Tag Archive | design

the nice and ineffable ambigram of

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.

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komiks 3: zuma

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.

zuma ambigram by danadonajr 2019

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!

The stone background image is by Peter H while the torn paper is by Sarah Richter, both from Pixabay. Hope the links work.

time flees

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.

Tempus Fugit Ambigram by danadonajr
Tempus Fugit. Ambigram Redux
Tempus Fugit , 2014 iteration

Aves del Rey

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.

#haribon #danadonajr 2018 #ambigramThe 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.

st. elmo’s fire!

st elmo's fire circular chain ambigram by danadonajr 2016Take me where my future’s lyin’…

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.

sketch by danadonajr 2016
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.
st elmo's fire chain strip ambigram by danadonajr 2016st elmo's fire circular chain ambigram reversed by danadonajr 2016

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...

oratio paganus

According to Philippine urban legends, it is around Semana Santa (holy week) when the power of talismans (or agimat or anting-anting) manifests itself fully. Especially on Good Friday.

When I was young, I hear of tales told of men and women largely from the Southern Tagalog provinces, testing (or showing off) their talismans, which by the way is pronounced talis-man as opposed to the western tal-is-man, in what could be described as a grand fiesta or parade.agimat-talisman danadonajrAfter an oracion – a prayer spoken in “Latin” – was made, usually around 3pm, to a revered piece of rustic coin-sized smelted metal engraved or cast with either pagan symbol or Catholic imagery, that is either folded inside a similarly venerated cloth or worn around the neck tied to a crude leather twine as a jewelry, the test begin. Since my Latin is limited to those I learned in Biology, I cannot attest to the veracity of any Latin prayer in the stories, ‘tho I think that it’s mostly broken Castellano. Sporting a big grin, participants would hack themselves with a recently sharpened bolo (or any similarly fashioned exhibition) showing the bewildered spectators that indeed the power of prayer and faith in their talisman of choice prevent any harmful affliction.

Supposedly there are number of different specialized agimat. The one I described above is a typical one that block any harmful physical effect. There is also a tagabulag (bulag = blind, blindness) which renders the wearer invisible, and there are those that prevent sickness or poisoning. There are those that are supposed to enhance one’s virility and endowment, and there are those that increase chances of instant financial gratification, yes, a charm for gambling.

This pagan exercise has become intertwined with our Catholic faith, wherein a number of proliferating agimat now bear Christian iconography and mostly all of the deities prayed upon were replaced with names of Catholic cast of characters, however, our version is tied to our South-East Asian (Malay) roots. While the west have just as much rich narrative in their versions of the talisman, I think that the innate nature of Filipinos being a superstitious society made the amalgamation of multiple influences seamless. We are very much welcoming of other nations superstition and brew them in with ours.

Our pop culture is littered with references to heroes owing their powers to such items. A usual story would be of young men seeking hermits and after proving their worth were presented with a highly sought after talisman. While most agimat now can be commercially bought along the side streets of old churches, it used to be that amulets and charms were handed down by elders in their death beds- these are supposed to be the more powerful ones. Although, I remember that talismans provided by nature are even more powerful. Most popular is the Mutya ng Puso ng Saging, where one would need to religiously wait at midnight for it to drip from the tip of the banana blossom and catch it with their tongue. The actual power gained from this ritual seems vague as most story present the hero with whatever the storyteller come up with or as maybe required, ie, plot convenience. But the Mutya has got to be the most romanticized story of the agimat ever.

Personally, my draw to the agaimat is a result of me being a writer/dreamer/artist/creator and I celebrate its place and hold in my culture. But to its efficacy?… nah, maybe when I was 10. Although Manila is a very techie world now, to a certain degree a lot of Filipinos still swear by the agimat, which again I attribute to our superstitious nature. And admit it or not a lot of our historical (and present political) figures and leaders as well believe in the agimat.

talisman danadonajr

talisman only carve3danadonajrdanadonajrThe talisman and agimat suliktad were created a few years apart. While I have sketched agimat sometime 2008-9, it was only finished early 2015 to what it currently appear after a series of re-designs. Talisman was sketched early 2016 and was finished to the current style just recently, after a series of re-designs as well, which was an afterthought to make it similar to the style of agimat after realizing that I should put these two together since they are basically the same thing.

Although in creating talisman, I have the option of designing it to a fairly doable rotational ambigram, I opted to create a chain instead as I wanted to preserve the “s” flip more than anything and I really intended for it to form a ring around a symbol, which in the final design turned out to be the word agimat.

The coin and the oracion page were recent edits. However, the coin was a poor scan of the 70’s Jose Rizal peso coin that I had made around the same time in 2008-9. The distressed oracion paper is the same one I have used as background material for other ambigrams you might find in this blog. Finally, the generic pagan prayer in the oracion is a quick English to Google Latin translation, which I found out, oddly translates back to English quite differently.

of things that go bump in the night (part2?)

Philippine folklore is a treasure trove of characters from the silly to the scary. Today, in line with the upcoming Halloween festivities, I present to you an ambigram of one of the country’s scariest. He’d probably rank somewhere between the Manananggal and the Tikbalang.

kapre72

The Kapre is a dark skinned, foul smelling, cigar chomping, acacia tree dweller. Depends on who you ask, this gigantic night creature could either be a malevolent creature bent on impregnating an unsuspecting virgin or just a recluse who, if smitten, will not stop until he gets his way- kinda like a male Alex Forrest ( Fatal Attraction) with supernatural/paranormal powers. He is a prominent fixture in horror flicks and camping stories.

In coming up with the design, I thought it’d be appropriate (and cool) to set the characters to mimic the lettering style of classic horror movies. That green glow just add to the eeriness.

So, I hope this inspired you to create something for your Halloween needs, and sorry I had been a bit busier than usual to write on this space. Just keep checking back in for more ambigram works. The next few issues will be worth it. For other stuff I’ve done, please check out http://imagefoundry.wix.com/imagefoundry. Thanks!

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…

Bathala
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.

Thor
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

a gallant stand!

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,

2013by7danadonajr

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…

gilas

and came up with…

2013 by danadonajr

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.

we mean business 2013 by danadonajr

Go Pilipinas! PUSO!