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!
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!
Her’s one ambigram design I thought would aptly help usher in a positive new year.
When I first started the draft for this post, what formed was a short essay on my fascination with time, as it is portrayed in sci-fi series of my youth, peppered in with dashes of trivial sci-facts and musings on concepts like its apparent entanglement with space. I was trying to find ways to lay some ground work to link it with steampunk and time travel that would eventually be unraveled in some future post featuring some connective ambigram themes, but I had to put it off a while as I thought this month’s featured design feels so much removed from the essay – or the other way around.
And then some recent not-so-spectacular event prodded me to go off on a tangent. This new composition I thought was more appro… relevant to the ambigram than the older draft. I have embedded below the recent post from my personal Facebook account from a week back recounting what led to my resolving not just the essay problem but how I was to present the final ambigram as well, if you so care to read up about it. It’s a couple of lines below… somewhere.
The past, the present and the future.
The proper Filipino terminologies of these words are nakaraan (past), kasalukuyan (present) and hinaharap (future). And while the words kahapon, ngayon and bukas could be substituted to convey the same concept, but with more urgency as they are more commonly used vernacular, they respectively translate literally to yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The first to be created of this three-part ambigram was Ngayon. This was in October, last year. I don’t exactly remember what led me to try out the word but what I do remember is immediately recognizing that basing the lettering on Avante Garde or Futura lends to very legibly formed glyphs. Ngayon was a naturally ambigrammable word, and it was created straight up vector with ease. As a side-note: you pronounce the “Ng” (the 16th letter of the Filipino alphabet) of Ngayon as you would the initial “ng” of bringing.
Feeling kinda smug about it, I decided to take on Kahapon and Bukas seeing if I could turn it into a symbiotogram. It.laid.me.wasted. I got totally ahead of myself with a 3-tier stacked word art with Ngayon smack center. The more I forced the issue the more the glyphs became convoluted and illegible. Turns out though that, individually, Kahapon and Bukas could be designed into chains quite nicely. I decided to go old school Blackletter with Kahapon starting off with the “o” as the link, then based the glyphs of Bukas from Bahaus – which kind of have this utilitarian simplicity feel to it – a common futurist theme, working it out from the “S” as the link.
Okay, I could have left it at that. Usually, when doing a circular chain ambigram I would just export the final vector .png file over to Photoshop then apply the Polar Coordinates filter and use whatever was produced on my final presentation. Of late, however, I had been taking an extra step. Some might say. could be achieved, probably far quicker and more efficiently when approached with or through some other means. Anyway, I import the outcome back to CorelDraw, my usual vector editor, and recreate a second iteration based on the newly filtered graphic, which at this point is – by all accounts a raster graphic. This way I’d have a crisp editable vector file of the chain now laid out in a circular pattern. I did this for both Kahapon and Bukas. It’s tedious and probably time consuming but not unnecessary as the practice is well worth it.
Still wanting to stack one word over another to – this time – simulate progression (in time), I decided to fashion them layered as a single piece. I really was – am – happy with the final outcome and I had it set like that, ready for posting intended for this month. With this blog’s 50th issue published last month (December) and out of the way at last, I started experimenting with the finished ambigram in my free time by laying it over different photographic images to see how it’d fare if such a requisite arise.
I went through a series of images from my personal archive and commercial stock. Some were okay but others were trying hard. The one above is from a series of silver lining photographs I had recently taken. Pairing the ambigram with this one seemed appropriate enough, but once I did, it looked dreary and frankly lends nothing to the ambigram and rendered the very image useless and unrecognizable. So I decided to forgo with the idea or at least set it aside and procrastinate until I really had to go through with it. It was after all almost just a whim on my part, as the composite ambigram design seems to be doing just fine by itself.
This one could be used as a steampunk clock face.
Until, a couple of Fridays back…
Okay, technically I could have just re-written or copy-pasted the texts here. But there were two reasons for me embedding the link here and presenting it as such. First (and likely the real reason) was I wanted to see if it would work! Embedding the link, I mean. On the previous post I had successfully embedded a video from my Youtube channel, and this time I wanted to try it out with some other social media platform. And there you go. Second was I wanted to show the image that inspired me – ‘though that really was a non-reason as I can just as easily, and independently, insert the image into the post. Sorry, but not really.
The final piece.
Laying the ambigram over the panorama was done in under a minute. While created at different moments and for different reasons, both elements it seems fit and complemented each other and I liked it a lot. Level completed, Ability unlocked, +1 Life added… press X to resume. It could just be bias, or you know fluffing my own feathers, but to me this final piece became more… poetic, as I currently grasp for a more fitting adjective. As to why – I can’t yet put in words and who cares, right now that is all that matter, to me at least.
And that my friends, was the first post of the year and the 51st, thanks to all who hung around and kept an eye out for this issue. Here’s hoping for a productive year, everybody. Now I’m going to have this printed large fomat and mounted in a wall in my house… just need to find that wall first.
