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June 27 2009

Homero (Larrain) rotating into 'one way'. His 'ambigrama' blogpage link under AmbigramMates in sidebar.

Ambigrama magnolia esther


...Dedicado a Magnolia Esther, una Artista Natural, a la que he perdido la pista, espero que algún día vuelva a aparecer por aquí y recoja este ambigrama de su nombre...

R.I.P.

June 26 2009

In Memoriam

The first thing I heard today when my alarm clock radio woke me up was that legendary pop star Michael Jackson had passed away yesterday. It came as a bit of a shock—not because I'm a great fan of him, but to hear the news first thing in the morning while still half asleep made it somewhat surreal. Naturally it has been the number one item on the news today. I'll just join in with this special ambigram in memory of the famous artist that was Michael Jackson, the King of Pop.

Michael Jackson, King of Pop Michael Jackson, King of Pop, GIMP, June 2009

De vuelta al blog...

Después de 5 meses sin publicar absolutamente nada por estar en ese periodo en el que las musas pasan absolutamente de ti (mi) y tras la insistencia de Tomás para que volviera a retomar los ambigramas, me fui haciendo a la idea de volver a intentarlo, pero no se me ocurría ninguna palabra (lo dicho, las musas se han ido de vacaciones a Honolulú por lo menos con un billete sin retorno), hasta que recibí un comentario de una paisana mía, Inma, de Cádiz, que me escribía desde su blog: El blog de Clamir, donde nos presenta sus originales creaciones de crochet y otros tipos de manualidades.

después de su afectuoso mensaje, me dije: PARA ELLA el siguiente ambigrama, estará dedicado a mi vecina gaditana, y tras un pequeño empujón de Tomás, me puse manos a la obra y aquí está el resultado: tres ambigramas diferentes que no sé yo si se leen con claridad. Espero que te gusten, Inma.

En el primero se lee INMA por un lado y al girarlo cambia a CLAMIR. La animación es de Tomás, que me tiene muy mal acostumbrada, y me anima todo lo que le pido.
 Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Otro más, ¿a que es una chulada la animación?. En estos se lee CLAMIR en las dos direcciones:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Y otros dos modelos, estos ya estáticos:


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

June 24 2009

Ambigram Font

UPDATE: See this post to download the now available font file.

Here I present the first version of my ambigram font. Except I cannot provide actual font files yet, just images for now. For license information read end of post.

Ambigram Font Ambigram Font, GIMP, June 2009

This font allows for the creation of ambigrams for any word. It produces horizontal mirror ambigrams, also called lake reflection ambigrams, because if one were to hold the ambigram over a lake, it would be also readable in the reflection of the water.

A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog Sample text

The lake reflection symmetry is rarely used for ambigrams and many I have seen are actually symbiotograms. Why is it so ill represented? It may be because it is regarded as somewhat trivial, which I admit it is. Surely if you have a full set of letters with a horizontal symmetry axis, turning any word into an ambigram becomes a piece of cake. The lake symmetry seems in fact the only one feasible for an ambigram font. However, as far as I know nobody ever attempted to create a full character set. Hence I recently decided it was about time that changed.

I first started creating the capitals, since many of those naturally have a horizontal symmetry axis. That does not mean they were all easy. For the F and N I had to overhaul my initial designs entirely, replacing them with better solutions. The L initially looked just like an E with its middle horizontal stroke missing—somehow with the more curving horizontals it looks more natural. The S seemed impossible at first glance, but luckily I managed to trick my way out of it. I had to make sure the M and W were distinct enough, since they tend to transform into each other when mirrored. And then there were the horrible U, V and Z, which required the greatest sacrifices. The V ended up tilted to the right with one stroke omitted, for the Z I had to resort to an old fashioned letter form and the U was just plain mean to me.

Initially I did not plan doing the lowercase letters, but they seemed like a nice bonus. They had their own problems though. Most prominent was the trouble with ascenders and descenders, since the symmetry dictated that they would be indistinguishable from each other. This especially was dramatic for the b, p, d and q, which are undoubtedly the weakest part of the font. I actually started out with the d and q switched, but decided they both fit in better with the other's role.

