Tag Archive | ambigrams

of things that go bump in the night (part2?)

Philippine folklore is a treasure trove of characters from the silly to the scary. Today, in line with the upcoming Halloween festivities, I present to you an ambigram of one of the country’s scariest. He’d probably rank somewhere between the Manananggal and the Tikbalang.


The Kapre is a dark skinned, foul smelling, cigar chomping, acacia tree dweller. Depends on who you ask, this gigantic night creature could either be a malevolent creature bent on impregnating an unsuspecting virgin or just a recluse who, if smitten, will not stop until he gets his way- kinda like a male Alex Forrest ( Fatal Attraction) with supernatural/paranormal powers. He is a prominent fixture in horror flicks and camping stories.

In coming up with the design, I thought it’d be appropriate (and cool) to set the characters to mimic the lettering style of classic horror movies. That green glow just add to the eeriness.

So, I hope this inspired you to create something for your Halloween needs, and sorry I had been a bit busier than usual to write on this space. Just keep checking back in for more ambigram works. The next few issues will be worth it. For other stuff I’ve done, please check out http://imagefoundry.wix.com/imagefoundry. Thanks!


stuff myths are made of

I am dropping four “A”- bombs today.  This is to make up for nearly (okay…, over!) a month of neglecting this space. So, bahala na…, I’ll be starting off with…

created by danadonajr2013

BATHALA is a Tagalog deity worshiped by the pre-Christian Filipinos whose mythology still remain intact even after 300+ years of Spanish-brought Catholicism.

Belief in Bathala, whose name is derived from the Sanskrit “bhattara” (noble lord), came by way of Indian traders most likely via south-west of the archipelago. ( I just learned that in Indonesia, Batara is a traditional reference to a male deity.)

The creation of all life is attributed to him by the Tagalogs (a Filipino ethnic group) and is believed to be living in kalawakan (heavens; or more like somewhere over and beyond the clouds), similarities he has with the Christian God which the Spanish friars used (exploited) in converting the natives. Thus the term Bathala became synonymous with God, however, the more common Filipino translation for God is Diyos (from the Spanish: Dios). Note that our ancestors, being animists as well, believed Bathala dwelt also in the trees, in rivers, in the air, even in rocks and mountains.

The somewhat fatalistic Filipino idiomatic expression “Bahala na” (which could mean: “God will provide”; “come what may”; or even “whatever”) is derived from Bathala. It’s a coping mechanism in times of uncertainty, where one cast all care aside and leave (and accept) his fate at the hands of God … Or where one rest his well-being on someone else,  as the terms: bahala (take charge) pamamahala (governance) pamahalaan (government) all can be traced back to Bathala.

The piece above, along with the next two, were submitted as entries to an ambigram challenge over at ambigramsrevealed.com.  Edited background used in this piece was from psdgraphics.com, check them out as they’ve got loads of free stuff for downloads there.

created by danadonajr2013

NOT the Marvel superhero but the Norse god to whom the same comic character was based upon. The character style was inspired by the History Channel’s Vikings series. And it was around that time (after completing season 1) that I made the initial drawings. A major design decision I had to make was to go with a central “O” or an “H/O” flip. I thought that former would be more of a challenge (and prettier ;-)) so I went with it. I will admit that I had doubts on the legibility of the ambigram as even my trusty audience had a long and hard time deciphering the word.

While the ambigram itself was done for some time now, only until the challenge came out did I decided to “finalize” it with Photoshop. I added the weave pattern, basically, to emulate those that are found on Mjolnir trinkets and other Nordic items. I would’ve wanted to add blood spatter on it but thought it’d be too much.

Medusacreated by danadonajr2013This piece is a gorgoneion. In ancient Greece (I read) warriors were said wear these kinds of amulets on their shields (and even on door panels) as protection or something to ward off harm. Though usually depicted with a disembodied head facing the spectator, I opted to go top view showing only the “snake-hairs” as they slither in and out beside one another. Then I finished it off looking as if it was carved on a marble slate.

There were a couple of other ways (I found) to doing a Medusa ambigram- but this way (a chain ambigram), I thought, suited my intentions.

and lastly, Maharlika.

created by danadonajr2013

Now, Maharlika is not a mythical character like the three above. Owing to its Sanskrit origin, “maharddhika” meaning, a man of wealth, knowledge or ability, it has come in modern times to be defined as nobility. During pre-colonial Philippines, however, the Maharlika were of lower class of nobility that served the lakans, datus, or rajahs in times of war, they were the warrior class. Above them were the freemen called Timawa and on top of the hierarchy were the ruling class called Maginoo ( the lakans). At the bottom  were the Alipin.

