On an ordinary day, while working on a mundane ambigram for a personal project of questionable significance, I somehow unlocked an achievement… with a pretty unremarkable word.
Hello. Welcome back! It has been a while. Appreciate you dropping in.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of creating personal milestone ambigrams, most notably chain ambigrams – and the moment I got the hang of it, the once thought of as an arduous exercise became my second go-to experiment once the basic rotational won’t/don’t work. As exemplified with most of my newer ambigrams are chains.
One that I am very proud of is something I thought I could never come up for a long time is my Aquaman totem ambigram. A totem amb is basically a mirror amb with glyphs stacked on top of each. I never set out to do it as such and it’s obvious with the amount of sketches I produced leading up to the final AHA! moment. What makes my Aquaman totem unique is that it doesn’t really look like an ambigram. You’d think I just typed the characters on a single row and aligned it center… until you get to the “N” where it becomes clear that it’s definitely contrived.
Which leads us here. Another serendipitous creation. A spinonym at that.
A spinonym is an ambigram whose individual characters are flipped and/or rotated and/or skewed and/or inverted instances of a single glyph. In other words it’s the same “letter”.
Example: while the letters W and M could be just inverted versions of each other, the letters E and B (or the number 3) could just similarly be. However, for it to be categorized as a spinonym ambigram, they all could be represented by common glyph, perhaps like McD’s double arches, say for the word “WEB” or “MEW” (or “MEW3” if you are into evolving Pokemons).
As stated above, I was developing a thematically unrelated ambigram. The word was “games”. I was doing it directly on the PC referencing a minimalist sketch with the intent of arriving with a minimalist final art.
I have done a few G/S flips which while doable, sometimes could be tricky. The A/E flip on the other hand was relatively an easier task.
But wait, let me go on a tangent first, this is relevant to my process. Thanks. When I do types, I will most likely duplicate, chop off an reuse parts and instances of a glyph I find both pleasing and crucial to the final character design. It’s usually the letter “I” but could be any other that’ll be the foundation for all succeeding glyphs. This accelerates the design process and make the final design uniform. I do the same for my ambigrams.
So, after I ended up with a G/S glyph to my liking, I made a duplicate to be tinkered with. I flipped the “G” horizontally in preparation for the A/E glyph deciding to work on the “E” face first. The AHA! was immediate. Didn’t even have to chop anything off. I excitedly moved a few nodes in place and there it was. All it needed now was the “M”.
Shorter tangent: I had previously created a monoweight ambigram piece called “HUMAN”, so coming in I knew I’d be doing the “M” in a similar fashion, just three vertical lines with the middle shortened.
Done! Now I was only looking for stray nodes when another AHA! came. Was I that slow? Haha!
I again created an instance of the A/E glyph, reworked it a bit and arranged them to form: SAGE. No AGES. wait let me add…
Ladies and Gents, SAGES, my first spinonym.
Since, it was intended for a different word, I think the character design is a bit off for this specific word configuration, but it’s perfect for “games”.
While I’m glad I got another amb type for my folio, it’s the process of creation that got me most excited – even if it’s by accident. And that is why I’m going to try and purposefully design a spinonym with a character design befitting the word in the coming days.
Because the previous issue was practically just a reprint of an old write-up, I’m putting up this second post for this month. And it’s one flashy ambigram.
This one is has been gathering digital dust for over a year now. I cannot recall which came first, this one or my “Big Bang” piece, but you can see that I have similarly utilized the B/G flip. Just as much, I don’t remember what inspired me to create this, or what was the lead up to it, but I recall being excited after having figured out out the LI/N solution more than the B/G.
I love how whimsical this ambigram look, beginning with the letterform right down to the inlaid mesh – which took me a damn long time to get just the way I like it!
Unfortunately, that’s all I have to say about the piece… I love it, I damn like looking at it but other than that I got nothing!
So see you next issue, then!
After I joined the community of ambigrammists in the now non-extant ambigram.net, 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.
You could say that this is one of those ambigrams that I’ve been trying to design for sometime where the solution has been staring back at me for just as long.
Stubbornly trying to create a straight up rotational ambigram, only recently did I realize that by making a convincing ligature for the glyph that would be in place of the “O” which in turn leads up to the “S’s” beak, I could create a decent chain ambigram. Just enough not to make it too different from the two other Os of the typeface I chose to emulate, nor getting too far off with the play on the angel/demon symbols.
This is my take on Gaiman and Pratchett’s successful collaboration. I have always enjoyed Gaiman’s work and Sandman was my gateway drug. If you navigate back to issue 52 of this blog, you may see my ambigrammic take on it along with other DC Comics properties.
Each glyph with this configuration is the most natural looking so I settled on it, with only the O/S flip really to contend with. As with other ambigrams I do, there is another version that looks totally different typeface-wise. This one is more of a Blackletter type that although was second to be created was an easier exercise. However, I thought that this final version was easier to read.
And here below is the B/W version of the final ambigram, laid over the one of the original sketches.
As a bonus, here’s the other version as a case study.
While the “M E N” glyphs are legible and the forms are very consistent, the others seems too obscure even when I tweak either the height or the weight (thickness). Also I find the O/S flip weak as compared to the final version.
