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…
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.
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.
MedusaThis 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.
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.
Please check out my new website http://imagefoundry.wix.com/imagefoundry
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…
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.
Go Pilipinas! PUSO!
Hello, it’s been a while, so let’s get down with it!
I did this design a couple of months back but i kept pushing back its posting for other ambigrams. If you have not yet figured it out, it is supposed to read “Stop & Go”. A logo for a fictional neighborhood convenience store. While it bear characteristics of a perceptual shift ambigram, that was never my intent… it just kind of happened. (It seems like almost anything I do now, is ambigram influenced!) And because the logo was not set the way a perceptual shift amb traditionally is made or presented… I do have reservations in calling it as such. I’ll just let it stand as it is.
So, how did this started out? Well, the idea came while I was, stuck in traffic on a bus, on my way home. Looking out at the series of convenience stores and customers coming and going, got me thirsty. As I cannot board off just yet, I just trained my eyes on the flashing yellow signal light a few feet above where I sat. The actual image in my head was similar enough with the graphic on top. So, when I got home I took out a couple of scratch paper and let it all flow out! (Do not mind the words printed on the paper… it’s for my daughter not mine!)
Then off to Photoshop for image editing.
Now, while working on this post, I just realized something that I never considered before. WordPress lets you import animated gifs! Yup! As you may have guessed, the image on top is an animated gif based on the final jpeg image that came after the vector work. While I do most of my animation in Flash, most sites don’t support these files as well, it’s going to be so much easier and so much fun to present some of my ambigrams this way. So we’ll see how useful saving in gif would be in future posts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :-))
This one is an homage to one of the Philippines’ most enduring comic characters. Darna. She has been portrayed by at least 18 female actors (yes, there were male actors who also portrayed a version of her as well) has appeared in over ten “Darna” films since 1951 (not counting cameos) a ballet feature and three television serials.Like many of her American counterparts she began her adventures in comic books (or komiks, to us). The actual Darna character debuted in 1950 on the pages of Pilipino Komiks, but a previous incarnation of the same character (then called Varga) first appeared in Bulaklak Magazine in 1947. Both were essentially the same in concept where a little girl named Narda come in to possession of a bulalakaw (falling star) that turned out to be a magic amulet which transform the little girl into a super heroine.
(Unlike American comic books, our komiks usually are serialized anthologies, wherein an issue may have in them up to about ten stories by different writers and illustrators.)
The publishers owned the Varga character so when her creator, Mars Ravelo,moved over to Pilipino Komiks, he re-tooled the concept and gave her a new name. Darna, of course, is an anagram of Narda. This time the character was redrawn by Nestor Redondo, Filipino ace illustrator.
While she is oftentimes compared to Wonder Woman, Darna/Narda has more things in common with Captain Marvel/Billy Batson where both adolescents speak a magic word (or name) transforming them into their alter egos. And while Billy is not the one in crutches (his friend Freddy is) young Narda (‘though not always) is predominantly portrayed as a cripple.
This seemed to be a perfect word to do a symb with. It resonates with the way Narda transform into Darna after speaking the name and vice versa. It would be nice to also carve this on a white stone, similar to what Narda find in the “falling star’s” aftermath.
What took more time in doing this symb is finding a good version of the “N/A” flip to settle with. All the rendition below each have their pros and cons so I had to go with what I feel is right for the final ambigram. A nice way to solve the problem posed by the “A” cross bar is by replacing it with a star, which goes well with its flip counterparts.
Next Week’s Preview
Before we go, I thought I’d show you a sneak peek into next weeks post. But there is a small catch… you have to decipher it. (It’s a sneak peek after all). For your trouble, the first to correctly tell me the word/phrase will be gifted an ambigram of his/her choice. Just email me your answers and by next post (likely by May 11) we’ll get to know the word/phrase and hopefully a winner! Ambigrammists are most welcome to join in the fun but (damn!) you’re probably better than me so you’d have to make do with what I come up with… hehe 😉
Or Illuminatus I should say, as Ilustrado is Spanish and Filipino for “enlightened one”.
The Inspiration. Standing up against the colonizer, Filipino Propangandistas in the late 1800s -among them Jose Rizal- called themselves, Illustrados. These were young middle class men, fortunate to have studied and lived in Europe, who’s newly acquired knowledge and understanding enabled them to see and experience life far different from and more than what the Spaniards offered back home. In time, however, Ilustrado came to mean something other than being learned. As these middle class became key society figures and rich landowners, Ilustrado became synonymous to being wealthy, powerful, influential or elite. Privileged. I created this ambigram with the original definition in mind.