I included this ambigram in this post because it was created with the same character style as with Bathala. Since both  words were of Sanskrit etymology, I thought it would be appropriate to use the same character style. The Maharlika ambigram was created just a couple of weeks ago, after I started redesigning each glyph of the Bathala ambigram into an actual functioning CG font (which is still a long ways from getting published).

Below is a comp of the sketches and initial design exploration of all four ambigrams featured today.

created by danadonajr2013

Please check out my new website http://imagefoundry.wix.com/imagefoundry

a gallant stand!

August 10, 2013 will now forever be regarded as one of the defining moments in Philippine basketball, when we finally broke our roughly 3-decade failed international campaign in this giant dominated game. When we  convincingly defeated the strong Korean cagers who for the longest time had been a thorn on our side. When we earned a very elusive spot on the FIBA world stage. Never mind us losing to a behemoth Iranian team the following night to bag the silver medal. All that matter is, while I myself (and Coach Chot Reyes, too) have no illusion of the national team winning the FIBA World Cup title, we get to show our wares there. We get a stab at the prize and make a gallant stand for the fatherland’s honor.

All thanks to the aptly named national team, GILAS Pilipinas!

Gilas in Filipino could mean any or all of the following: bravery, gallantry, nobility, courage, chivalry, heroic, daring, gutsy, virtuous and valor. I’d say the team most definitely lived up to their name that night (not taking away any admiration to the team’s previous incarnates). And to all athletes (not just cagers) who at any point in time had wore the flag over their hearts, this ones for you too,


The first version of the ambigram above was posted on my personal fb account, on 10 August. It was “rushed” as I came up with it with over three minutes left in the game. But looking at it again I felt (and so does m y wife) it read more like “SUNS” (note: there is a “SUNS” ambigram at the middle of Phoenix’s homecourt) so I reworked the design…


and came up with…

2013 by danadonajr

While I like the “a/il” flip here, I don’t think people will see the “a” as an “a”, so I went back to the drawing board and worked in a small capital A in its place for the final version at the top.

Implemented on the ambigram is the Philippine flag’s unique characteristic (blue field on top while at peace-time/ red field on top while at war). So when the tough gets going we turn the ambigram over to signify we’re no push overs and we mean business.

we mean business 2013 by danadonajr

Go Pilipinas! PUSO!


This post has been in the drafts section of this blog for quite some time now, and I guess it’s about time it’s been published as I have already preempted its “premiere” by posting this (<click) on my facebook account. That link is to my rarely used youtube channel.

I created this symbiotogram for shirt design contest with the theme “In Love We Trust”. The full design entry did not get anywhere but I had a blast creating this one. You see, more often than not i tend to create “overly thematic” ambigrams— okay… “flashy” might just be as fitting — but this one has very minimal (read: unnecessary) “flourishes” as other ambigrammists call them. I did not even add any effects to it! (In truth I did versions of this ambigrams with effect but I just couldn’t make it work.) I guess sometime you just have to leave it be. 😉


When inverted…


And this, boys and girls, is the original idea/ sketch….
trust loveHave a nice weekend.


the captain of my soul

I took time off ambigram work on the computer and focused on a number of house tending in anticipation of the monsoon season. And although that included putting on hold posting my current designs here, I managed to sneak in a few sketch works here and there. I hope you all could stay tuned in and watch out for these exciting ambigram designs.

Anyway, this piece here today is dedicated to me. Yep. This ambigram feature / design is dedicated to me for personal reasons.

And the ambigram feature is: INVICTUS.

invictus 01

This chain ambigram was inspired by both the movie and the poem (which also was what inspired the movie based on South African President Nelson Mandela’s efforts in uniting his country). The poem was written by William Ernest Henley in 1875 and it was originally untitled. The title Invictus (which means unconquered/ unconquerable in Latin) was a later addition.

I’m sure you’d much rather learn for yourself what the poem (and the movie)  is about that read it here, and formulate your own appreciation for either one. Let me tell you ‘though you won’t regret a moment taking time out to look at both masterpieces.

So on to the ambigram. The real hump on the road to the creation of this ambigram was the “ctus” flip. After it became obvious that I’d be taking it to the chain “route”, I began with a couple of sketches that seemed to work fine.