Finally I also added the ciphers and some punctuation. Maybe more special characters will be added in the future. If you have any comments on the existing characters or ideas for improving them, I'll gladly try and modify them a bit more.

That only leaves one problem. I have had some trouble finding any decent programs for turning the images into an actual font file. If anyone can point out one such program—preferably freeware/open source—I would be very grateful. It would either have to take images or svg-files as input, producing a common font format like TrueType or OpenType.

License

Using this font in other works would violate the 'No Derivatives' part from the Creative Commons License the image is released under, since you would have to extract letters from the image and thereby change its original form. That is not very practical for a font, so I hope to improve the license as soon as possible. However, I will first try to find a more practical format for distributing this font. Until then you may only reproduce the image 'as is' under the restrictions of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 License.

Going back to ambigram basics: antonyms. Hope it reads well enough.

June 23 2009

How to Make Ambigrams Jutt Style

This is an article on how I go about creating my ambigrams. This is not a definite guide on how one should approach ambigram artwork. Whatever I mention here works for me, but I figure it can be helpful to others as well. I will illustrate this article with images from the process behind one of my recent ambigrams.

Step 1 – Inspiration

The first step is finding a suitable word for turning into an ambigram. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but not every word you think of can be turned into an ambigram easily. It helps to look for features that are easily translated to an ambigram, e.g. beginning and ending letters which are natural inversions of each other. Here I will show the creation of an ambigram based on the following logo.

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst logo Uru: Ages Beyond Myst logo, © Cyan Worlds

'Uru: Ages Beyond Myst', which is by the way a favorite computer game of mine, would be an excellent candidate to be turned into a mirror ambigram. The symmetrically placed u's of 'Uru' would cooperate very well. Also the words 'Ages' and 'Myst' are of equal length and the b and d from beyond are a natural mirror pair. These observations indicate that the ambigram is well worth trying.

Step 2 – Doodles and Basic Sketches

I start with small doodles to get a basic idea how I want to convert the letter forms into each other. I usually use small 9×9 cm paper, of which I have a large stack at hand.

Small doodles Small doodles

When I have figured out my approach for the ambigram, I often switch to A4 size to work a bit on the style of the ambigram and the individual letter forms.

More sketches More sketches

Step 3 – Detailed Sketch

Once I have figured out the exact form and style of the ambigram it is time to make detailed sketches, which will be the reference I work from when making a digital version. For this I use A4 sized 5 mm grid paper, allowing me to easily measure stroke widths and lengths and consistently copy recurring parts between letters. The vertical strokes usually have an integer width in units and if the letters are slightly slanted, the slope is set to an integer ratio for easy construction. I do not use ruler or compass—I trust my ability to draw decent freehand straight lines and circles and they would not be of much help with more complex curves anyway.

Detailed sketch Detailed sketch

Step 4 – Digitalizing

The final version of the ambigram, which is all digital work, will be done entirely with GIMP. This may sound like a somewhat odd choice for a program for making typographic art—a vector program would be a likelier choice. GIMP however also has vector functionality in the form of paths. I find those very straightforward to manipulate to the point that I can work more efficiently with paths in GIMP than with other vector programs. Also since GIMP combines both vector and pixel manipulations in one program, I find it the ideal platform for making ambigrams.

I start with creating a checkerboard grid in the bottom layer. Then I will add a white layer on top set to multiply, opacity at 50%, where I will draw the actual letter forms. With this setup I can start creating the letters by drawing their outlines or strokes with paths. I usually need a whole lot of guidelines to ensure the paths are properly aligned on the grid.

My GIMP setup My GIMP setup showing paths outlining a letter form.

Finished paths are easily filled in with black on the drawing layer. If possible I sometimes construct letters with basic rectangular and elliptical selections, bypassing the path tool altogether. Copy-pasting between letters to keep consistency is also common. I will repeat the process until half of the ambigram is done—the other half will of course be copied from it.

I copy the finished half to a new image, where I combine it into the full ambigram. I also adjust the margins and make sure the letters are spaced properly. Below you can see the completed ambigram.

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, GIMP, June 2009

Step 5 – Fun with GIMP (optional)

For this particular ambigram I decided to go one step further and try to mimic the look of the original logo. When you are having fun with GIMP there is no telling how that is going to work out. The result may very well differ quite a bit from what you had in mind. Basically this is just being clever with all sorts of filters. I am not going into detail here, but will just show the final image.

