Tag Archive | symbiotogram


That took a minute! Welcome… and welcome back.

After Issue 35 came out, I was adamant to have the next installment of the Ambiverse Series featured on this issue — DC nerds like me will get it. I had a good enough lead to finish up on all the pieces I wanted to do and those I had been working on and was confident that I’d make the deadline.

It seemed that everything was going along well when after Issue 50, work stuff derailed that. For nearly a year, ambigramming took the back seat. By the time I was free to get back on the drawing board, “I was off my rhythm”, I think was my justification. While I did sketched a lot, I procrastinated more.

Then my computer suddenly could not read my backup drive where all my previous pieces were! Cold chill running down my spine at the thought of losing all my data, never mind recreating every other unpublished ambigram, was enough to break the spell…

When I finally got it running again, I placed all my eggs on other baskets — multiple baskets — and found myself hatching away with a few more designs that weren’t part of my original lineup. Definitely, one of the better thing to come out of a hair-pulling event like that.

So after a 19-month break, finally, it’s here! I present Ambiverse Volume 2.

First up is Cyborg. #CyborgAmbigram #ChainAmbigram #Anaglyph3D

This was the first piece I worked on, immediately after Volume 1. The ambigram was created digitally, from vector to raster straight from my mind’s eye. I had the specific  type thought of well ahead and I suspected that I’d likely have a workable solution if done as a chain ambigram. It was great seeing the y/b flip turn out to be as awesome as I thought it would.

I also imagined the final artwork as an anaglyph 3D hybrid where the ambigram would hover over the illustration, though with a bit of hesitation as the ambigram itself was already heavily stylized…

#danadonajr #CyborgAmbigram

… but whattheheck! You only regret chances you never took, so, here we have an addition to the meager ambiglyph collection I started back with Issue 04.

#danadonajr #CyborgAnaglyph

Next, Atom. #AtomAmbigram

While I thought it would work nicely alongside the #FlashAmbigram and #ArrowAmbigram, rounding up the CW lineup representing the namesake shows plus DC’sLoT, this did not make the cut on Issue 35. The original ambigram design I had for “Atom” was done Blackletter style, so a rework was necessary… and not having an illustration at hand was kind of a big set back as well.

#danadonajr #AtomAmbigram

Hawkman. #HawkmanAmbigram

This one employed a bit of a cheat by using the arm of the W (M’s leg) as the K’s stem. Though, on its own the ambigram looks great especially on black and white, only now do I see, that it’d have been better served had I made the glyph/characters a bit heavier… maybe I’ll make an update on the next volume.

#danadonajr #HawkmanAmbigram

Azrael. #AzraelAmbigram

I was planning on including a Batman ambigram here, but it was quite similar (sharp tips, edges and all) to the relatively newer #HawkmanAmbigram above except that one is a mirror type ambigram. So instead, I went on to create Denny O’neil’s assassin getting medieval on us with the ambigram rendered regally with nubuck/leather texture on good-ol’ Blackletter.

#danadonajr #AzraelAmbigram

Aquaman. #AquamanAmbigram #TotemAmbigram

THIS! …is my new favorite. Why?

Even before Issue 35, I had wrestled with this word/phrase. I’ve ripped voluminous pads of paper trying to solve “Aquaman” — see one of the older sketch I made below. Adhering to one of the tips I’ve listed on my essay in Issue 50, I was so fixated in coming up with what I narrowly thought of as a solution, working and reworking each glyph to “fit” my presupposed outcome, I had to walk away and was finally able to figure it out with a resounding “AHA!” just late last month! It’s ridiculously simple, one can argue that it isn’t even an ambigram.

And well, by virtue of patience I now have my very first #TotemAmbigram… always wanted to do one, never quite found the right mix, until this one swam up next to me and fixed its mucus-filled suckers on my face like Starro. As with the #CyborgAmbigram this too was straight up vector made.

Note: A Totem Ambigram is a vertically stacked or arranged mirror ambigram. A mirror ambigram, typically presented horizontally, is required to be symmetrical on either wing extending from it’s central Y-axis, making it readable on either the obverse or reverse side or when reflected on a mirror.

#danadonajr #AquamanAmbigram #TotemAmbigram

Shazam! #SHAZAMbigram

Having Aquaman and Shazam! come up fairly around the time their big screen debut is up is just a welcomed coincidence. I came up with the ambigram design around the same time as the #FlashAmbigram, but for reasons, my Captain Marvel illustration wasn’t to my liking. Or hehehe, let’s be honest, maybe I’m just really not that good with figure drawing… yeah, maybe that was it, so I just kept putting it off for later.