After each glyph was vectorized, I decided to turn it into a rotational chain. We have two options in achieving this. One is by using the Polar Coordinates filter in Photoshop and the other is duplicating the final word using angle rotation in Corel. I chose the latter.

invictus cdr

After all glyphs were set, I used Fit Text to Path to add in the last two lines of the poem to the final chain to achieve the design above. Also, I fitted all the lines of the poem onto a spiral path to achieve this design below.

invictus 02

And that is it, an inspirational ambigram all for me, and of course to those who take time out checking out what I’ve been up to. Thanks, everyone.

ouija: steampunk occult

ambigram by danadonajr2013

On the previous post I brushed up a bit on the topic of using an existing font in ambigram creation. Well, now I used an existing  font again this time as inspiration for this ambigram. I also reused a letter I have previously created for another ambigram, see.

This week’s feature is OUIJA. I don’t recall how or why exactly I did this ambigram. It’s not like I’m into this superstitious stuff. I, however, am interested in the art that comes/goes with magic and the occult.  Especially if it has that steampunkish feel.

Now, I understand, Ouija is a trademark of a Hasbro boardgame. A game! As to how it became an instrument of the occult, I can only guess.

Here in the Philippines, we don’t actually use a board and/or a “planchette”. I remember when I was young, a bond paper with the alphabet scribbled on it and a drinking glass were used for this spine-tingling “game” aptly called “Spirit of the Glass”. Same principles apply, participants ask the “spirit(s)” to enter the glass and once it’s there, you may now ask it questions. I have only done this once (I believe I was in grade school, then) and while we were at it, I realized we were just a handful of stupid kids trying to convince ourselves that a lonely spirit inside the glass was indeed moving it from letter to letter. I couldn’t even make sense of the words that were spelled out! I will admit, though, that I had goose bumps before we had the paper and the glass laid out. The anticipation was a killer, the actual channeling though was anticlimactic.

So now we’ll move on to the ambigram itself.


These were the initial takes on the word. The first set was based on the font Morpheus. And as you can see by looking at the font, the “A/U” correlation of the word will be easy enough by just replacing the “A” crossbar with a dot or in this case: a star. Other versions of the glyphs were tried out but I went with a combo that jives more with the theme I had pictured on my mind.


Then came the linking of the chain. While working out the letter correlation prior to the vector work, I marveled at how easily the glyphs fell in to place. It was so easy that the challenge was more like: how long it took me to recognize the “ambigrammability” of the word.


After linking the ambigram, I began designing the board. I had decided that the alphabet and the numbers will be laid out around the ambigram, set to the font Morpheus. Initially I thought doing a vector art would be good enough but this design had been collecting digital dust (for roughly over a month) on my hard drive that I decided I might as well work on a bitmap version. Took me a couple of  hours to get to where I was satisfied with the look of the design on top. But knowing me, I might just do some exploratory rework on it, someday.

That’s it for this post, hope you like the design and do check back in next week for a new ambigram design! (or an anaglyph series… we’ll see :-))


is the answer to the preview question of the last post a couple of weeks back. One person came really close with his guess, though. Thanks for dropping in Vasileios, pal! Appreciate it.

Now on to the ambigram. Here are four variants of the word. They essentially are drawn from the same glyph/ character form and surely you have noticed they only differ with the “So/d” correlation. And have you noticed the seemingly familiar lettering?

songbird 02songbird 03
songbird 01
songbird 04

While rummaging through my old stuff, a couple of days prior to doing this ambigram, I came upon this old study/design intent I had done for an audio CD cover. It’s supposed to be for a cover version recording of all the songs by Regine Velasquez (popularly known here as “Asia’s Songbird” because of here sweet yet powerful voice). I instantly recognized the font I used for the main title: Scriptina. Hehe, I remember there was a time I was heavily using this font, and ‘though I still get requests for it to be used on certain designs, I try to steer clear from it if I could.

What interested me more with this find is that, while I had the design upside down I could easily make out the word, not because I was familiar with the album title, but the glyphs were so similar, well except for the bottom part of the “d” it was nearly a natural ambigram. Well it could also be because of my exposure to ambigramming that I’ve developed this not so unusual ability to recognize words set in odd orientation.

Here is Songbird set to Scriptina right side up:

songbird rsup

and here it is upside down:

songbird usdn

So naturally, I started tweaking the glyph as soon as I had the type set. And there are countless possibilities not just with the “So/d” correlation but with the tittle of the “i” depending on your appreciation. I went with a shorter tittle on the final four designs because the “n/ir” tended to resemble an “m” with the longer one combined with the  inverted (stem) ligature of the “r”. But that’s just my take on it.
songbird studies

The next ambigram preview to be deciphered is a little tricky, so good luck.

ambigrams revealed

…is now out! (Actually, it’s been out for nearly a month now….)