#suliktad #ambigram #danadonajr #imagefoundry
UPDATE! (11 July 2019)
The website http://ambigr.am hosted one of its ongoing monthly ambigram competition – this one themed “beginnings”, and the Graces smiled upon my entry: BIG BANG, this very ambigram featured here! Well, thanks to everyone involved for the honor. Do look the site up for some wonderful ambigrams created by some very talented designers. Cheers!
With a mental picture of the word “BANG” in ambigram, I initially thought there was no reason to see it through especially without an exclamation mark to cap it. But the character type style I had in mind was a break away from the usual Blackletter type or the mixed Formal/Serif type I do, that I had to see if it’s actually doable. It’s almost a cross between Geometric type Sanserif and a Slab Serif, a very rare ambigram style, at least in my folio.
Anyway, with an almost finished form of the word done in CorelDraw, It just presented itself to me. Like having two particles colliding then creating all sorts of sparks and light inside my head. BIG BANG. The “B” and the “G” was already there and all I needed was a natural ambigram character… the “I”. But I thought it would even be better if I set the type in a heavier weight – very apt for the word I was going for… and have the word “Bang” lay over it (and I’m all about layers!)
I had no intention of providing a crossbar for the “A”, which I thought in this case would make the “N” less recognizable, but as it stands the form could also be read as “N-V, I-W or M-I”, so I know I had to do something other than the usual “safe trick” of a small glyph between the legs (that usually works with Blackletters and Serifs) as on the onset I knew it would not go well with the type style I had set the ambigram in.
Taking full in, what now had become a new concept, I cheated. I went to my unpublished work (for Ambiverse2) and reinterpreted the atom illustration that I used for a similar purpose. And I think it fits well here. Serving both as the “A” crossbar and an appropriate illustrative element (no pun intended).
Add a couple more instances of “BIG” in different sizes to simulate or suggest radial motion and a starburst behind… voila! The beginning of a new universe.
This piece debuted a couple of months back on the wall of the Fellow Ambigrammist Facebook page.
While Edwin Hubble was first to observe the expanding universe, it was actually Georges Lemaitre who proposed the hypothesis we now call The Big Bang Theory (not the sitcom) built upon Albert Einstein’s General Relativity. He was an astronomer, mathematician, physics professor… and an ordained priest, Jesuit, I think.
It was said that Einstein brushed this theory off initially because it did not conform to his (Einstein’s) static universe belief, but almost immediately after Hubble’s discovery was published, Einstein openly endorsed Lemaitre’s hypothesis. Einstein then denounced his own “cosmological constant” modifications on his equations allegedly referring to it as his “greatest blunder”… which, as it now turns out, astronomers believe could possibly explain the theoretical Dark Energy… but that’s another story.
Got that from watching a whole lot of Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson etal Youtube videos and BBC docus.
#danadonajr #ambigram #imagefoundry
Having been fortunate enough to work between 1994-2007 for the grand-pappy of labels in the Philippine recording industry, I had the privilege, in 2003, to collaborate with two of my musical heroes in time to commemorate over two decades of unparalleled contribution to OPM, Lolit and Pendong (sans Mike and Saro) of Asin.
Growing up with a musician parent has opened me up to appreciate a grand spectra of music genre, ‘though I feel that even without my father’s influence I would have gravitated onto some great music by myself. (He’s more of a standards kind-of-guy, but would later in his career sometimes crank it up a notch by taking on a few pop music in his repertoire.) As a “totoy” then a“Bagets” in the mid-70’s and through the 80’s, I was swept for a ride with the emergence of what is essentially the foundation of Original Pilipino Music (a distinct category in Filipino music separating it from the indigenous, the standards, the foreign covers and Kundimans): the Manila Sound, the Manila Pop(ular) Music, Pinoy Rock, Pinoy Novelty and Pinoy Folk- to which Asin’smusic is categorized. As (probably) with most of my peers, my introduction to the music of Asin was via a bootlegged cassette tape… and the 70’s and 80’s saw the proliferation of bootlegged everything in Manila, especially mixtapes. Along with their contemporaries, Asin’s music was teeming with social commentaries. Interestingly enough, the music they brought forth significantly plays more than just as background score to the most tumultuous part of the country’s contemporary history. Their music became staples in the cries for sociopolitical change at that time and for the years following. While classic OPM ruled the airwaves at that time, the early 80’s through the early 90’s saw its decline when MTV crashed the party, the Manila Sound, Pinoy Rock and Pinoy Folk has been relegated to weekend radio playlist up until a renaissance of sort took its place back mid-90’s.
Fast-forward to 2003 at Vicor Music, Lolit and Pendong had just signed a contract for an anniversary record release. Armed with my Nokia 3210 (yyyyup!), I got Lolit’s mobile number and forwarded her my bespoked ringtone “Cotabato” based on Ang Bayan kong Sinilangan. And because my boss’s office was about three meters away from mine I heard Lolit play the familiar 8-bit tune, followed by a short shriek and a roomful of chuckles. I was outed by my boss’s executive secretary (who btw gave me Lolit’s number) and was ushered in to be introduced as the guy to handle the album cover design and packaging. Pendong and his wife Chat just as soon, asked to be sent the same ringtone. (Whew!) Lolit later revealed that she shrieked because she was just talking about the song and Saro (their departed original vocalist) moments prior and thought it was a haunting!
