That took a minute! Welcome… and welcome back.
After Issue 35 came out, I was adamant to have the next installment of the Ambiverse Series featured on this issue — DC nerds like me will get it. I had a good enough lead to finish up on all the pieces I wanted to do and those I had been working on and was confident that I’d make the deadline.
It seemed that everything was going along well when after Issue 50, work stuff derailed that. For nearly a year, ambigramming took the back seat. By the time I was free to get back on the drawing board, “I was off my rhythm”, I think was my justification. While I did sketched a lot, I procrastinated more.
Then my computer suddenly could not read my backup drive where all my previous pieces were! Cold chill running down my spine at the thought of losing all my data, never mind recreating every other unpublished ambigram, was enough to break the spell…
When I finally got it running again, I placed all my eggs on other baskets — multiple baskets — and found myself hatching away with a few more designs that weren’t part of my original lineup. Definitely, one of the better thing to come out of a hair-pulling event like that.
So after a 19-month break, finally, it’s here! I present Ambiverse Volume 2.
First up is Cyborg. #CyborgAmbigram #ChainAmbigram #Anaglyph3D
This was the first piece I worked on, immediately after Volume 1. The ambigram was created digitally, from vector to raster straight from my mind’s eye. I had the specific type thought of well ahead and I suspected that I’d likely have a workable solution if done as a chain ambigram. It was great seeing the y/b flip turn out to be as awesome as I thought it would.
I also imagined the final artwork as an anaglyph 3D hybrid where the ambigram would hover over the illustration, though with a bit of hesitation as the ambigram itself was already heavily stylized…
… but whattheheck! You only regret chances you never took, so, here we have an addition to the meager ambiglyph collection I started back with Issue 04.
Next, Atom. #AtomAmbigram
While I thought it would work nicely alongside the #FlashAmbigram and #ArrowAmbigram, rounding up the CW lineup representing the namesake shows plus DC’sLoT, this did not make the cut on Issue 35. The original ambigram design I had for “Atom” was done Blackletter style, so a rework was necessary… and not having an illustration at hand was kind of a big set back as well.
This one employed a bit of a cheat by using the arm of the W (M’s leg) as the K’s stem. Though, on its own the ambigram looks great especially on black and white, only now do I see, that it’d have been better served had I made the glyph/characters a bit heavier… maybe I’ll make an update on the next volume.
I was planning on including a Batman ambigram here, but it was quite similar (sharp tips, edges and all) to the relatively newer #HawkmanAmbigram above except that one is a mirror type ambigram. So instead, I went on to create Denny O’neil’s assassin getting medieval on us with the ambigram rendered regally with nubuck/leather texture on good-ol’ Blackletter.
Aquaman. #AquamanAmbigram #TotemAmbigram
THIS! …is my new favorite. Why?
Even before Issue 35, I had wrestled with this word/phrase. I’ve ripped voluminous pads of paper trying to solve “Aquaman” — see one of the older sketch I made below. Adhering to one of the tips I’ve listed on my essay in Issue 50, I was so fixated in coming up with what I narrowly thought of as a solution, working and reworking each glyph to “fit” my presupposed outcome, I had to walk away and was finally able to figure it out with a resounding “AHA!” just late last month! It’s ridiculously simple, one can argue that it isn’t even an ambigram.
And well, by virtue of patience I now have my very first #TotemAmbigram… always wanted to do one, never quite found the right mix, until this one swam up next to me and fixed its mucus-filled suckers on my face like Starro. As with the #CyborgAmbigram this too was straight up vector made.
Note: A Totem Ambigram is a vertically stacked or arranged mirror ambigram. A mirror ambigram, typically presented horizontally, is required to be symmetrical on either wing extending from it’s central Y-axis, making it readable on either the obverse or reverse side or when reflected on a mirror.
Having Aquaman and Shazam! come up fairly around the time their big screen debut is up is just a welcomed coincidence. I came up with the ambigram design around the same time as the #FlashAmbigram, but for reasons, my Captain Marvel illustration wasn’t to my liking. Or hehehe, let’s be honest, maybe I’m just really not that good with figure drawing… yeah, maybe that was it, so I just kept putting it off for later.
The featured illustration was finished fairly recent, just days after my external drive episode. I just sat down and scribbled away… took me three tries in two hours. I like his wide grin and arched brow.
This was not supposed to be here, but I thoroughly enjoyed Tommy Monaghan‘s exploits so much I had to sneak him in. Thank you, Ennis/McCrea. I wish DC would bring him back… better yet put him up in the big screen. DC’s answer to Deadpool isn’t Deathstroke, it’s the friggin’ Hitman.
The larger ambigram was based on my “HUMAN” piece this time set to a Serpentine-adjacent typeface. They have fairly similar configuration. Originally, I created a series of scratches chalking up death counts to form the original ambigram design, which when incorporated with the hatch heavy illustration, don’t seem to pay off, so I decided to make the switch.
