Tag Archive | chain ambigrams

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

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.


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!