Quick and Dirty Ambigram DesignJun 24th, 2009 | By Editor | Category: Design Secrets
By Robert Maitland, author of “Ambigram Design“
It is often said that the reason rotational ambigrams work is because we concentrate on the tops of letters when we read. So when the bottoms of the letters are altered (or even removed entirely) they are still relatively readable. This is a property that even the beginning ambigrammist can take advantage of.
For those new to ambigram design, knowing where to begin can be tough, so the method below is probably the simplest way I can think of to make a basic, rough ambigram (without using automatic generators, of course!) Please note that this method doesn’t work with ALL words/phrases.
The following example is with the word ‘simple’:
Step 1: Start by making evenly spaced vertical lines. (Fig. 1)
Step 2: Use these lines as the basis of the letters. (Fig. 2) Try to include as much of the letters’ defining characteristics as possible, although with some letters (Q, L, etc) this is not possible. It would be a good idea to make several versions, using different cases and styles. After this step, the word should be relatively readable (a second opinion here would be very useful.)
Step 3: Take this, flip it over and add it to itself. (Fig. 3) Again, it should still be relatively readable.
Step 4: Now ‘finish off’ the letters. (Fig. 4) As you can see, the bottom of the ‘L’ has been added, and the letter shapes have been tweaked to be as clear as possible. This is the most critical step.
Again, this method isn’t foolproof, and shouldn’t be used as a crutch, but it can be very effective.
This ‘vertical line’ concept isn’t anything new- it’s the main reason the ‘gothic blackletter’ font seems to be the most effective font for ambigram design.
(Today’s article was written by Robert Maitland, who runs the fantastic “Ambigram Design” blog at ambigramdesign.wordpress.com. If you’d like to hear more from Robert in the future, please let him know in the comment section below.)