And finally, Sandman/Morpheus. #SandmanMorpheusAmbigram #EndlessAmbigram #Symbiotogram
For a while now, I had been trying to finish my Endless Series (ambigrams based on Neil Gaiman’s opus) but I’m stuck with just these two plus Death…
As this also was not supposed to a part of this series, I thought it’d be such a waste keeping it all tucked away for when I finally get to really be working on the others. Better get it out there for critique so that I could improve on it and maybe force me to work on the unfinished ones.
The idea was: when all the pieces are finished, the Endless Series could be put together like a puzzle to form a larger overarching image. So for the time being, let us enjoy the preview below.
Below are composites of the initial pencils, created at different points in time, for the pieces featured on this post.
Thanks for going through this far on this essay. See you next time.
First, there’s ambigram, a word that still has a red underline on my spellchecker, and now this: AMBIGLYPH?
But, I’ll admit… ambiglyph is a made-up word.
Before you hit the X on the tab, please understand: it’s made up of two words – ambigram and anaglyph. It’s a Portmanteau.
(Cricket sound here…)
A Portmanteau is a word created from two (or more) words. The collective “Brangelina” is an example. The Vice President of the Philippines – Jejomar Binay, is supposed to have been named after Jesus, Joseph, and yes, Mary. Also, combining both parents’ names is pretty common here and I’m sure they do this elsewhere in the world… I think…. In any case almost every word we use is a word combo anyway: biotechnology, smog, motel, netizen, netiquette, emoticon… ambigram even, falls in this category too.
And with that behind us, on to Ambiglyph.
It all began after one of my submissions to the Ambigrams Revealed was turned down. And this was it. Yes, the image below is in 3D. It says anaglyph 3D.
Even before I got into ambigramming I already was tinkering a bit with anaglyph images, mostly for personal enjoyment, and when Nikita Prokhorov made the call for entries for “Revealed”, one of the designs I thought would be cool on that book would be the one above. In concept, at least.
On the onset I knew doing a rotational is out of the question (but I tried it anyway), the word had to be a mirror, at least until I find a way to work around the way anaglyphs work. Anaglyph images has this red and blue fields which render it three-dimensional when viewed with 3D glasses. Our left eye filters the red and the right eye the blue, that’s how our brain is wired, I think. If interchanged the brain recognizes it in reverse (the foreground becomes recessed and the back images pop up). Although in some images this may work, it may seem novel, but on others it’s just absurd. So being limited to this constrain I had to stick with doing the ambigram, mirror style (even if it’s easier doing it rotational). And besides, it should be more about the ambigram (it’s Ambigrams Revealed after all) and the anaglyph is there to sell the concept..
After a whole lot of sketches, this is the only one that made sense. A grungy graffiti type lettering on which the final design was based. This has to do. The problem I fought with was the “agly” correlation. And it really was an agly(sic) fight. The n/p in a way seemed more like q/p in hindsight. With the deadline near, I debated (with me) on whether I should send it in or not, as the final design looked like it was trying to do too much but wasn’t getting anything done. Yes, it’s more of an anaglyph image than an ambigram. With fingers crossed, I left its fate on the judges hands.
I already had a sense of the judges’ verdict as I kept on figuring the puzzle out, even before Nikita’s email came in. Don’t get me wrong: I find no fault in that, if anything, I saw it more as a challenge. I don’t know the judges’ personal take on it but I knew I had to rethink everything. I had this crazy nagging thought that there’s something I’m not doing right or some detail I’m missing, and that I needed to finish this… book or no book.
But when I was about to start the anaglyph process, it just hit me out of the blue, I guess. Since I’m combining these two disciplines… hmm… what if…?
After this constant nagging in my brain to find the solution to a fused discipline, all I needed to do was to fuse both disciplines’ categorical names! ANAGRA…
Wait!…Already taken, and means something totally different. By default then – it shall be: AMBIGLYPH. It has a nice roll to the tongue, though. Feels natural. And why not Ambiglyph, I ask. It’s two ways of viewing an image: as an ambigram and as an anaglyph, and that shall be its definition. My AHA! moment.
Off again to the scratch pads with a new word/phrase. The sketch was short, easy, and most of all unforced. Each glyph almost drew itself naturally. Vectorizing the scans went just as smooth. And all it took me from conception to completion was um… ten months? Whew…
Oh, by the way, I had 3D glasses on while working on the anaglyph effect.
So with that, I would like to share to you:
AMBIGLYPH (The Ambigram),
Finally, I thank you very much for coming over and reading my recounts of how I created this Portmanteau Ambigram. If you want to find out how to create anaglyphs there are loads of sites that teach the basic principles and there are even freewares available to help you start out.
And as a parting shot: After ten months, give or take, I think I may just have found a way of doing it rotational, so keep them 3D glasses handy, we might just get to see it one of these days.