A little housekeeping before we go. This feature preempted a throwback posting of a design I submitted to a head to head ambigram-off called QuickDraw on a now unfortunately closed website. I’ll go to specifics by then and it’s probably going to be put up next month unless…
It’s an old piece and pretty rough around the edges but we’ll get to my personal progression.
Anyways, to tie things back to this post, I’m still trying to complete the “Endless” series of ambigrams that I was finally able to initiate with the “Sandman/Morpheus” symbiotogram (see issue 52). Here’s hoping I could put it up before the year’s end.
Oh, and by the way, the wing elements I used on the background were downloaded from https://www.uihere.com/ and guess what? They’re free! The texture is mine, though.
Created by Jim Fernandez in the ’70s, this demigod is the spawn of the Aztec serpent god Kukulkan. This bald, green hulk of a monster’s most prominent features are the two constrictors protruding (about a couple of feet) from either side of his shoulders.
Regarded more as a villain, he enjoyed a considerably extensive publication that has spun off a couple of series in its heyday, was adapted into films, and had its revival in print a few years back.
When I first featured the “Darna/Narda” symbiotogram, I never thought I’d get to make a follow-up issue, much more a third! I’m glad that should this be the last Filipino comic character I ambigrammize – (hopefully not), at least I capped it off with a sort-of-trilogy (XD). To think while “Panday” was published first, “Zuma” was conceived earlier – only that I was not satisfied with the first iteration, so it got pushed further back.
This piece was finished last year after a lot of tinkering with the main glyphs and the final image itself, about the same time another ambigram piece (based on a more internationally well known literary classic which will definitely be featured here sometime soon) was done.
Unlike the two previous “Komiks” feature’s isolated overlaid rendering, I decided to set the ambigram as a stone relief, emulating those artifacts found in the famed 16th century Mesoamerican sites.
But, it wouldn’t be much of a series if I don’t set this image on the “Komiks” page background… so here it is.
I’ve also included the progress sketches and final line art, so you could get an idea on how the design evolved from a possible mirror ambigram solution to its current rotational interpretation.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge a couple of creators whose work I used to enhance mine. Although Pixabay says no attribution is required, yet it’s the least I could do when they’re absolutely free – even for commercial use!
Yes, it has been a while.
To make up for the long absence (or at least try to), this feature is a special one. It is called Tempus Fugit.
Finalized in a stylized Blackletter Type, this is not my first remake of an previously created ambigram. But this get to be the first to be showcased. The first iteration of this design, created about five or six years back, was more Script in form, though similarly a chain-type ambigram.
While I was very much happy with my first take on the phrase, it was pretty obvious (to me) that I could improve on it – didn’t know how or what, but I was positive a better version could be done.
After a whole lot of sketches over time, I thought I made a breakthrough last year and fired off my CorelDraw. Took maybe four days shuffling back and forth with Draw and Photoshop to get to what I consider to be the final ambigram.
However I might take the ambigram further by incorporating it with a steampunk sculpture I have been meaning to do – soon as I find a way to punch it out of a metal sheet.
But in the mean time, we’ll just have to make do with a vector file.
Along with a photograph of the original ambigram in a real world application made in 2014, please be amused by my #taketwo on Tempus Fugit.
In the previous installment of this blog I briefly mentioned the lag between posts. And as I was trying to finish up on the artworks for that (while simultaneously procrastinating) I was able to sketch out and work on a whole lot of other ambigram designs. This is one of those.
The Haribon (a portmanteau of Haring Ibon or Hari ng Ibon), literally, king of birds, is endemic to the archipelago and has dislodged the (Red) Maya as our National Bird for about 20 some odd years now. Previously (mis)named Monkey-eating Eagle for it’s initially reported dietary habits, this wide winged predator is still listed as endangered mainly due to displacement by deforestation. A monogamous pair breed usually every other year, hatching only one chick to rear give or take until about a year after.
Going in, I was hoping for a mirror ambigram as a final result – so i can top it with a graphic rendering of the bird with its glorious shaggy crown and wings spread wide. But as I’ve always known for it to be, it’s the word that dictate the form. This time it’s a rotational ambigram.
I tried out other faces but Blackletter makes it more regal. After the final ambigram was created, I opted to simulate the gradient hatching pattern usually found in currencies.
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.
#suliktad #danadonajr #imagefoundry
Could not really find time to write a full essay for this suliktad as I had been busy with my workload for the past weeks. And the coming weeks will prove to be just as crammed (although I have a full week of Eid Al Adha vacation) as I fortunately landed a couple of design jobs that’ll need my full attention.
I made two ambigram versions of the word KAYUMANGGI. While fairly similar in construction, the first one is sort of a script/brush type rendering of the ambigram and the second iteration is more of a serif type. These two, however, are recent versions- a remake if you will… after a thoughtful “autocritique” on the merits of the earlier version’s form.
Kayumanggi is a word that both refer to the Malay skin tone and to the Filipino as a race. However, the use of the Spanish moreno in the vernacular in reference to our skin color elevated the word kayumanggi to a regal descriptive word for the Filipino ethnicity.
So, I proudly celebrate the Filipino (with its faults, flaws, misgivings and imperfections) with the suliktad, Kayumanggi.