And I feel so honored to have three of my designs featured along with the works of respected and uber talented  ambigrammists from around the world. It’s all thanks to (the author) Nikita Prokhorov’s efforts and everyone at ambigram.com.

If you have been following my posts you may have already seen the two designs that didn’t make it through. And want as much to show you those that did make it, I don’t want to spoil the fun of discovery – well probably until (hopefully) a second book come out and I get to be a part of it again. Oh what the heck! I’ll show at least one.

This on is called pasko!  It’s Filipino for Christmas. The other two are steampunk(p114) and peoplepower/martiallaw(p132). Pasko! was created in Nov 2011 for the seasons challenge at ambigram.com. The other two were made after the call for entries for the book were made.

Even now, I get goose bumps while reading the book and coming across three familiar designs with a familiar name just below it. I can’t help but remember 20-something years back… me sitting at the end of a six-sitter table at the reference section of the University of the East, Kalookan library. To my left— a seven tier shelf containing an odd assortment of books, of which only four books were related to design. Graphis Annual ‘ 77, ’78, ’79, (I think) and a Blackbook. Mind you this was in 1988 through 1993. Outdated as the books were, within them were an awesome collection of poster designs, logos and letterheads, illustrations… things a young design student need to get those creative juices flowing.

I guess this is what got me into buying art/design books as soon as I had the capacity to, and wishfully thinking I’d soon get my work on one of those books. The first one I bought was Brad Benedict’s FAME2 for P200.00. And for a student back then it was a luxury. I still don’t have enough books to call them a “library” but it’s enough to fill up a couple of crates and a shelf to use with work.

Now I get to add to it a one-of-a-kind book! A very special book made by a crazy Russian who got a lot of us unknowns to showcase our work alongside heavyweights! Dream…come…true!

Ambigrams Revealed is available via Peachpit Press’ website and wherever books are sold online. I just wish our bookstores could make it available, locally. If you’re interested to know more about ambigrams, Nikita has just put up ambigrams revealed.com. Look it up you won’t be disappointed. You could also check out the FB group FellowAmbigrammists and of course ambigram.com. To be honest, I can’t remember how I came upon ambigram.com. (could be a search for John Langdon’s work?) But I’m glad I did, and I’m glad Mark Hunter (site owner and ambigram genius himself) decided to keep it going even without Nikita. Am looking forward to what challenges these two has got cooking on their sites.


This ambigram has been collecting digital dust on my hard drive, for quite some time now. Ever since I was able to create ambigrams, I have been trying to crack this word. And boy!.. it was not easy. The initial attempts on this word were poor rotationals. How on Earth can I flip a “T” into an “O” and be convincing enough to look similar to the next “O” which should be an “A” when flipped? Add the challenge of finding an appropriate font style for the final design.

During one of my sketching sessions I realized that the only (probable) way  of turning the word into an ambigram is by doing a chain. Trouble is: I have not done any of that sort yet, so I don’t really have a set technique to get through with the process. But I’m not one to give up on a puzzle ( it might take me long to figure it out but I’ll keep at it).

tattoosketch  tattoosketch2  tattoosketch3

The key to the chain, I found out is the “A-T” flip, as the rest of the glyph fall snugly in place (thank God!). It took a while to find a good style as well, but I think I managed to do that. Now, making it oscillate is another challenge. I used to edit each glyph until it forms an arc that I can duplicate over and over. But I was able to pick up on a trick (thanks, Carl Mehling) by a fellow ambigrammist. It’s something I should have thought of because I’ve been using that Photoshop technique as well, only on images, never realized it’d be perfect for ambigram work. Two words: Polar Coordinates. (Wink, wink.) So I laid out the glyphs as I would on a regular rotational ambigram and made a continuous chain of about six sets.

tattoo oscillate2tattoo oscillate1

The final stage (which took the longest) was creating a suitable design for the word. It seemed easy finding just about any tattoo clad guy with my personal connections but I just was not happy with what they had on their skins. So I guess either I tattoo the design on me or do an image manipulation. Decisions, decisions.

I think you guessed as much that, that guy up there is not me.

I’m not afraid of needles, but I just can’t find a good enough reason for me to do skin art. Even with my ambigrams.

I hope you like this week’s design feature as much as I enjoyed doing it. Every day it took to finally come out with it was well worth it for me. After all this was my first attempt at an oscillating chain, and because of this I was able to come up with a couple more, which will be featured here really soon. By the way, the image I used for the illustration was downloaded from istockphoto.com using credits I got from an online contest I joined. (Will be featuring that soon as well!)

Thank you and please drop back in next time!