Creating the Ambigram. In a way, it took me more than nine months to finally finish this. As prior to settling with the word/phrase, I was trying out other ways of doing “Illuminati”. But because John Langdon’s work was impeccable, I knew there was no way I could come up with a “better original” if there could ever be such. Anything would still fall short, no matter how “creative” I try. December of 2011, I decided to try Ilustrado instead, inspired by the propagandistas. Turned out it was a lot more difficult to do than Illuminatti. It could be done, yes, but the trouble was- no matter how I tried, the flips I come up with seemed not good enough to be associated with the word. I had to find a “more creative” way to solve this puzzle. And trying to be “more creative” left me feeling just the opposite. I was stumped.
I was supposed to include Ilustrado among my “Revealed” submissions, so I re-worked on it. Sadly though, I just can’t finish it and even then, I don’t like my initial version. I was still stuck on the first two glyphs! So, it’s a no“go”. In between ambigrams I sneak in a sketch or two, trying to solve this puzzle. My biggest concern was the “I-L/O” correlation. I knew if I can get passed this, I can manage the other glyphs.
Aha moment came mid-November (2012).
Although I was already adding the “d” to the equation, earlier sketches weren’t as “put together” as this. Turning the “O” into a tail for the “I” was crucial. Add to that, a curve from behind to supply the tittle for the “I” would have to be done with subtlety. I knew I will have to to apply some tricky “overlapping/layering” tricks to “sell” the design.
I took my time tracing the pencils (especially since I had missed “Revealed’s” deadline by four(?) months then) as I tend (always!) to over think and overdo it and end up with different looking versions. It looked good. Except for the “U/A” flip, the crossbar in place was not helping and there is still something odd with the way strokes connect.
Solving this took an extra week! How I thought of removing the crossbar and replacing it with a diacritic then tilting one side of the “U/A” strokes a few degrees out- I don’t recall, but I almost banged my head on my keyboard for that belated action. That tilt did wonders! I almost decided on taking out the tittle of the “I” as I thought maybe I should avoid the mixed cases, but hold off on it as then I realized without that tittle, the curve that serves as the “D” bowl would be rendered moot. [Now I’m second guessing myself.] And since the design already look a bit complex, I thought it’d be best to just add very little embellishments.
In writing this piece I tried to look for the early designs studies to add to the developmental presentation but all I could find were the one above and this below.
I have had a few chances of having my ambigrams in the real world, and these two are a couple of “couldabeens”.
The logo is supposed to represent a record (music) label with “biker-theme” elements as the label is an “offspring” of a biker-themed watering hole here in Manila of the same name.
But as fate would have it, the guys chose a different design. Ugh (probably not into ambigrams). But that is not the troublesome part.
They were pretty much decided on the “look” of the logo, so no biggie. The ambigrams were just add-on bonus designs, if you will. You know, just in case.
The vector file I created the logos with, however, is dead. (I had to re-do the selected/approved logo design.) All I have left of these (as of now) are two med-res .jpgs and a couple of good .epses (whew!).
So how did the file die? I think I may have “over-populated” the file before I got the chance to distribute each design to individual files (there were about 8 designs, not counting the varying subtle changes created along the process). I tried looking for the usual backup file but alas! None. These things rarely happen, but they do happen. So chalk another one up for experience…
Nothing left to do but… recreate. Or let it go…
To those who were able to catch the suggestion/comment in Fellow Ambigrammists of our esteemed John Langdon a while back regarding this design’s previous incarnation (see design), well, here you go. Again a big, big thank you again to Mr. Langdon. (Why didn’t I see that before?)
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+ a stab +
Before I go for another round next week, here is a final “almost”. The Committee on Public Information’s Freedom of Information Bill hearing in the H.O.Representatives has been adjourned for November 27. It seems to be a downhill course, session break is near. The Senate has passed its version much earlier, so who knows really, the HOR may just be holding out for a grand…. nah, that’s just me seeing the glass half full.
I decided to use clear and simple font styles here. Keeping it “simple” gets the message across faster, much like what a bill like this could do as a law for common people seeking transparent governance.
Be safe, ’til next week.