Ambigrams

Today’s Creation is an ambigram for NaCreSoMo. I had a friend back in high school who was obsessed with these for a month or two; he was and probably still is much better than I am today. But it’s pretty simple to make an ambigram yourself, at least in theory.

As you can see, I start by writing the word right-side-up, then upside-down right below it. Then I go letter by letter and try to fit the two together, looking for common shapes. Sometimes it’s a wash—two letters might just not be compatible. In this case, the R/S nearly ruined the whole idea, but I think it worked out okay. (On the side you can see me seeing if the mixed-case version would work better, but usually it’s better to stick to all-uppercase or all-lowercase.)

Not all ambigrams are symmetrical; some feature one word “on top” and another “below”. But that’s actually obvious from the existence of these “double-sided” ambigrams; do you see why?

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Consider a popular one: “LOVE/HATE”. In this case, you could do a normal rotational ambigram for “LOVE HATE”, and then just take the first half. In fact, in order to prove that this really would be the same right-side-up and upside-down, I made this ambigram by flipping the first half around. You can go ahead and download that image and rotate it in your favorite image viewer, and you’ll see that I didn’t optimize it for right-side-up or upside-down.

There are a lot of great ambigrams out there, not all of them using rotational symmetry (or even just two dimensions!), but one of my favorites is the old logo of Sun Microsystems:

I guess this post is in the same family as Max’s “Writing Inverse”. Letters are cool!

Your trivia for the day: the word “font” comes from the same root as “foundry”, since a “font” was a particular set of metal type letters for use on a printing press. To this day organizations that create fonts are known as “foundries”.

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