Tag Archive | rotational ambigrams


ambigram by daIt has taken me a while to finish this post as I wasn’t quite satisfied with the design prior to the one above. The idea popped into my head after I did Bian Lian* for Dan Chan a while back but the  inspiration for making this ambigram (series) came to me just a few months after Cirque performed in Manila which, as expected, I did not get to see it. 😦
*Bian Lian is a traditional Chinese face changing act Dan Chan incorporates in his magic show in San Francisco. A design challenge was held over at ambigram.com for a logo for the act (among others) and I sent in two designs for this category which merited both the second and third prizes.

In designing the poster I wanted the it to have a steampunk-ish feel.. dated… vintage. You will notice I used the same paper texture as with the 1521 ambigram design (see post). All the design element were traced, vectorized then imported to Photoshop for this final look.

A curious thing… while I was tracing the initial sketch, I found out that “circus” may possibly be flipped four ways (in one ambigram): rotational then reflective. A very different style to the one above. I have a very rough sketch and someday I might just get the inspiration I needed to solve the kinks I see in it.

ambigram by danadonajr

Next we have “karnabal”. I will admit, this version may be quite hard to read with all those curly lines at the midsection. But I love it! The font style and the curls remind me of the deformed grill bars the signages of local carnival rides. And yes, karnabal is Filipino for carnival or carnivale. This design is all vector.


Last but not the least, here’s Fiesta, all vector work. Actually there’s a blooper here. I was supposed to make “Perya”, Filipino for Fair (or carnival) as I was going for a set of words with similar denotation. But because the summer months of March, April, and May is fiesta season… that’s what my brain kept registering: Fiesta… Fiesta… Fiesta… so there. However, it’s usually during fiesta season that the karnabals and peryas come out (we don’t have a circus in the American and European context), so I think Fiesta still fall in the same breadth.

Filipinos love social occasions and gatherings even before the Spaniards came. This apparently was so obvious that they used it as a means to spread Catholicism. Yup! we love fiestas… an official excuse to binge on food, alcohol, gambling, and most specially: singing and partying!

Hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I enjoyed doing them.  See you next week!


ilustrado ambigram 150My very own Illuminati ambigram.

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.

created by danadonajr 2013

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.

first ilustrado
The red design is yucky, right? So I guess until I find a “better” solution for this word/phrase, I’m sticking with the design on top.
That’s all for today, next week: a very jolly ambigram!