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.
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...
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.After 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.
The 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.
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.
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!
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!
This post has been in the drafts section of this blog for quite some time now, and I guess it’s about time it’s been published as I have already preempted its “premiere” by posting this (<click) on my facebook account. That link is to my rarely used youtube channel.
I created this symbiotogram for shirt design contest with the theme “In Love We Trust”. The full design entry did not get anywhere but I had a blast creating this one. You see, more often than not i tend to create “overly thematic” ambigrams— okay… “flashy” might just be as fitting — but this one has very minimal (read: unnecessary) “flourishes” as other ambigrammists call them. I did not even add any effects to it! (In truth I did versions of this ambigrams with effect but I just couldn’t make it work.) I guess sometime you just have to leave it be. 😉
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.