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst (enhanced) Uru: Ages Beyond Myst (enhanced), GIMP, June 2009

June 22 2009

June 24 2009

Charles Darwin ambigram

Going back to ambigram basics: antonyms. Hope it reads well enough.

June 23 2009

How to Make Ambigrams Jutt Style

This is an article on how I go about creating my ambigrams. This is not a definite guide on how one should approach ambigram artwork. Whatever I mention here works for me, but I figure it can be helpful to others as well. I will illustrate this article with images from the process behind one of my recent ambigrams.

Step 1 – Inspiration

The first step is finding a suitable word for turning into an ambigram. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but not every word you think of can be turned into an ambigram easily. It helps to look for features that are easily translated to an ambigram, e.g. beginning and ending letters which are natural inversions of each other. Here I will show the creation of an ambigram based on the following logo.

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst logo Uru: Ages Beyond Myst logo, © Cyan Worlds

'Uru: Ages Beyond Myst', which is by the way a favorite computer game of mine, would be an excellent candidate to be turned into a mirror ambigram. The symmetrically placed u's of 'Uru' would cooperate very well. Also the words 'Ages' and 'Myst' are of equal length and the b and d from beyond are a natural mirror pair. These observations indicate that the ambigram is well worth trying.

Step 2 – Doodles and Basic Sketches

I start with small doodles to get a basic idea how I want to convert the letter forms into each other. I usually use small 9×9 cm paper, of which I have a large stack at hand.

Small doodles Small doodles

When I have figured out my approach for the ambigram, I often switch to A4 size to work a bit on the style of the ambigram and the individual letter forms.

More sketches More sketches

Step 3 – Detailed Sketch

Once I have figured out the exact form and style of the ambigram it is time to make detailed sketches, which will be the reference I work from when making a digital version. For this I use A4 sized 5 mm grid paper, allowing me to easily measure stroke widths and lengths and consistently copy recurring parts between letters. The vertical strokes usually have an integer width in units and if the letters are slightly slanted, the slope is set to an integer ratio for easy construction. I do not use ruler or compass—I trust my ability to draw decent freehand straight lines and circles and they would not be of much help with more complex curves anyway.

Detailed sketch Detailed sketch

Step 4 – Digitalizing

The final version of the ambigram, which is all digital work, will be done entirely with GIMP. This may sound like a somewhat odd choice for a program for making typographic art—a vector program would be a likelier choice. GIMP however also has vector functionality in the form of paths. I find those very straightforward to manipulate to the point that I can work more efficiently with paths in GIMP than with other vector programs. Also since GIMP combines both vector and pixel manipulations in one program, I find it the ideal platform for making ambigrams.

I start with creating a checkerboard grid in the bottom layer. Then I will add a white layer on top set to multiply, opacity at 50%, where I will draw the actual letter forms. With this setup I can start creating the letters by drawing their outlines or strokes with paths. I usually need a whole lot of guidelines to ensure the paths are properly aligned on the grid.

My GIMP setup My GIMP setup showing paths outlining a letter form.

Finished paths are easily filled in with black on the drawing layer. If possible I sometimes construct letters with basic rectangular and elliptical selections, bypassing the path tool altogether. Copy-pasting between letters to keep consistency is also common. I will repeat the process until half of the ambigram is done—the other half will of course be copied from it.

I copy the finished half to a new image, where I combine it into the full ambigram. I also adjust the margins and make sure the letters are spaced properly. Below you can see the completed ambigram.

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, GIMP, June 2009

Step 5 – Fun with GIMP (optional)

For this particular ambigram I decided to go one step further and try to mimic the look of the original logo. When you are having fun with GIMP there is no telling how that is going to work out. The result may very well differ quite a bit from what you had in mind. Basically this is just being clever with all sorts of filters. I am not going into detail here, but will just show the final image.

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst (enhanced) Uru: Ages Beyond Myst (enhanced), GIMP, June 2009

June 22 2009

"Carpe Diem" Ambigram
A custom ambigram of the words "Carpe Diem", created for a tattoo design. The words read the same when flipped upside down. More information can be found in my profile.
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