The featured illustration was finished fairly recent, just days after my external drive episode. I just sat down and scribbled away… took me three tries in two hours. I like his wide grin and arched brow.

#danadonajr #ShazamAmbigram

Hitman. #HitmanAmbigram

This was not supposed to be here, but I thoroughly enjoyed Tommy Monaghan‘s exploits so much I had to sneak him in. Thank you, Ennis/McCrea. I wish DC would bring him back… better yet put him up in the big screen. DC’s answer to Deadpool isn’t Deathstroke, it’s the friggin’ Hitman.

The larger ambigram was based on my “HUMAN” piece this time set to a Serpentine-adjacent typeface. They have fairly similar configuration. Originally, I created a series of scratches chalking up death counts to form the original ambigram design, which when incorporated with the hatch heavy illustration, don’t seem to pay off, so I decided to make the switch.

#danadonajr #HitmanAmbigram

And finally, Sandman/Morpheus. #SandmanMorpheusAmbigram #EndlessAmbigram #Symbiotogram

For a while now, I had been trying to finish my Endless Series (ambigrams based on Neil Gaiman’s opus) but I’m stuck with just these two plus Death

As this also was not supposed to a part of this series, I thought it’d be such a waste keeping it all tucked away for when I finally get to really be working on the others. Better get it out there for critique so that I could improve on it and maybe force me to work on the unfinished ones.

The idea was: when all the pieces are finished, the Endless Series could be put together like a puzzle to form a larger overarching image. So for the time being, let us enjoy the preview below.

#danadonajr #SandmanMorpheusAmbigram #Symbiotogram


The Ashcan.

Below are composites of the initial pencils, created at different points in time, for the pieces featured on this post.

Thanks for going through this far on this essay. See you next time.



hashtag suliktad

Matagal-tagal na rin akong gumagawa ng ambigrams.

At mula pa noon ay marami-rami na rin akong nabuong koleksyon ng ambigram mula sa mga pangalan at samu’t-saring “concept pieces” na ang iba ay trip lang gawin at ang iba naman ay isinali ko sa mga friendly competition sa international ambigram community.

Minsan ang mahirap sa pagbuo ng ambigram ay hindi iyong mismong paggawa nito. Mas mahirap iyong paano ka makakarating sa mga solusyon sa piyesa mo nang hindi kagaya (sadya man o hindi) sa mga dibuho ng ibang designers. Kadalasan mapapansin mo na lang ay may pagkakahawing ang solusyon kahit hindi ang aktwal na hugis ng isang piyesa. Kaya minsan halos parepareho ang solusyon kahit magkakaiba sa estilo ng “lettering”.

Bilang isang Pilipinong lumilikha ng isang sining na hindi likas o mula sa Pilipinas, nagsimula ako na halos puro english words ang gamit ko. At ganoon din naman ang karamihan ng nakilala kong ambigram designers na hindi native english speakers. Kaya’t simula ng gasinong nahasa na ako sa paglikha nito ay inunti-unti kong buuin ang koleksyon ko na puro may kinalaman sa sensibilidad at kulturang Pilipino. Hindi lamang para maiba sa karamihang ambigram designers kundi para rin mailahad ko ang mga katangian na kinamulatan ko.

Medyo madami na rin ang nagawa ko – iyung iba na-ipost ko na dito dati pa – pero mas marami ang hindi ko pa mahanapan ng solusyon at gan’un din kadami ang nasolusyonan ko na pero hindi ko matapos! Kasi ang pangit naman na ipakita ko puro sketches lang pero walang “final piece”… At plano ko na sana’y mabuo ko itong isang aklat at maipalimbag, sa Pilipinas. (Madali lang gawing ebook pero goal ko ay iyong pisikal na nahahawakan).

So, habang nagaabang ako sa pagkakataon na maisakatuparan ko iyon – dito ko muna unti-unting ilalathala.

Kasabay nito ang pagkabit ko ng isang bagong likhang salita sa lahat ng ambigram na nalikha ko na at lilikhain pa na may koneksyon sa kulturang Pilipino. Kung ang salitang ambigram ay binuo mula sa ambi (both=pareho) at gram (letter=titik), tatawagin ko ang lahat ng Pilipino ambigram words na SULIKTAD. Mula sa mga salitang: sulat at baliktad. Self explanatory na siguro po.

