rely much on my letter correlations.

(Letter correlation – I don’t know if other ambigrammists do this or what they call their process, but I line up the letters much like what one would do with a matching type quiz and find out from end to end which letter “co-relates” with which.)

Trying out different solutions for the “s” was getting me nowhere, so I tried a different approach – take the “s” out of the equation. The “e” and “t” went easy enough to form the stresses of the “o” and this was going along the general idea of how I wanted the type to look like. I placed the troublesome “s” just hanging a bit on the baseline. Here – when overturned it looked kind of like the counter of a small “o”, only larger and swooshier.


This was my “aha!” moment. Problem solved and the rest will be smooth sailing…. well not yet.

The next letters, though relatively easy, also needed just as much creativity. Because the “o – e” combination was critical to me, I had to make the “ktrf” correlation work. The letter “b” will also need to be, for lack of a better term, convincing.

Now, seeing that Oktoberfest is doable, off to the computer for scanning and vectorization.

When tracing scanned letters, be it for ambigram works, logo works or others, I start with the most basic glyphs such as the “t”, the “i” and “l”, even the diacritics. I believe that these letters are the foundations of the type. The shapes formed by these glyphs will be the basis of the stems, bars, arms, legs and general curvature of the next glyphs to be traced. Doing it this way makes the job quicker and easier.

After tracing the “s” I decided against welding it with the “e” and “t” to form the “o”. I felt that it will still be recognized for what it appears to be when turned upside down. The arm and leg of the “k” were also not welded with the stem for the same reason. Doing this also frees the “r” from the “f” making the “fest” part more readable.


The “b” took some doing, especially since I wanted it to still carry the same feel as with the “r”.


Deciding on the final look was just as tough, one can be overwhelmed with countless treatment possible. But after a few trials, I was happy with the italicized wireframe version and opted to keep it on a plain background. All in all this took me five hours from start to finish, (not counting the pauses in between). Don’t get me wrong, some designs, ambigram or not, do evolve and may not really get to the point of being actually “finished”. even this version may be tweaked still, but I probably won’t be doing some any time soon.


So there you go, in a few more days it all begins. I hope this read helps you go and try your hand at it or something similar and got you ready for some chugs. Me, I’m going for the pulutan.

‘Til next time, stay safe, don’t’ drink and drive.
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All images appearing here in this article are copyright protected and owned by Dan Adona Jr.
Below are sneak peeks on some of what’s coming very soon.