The pictorial for the inlay, press and marketing releases was another first for me, as I had in collaboration, top caliber and veteran cinematographer Charlie Peralta behind the lens at Roper’s putting in to film what I had only a few days back sketched out. We would later on work on a couple more projects.
Creating the ambigram brought back a lot of great memories… working with the band, and of my 13 year gig at Vicor and even further back when I was younger. At times humming and/or bellowing out lyrics while bobbing my head with the full playlist in my head as I finalize the ambigram, making it a fun couple of days.
Although I almost hardheadedly kept on working on an S/I flip which had me going for a couple of sketches, a fairly easier and more pleasant solution was to, apparently, extend one of the “A’s” leg as a “tail” which would serve as the “N’s” back leg when flipped… making the “S” a perfect pivot. Stretch out each character a bit and ease out the tail to even up the spaces between the “I” and “N” when overturned. Since there were just two glyph to contend with, it was a fairly quick vector process than usual.
Based on the initial sketched design a vector file was created and then tweaked a few different ways. With the ambigram finished to my liking, I thought to myself that it would have been great had I known ambigram 15 or so years ago and have this piece (or a similar version) incorporated with the Baybayinscript on the cover I had done. But no… the Asin logo* holds way more coolness points with its history than this newfangled fan creation. Maybe on a future tribute album release or something… and after this maybe I’ll try a few more with other OPM legends.
#suliktad #danadonajr #imagefoundry
* The more commonly recognized Asin logo is actually it’s second logo. Earlier albums carried a stylized logo with the letters drawn as individual (salt) crystals.
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.
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.
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...
Panday is arguably the most popular Filipino male comic book hero, and second most iconic, next to Darna. (Ang) Panday ( (The) Blacksmith in English) was created in the late 70’s and fleshed out in to the big screen in the early 80s by Philippine Cinema’s Action King, Fernando Poe Jr., which most likely gave the character just the right amount “creds” for it to be catapulted and cemented to its place in Philippine pop culture.
Although the original cinematic version of Panday, presented ala fantasy adventure period flick, slightly differ from the source material which has a more contemporary flavor to it, all the basic premise are pretty much the same, wherein the blacksmith Flavio forges a dagger from a meteorite and uses it to vanquish evil despot Lizardo and his horde of Orc-like creatures, engkantos and plain clothes henchmen.
The final ambigram above is the third version in a series of sketches and redraws with play on either just Panday and Ang Panday. I went with Ang Panday as Flavio is most often referred to with his title within or outside the story. The other two versions are below.
Initial sketches go as far back as 4-5 years ago.
I decided to present the final art the same way I did the Darna ambigram in hopes of being able to continue on and create a series of homage pieces on Filipino comics characters, similar to what I intended with the DC Ambiverse series.
While I like the television series very much, I do not consider myself that big of a Game of Thrones fan or A Song of Fire and Ice for that matter, having yet to read any of the books, but I know enough to get me through the mythologies and politics per season – I think. Up until season 3, I mixed up who’s who, mistakenly renamed and mispronounced a lot of the places and characters in the show – except probably the main ones and Hodor, I always get Hodor right.
Going through Youtube season 6 trailer reactions a couple of weeks back, I began scribbling what I thought to be an easy flip – Lannister. From a simple monotype sketch, I began constructing from previously created Blackletter characters on my PC the first iteration of the ambigram, which was finished just as soon as started with it.
After that, came Stark, which was also easy. I would have left it at that if – I thought – Baratheon turns out to be a hard flip using the same glyphs. But it wasn’t that bad… so I pushed on.
Main concerns that I had to think around with were making enough distinction between capital and lowercase T and the varying nuances of the Ls and the Rs with respect to their correlating flips. As much as possible I don’t like mixing up caps and lows but with Baratheon I had to let it slide, because using a lowercase r will force me to use a lowercase T with the crossbar at the center or a lower case T glyph with crossbars at both end, which to me did not look good either way.
At the last minute I changed up the e/a flip of Lannister as well as the a/r combo of Stark to retain a streamlined face where all the characters look fairly the same throughout the set of ambigrams. All in all I thought the hardest one to pull off was the u/ll flip of Tully, but I thought I made enough compromise to make it work within the “constraints” I set in place.
And with that I present my Game of Thrones ambigram set.
And lastly… you may find it interesting that the last piece created (and I had thought of making) was this Game of Thrones ambigram, below, seemingly counter intuitive since it’s the show’s title and would make a great capper. With most of the characters and glyphs done it was a fairly quick edit. The main puzzle to be solved were center characters but largely what to do with the capital T. Incorporating the fleur de lis was a clever (or at least I thought it was clever) solution which wouldn’t be too much out of place since it’s found in the other pieces that kind of ties it all nicely together.