Bakit ko naman kailangan pang lumikha ng bagong salita para tukuyin ang mga Pilipino ambigrams ko?

Iyong totoo, wala akong diretsong sagot, liban sa: para magkaroon ng buhay at kapangyarihan ang anumang bagay kailangan nito ng isang pangalan. At siyempre mas gugustuhin ko na ang pangalang itatawag dito ay hindi salitang hiram – iyong sarili niya dapat. At dahil walang direkta at literal na translation ang salitang ambigram (as far as I know, hindi pa siya officially included sa mga dictionary as of this writing), dapat sigurong bigyan ko siya ng Pilipinong pangalan.

Sa huli, para mas gawing makabuluhan ang sanaysay na ito (o ang matiyagang pagbabasa ninyo sa mga pinagsasasabi ko), malugod ko pong ihahayag ang isa sa mga bago kong suliktad.

tiyaga/nilaga suliktad ambigram tiyaga/nilaga suliktad ambigram

Sa ating mga Pilipino madalas mabulalas ang sawikain na ito. May kinalaman ito sa pagpupursige at pagtitiyaga, lalo na sa pagharap sa hamon ng buhay. At hindi ko na siguro po kailangang maging Helen Vela, Eddie Ilarde o Dely Magpayo para himaymayin natin ang kahulugan nito. Alam kong alam na natin lahat ito. Nawa’y maging inspirasyon po sa ating lahat ito. Hayaan ninyo na kung mayroon man kayong mapulot na kung anuman sa pagsilip ninyo dito sa pahina ko ay itong paalala ng ating kulutura. Sabi nga sa Kalyeserye: “Hindi lahat nadadaan sa pagmamadali, lahat ay may dahilan… sa tamang panahon.”

Maraming Saalamat po!


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. 😉


When inverted…


And this, boys and girls, is the original idea/ sketch….
trust loveHave a nice weekend.


komiks: darna/narda

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.created by danadonajrLike 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.

The Symbiotogram

darna narda

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.

study1na versions

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 😉

So here we go… good luck and have a nice week end.

Dr. Jose Rizal

… was executed December 30th 1896. He was tried and found guilty for rebellion, sedition and conspiracy. His death fueled the flames of the Philippine revolution. And in the years that followed Rizal was first to have been recognized Philippine National Hero. In commemoration of his 114th year of martyrdom, let me share to you a couple of ambigrams.

The first is a symbiotogram of his two finished novels. Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

nolimetangere elfilibusterismo

This piece was submitted early this year for consideration on Ambigrams Revealed. Sadly, it didn’t make the cut.

Noli Me Tangere (Latin for Touch Me Not) was printed in Germany when Rizal was 26, supposedly the title was lifted from John 20: 13-17 which carried with it a symbolism of what Rizal speaks of in the book. Here Rizal pointed out the ills festering in Philippine society and exposing the injustice at the hands of the colonial government and the church through the eyes of young Crisostomo Ibarra, the book’s protagonist.

Its sequel, El Filibusterismo (Spanish for The Filibustering), printed in Belgium in 1891, offers a solution to the social cancers identified in Noli – a revolution. Thirteen or so years after the events in Noli, Fili follows the exploits of a shady character named Simoun who turns out to be an older Crisostomo Ibarra bent on vengeance.

After a series of studies I settled on this design. I love the r/lf and the i/s and t/s solutions. However, I do understand that  for unfamiliar eyes this symb will be hard to decipher. Props goes to Lei Arambala for providing me the inspiration to do this after I saw his Jose Rizal piece last year.

Next, Makamisa.


Unlike Rizal’s first two novels, which were originally in Spanish, this was to be written in Tagalog. And this is not a continuation of the first two novels. Makamisa literally means “after mass” as this satire follows the people of a fictitious town after its cura (priest) haphazardly stormed out of the church without completing the rites leaving the everyone in attendance- clueless. This ‘though was an unfinished novel. Rizal mentioned his intention of writing a third novel in Tagalog in his communications with friends citing he found it rather difficult to express the nuances of our culture in the vernacular. He even tried continuing and rewriting in Spanish. The manuscripts were “discovered” by historian Ambeth Ocampo.

Lastly, a rotational ambigram for the polymath hero.

joserizal ambigram

Originally this was at the center of the noli-fili symb, but I decided to take it out to make both ambigrams easier on the eyes.

Mabuhay si Lolo Pepe!