Ambigram Samples and Tips

If you'd like to try making your own ambigrams, I recommend that you start off with the "easier" words. These have letters of similar shapes, like the lower case b, d, p, and q; u and n, m and w. O, H, N, and X naturally still look the same up-side-down or in a mirror.

Start with a piece of plain unlined white paper and a pencil with a generous eraser. Write your word or phrase several different ways: right side up, up side down, forward, backward, horizontal, vertical, all capitals, all lower case, printing, cursive -- you get the picture. Look for similarities between letter shapes: upright lines, curves, circles, "tails," etc. Most of the time, I tend to start in the middle of the word, working my way toward both ends at the same time. Though at times I will start from both ends and work inward. Don't be corralled into conforming with the "rules" of letter shapes as we are accustomed to. Use your imagination, and Have Fun!
To get you started, here are some examples of how to make ambigrams:
Rotational Easy:
NOON; pod; MOW 
Some letters just naturally look like either themselves or another similar letter when inverted.

Bilateral Easy:


In this example, the line of symmetry runs vertically -- the left mirrors the right. Make the points of the "z" a little rounder and the curves of the "s" a little pointier.


In this example, the line of symmetry runs horizontally -- the top mirrors the bottom. Use lower case "L"s instead of upper case.


In this example, the line of symmetry can run in either direction: 1) As it appears here, printed, the top mirrors the bottom. 2) When written in cursive, extend a tail, or "serif," from the top of the "E" and shorten the upright of the "B," leaving open its bottom loop, and the left will mirror the right.
This one can also be turned into a Rotational Ambigram by changing the openings in the loops against the upright of "B" and extending a tail, or "serif," from one or more open ends of a cursive "E."

Rotational Intermediate:
The lower case "a" that has a "tail" over its top resembles an inverted lower case "e". Extend the length of the "l" to match the lower end of the "p."

Bring the "are" upward to half way between the tops and bottoms of "K" and "N." Give the printed lower case "r" a little tail off the left side of the bottom and it will look the same inverted. Adjust the strokes of the capital letters "K" and "N" so they will resemble each other's inverted position.

Add a tail to the top of the "A," put a cross-bar into the "y," and evenly round out all the strokes of a cursive "m" so that there are no sharp points.
Bilateral Intermediate:


Make the "B" look like a squarish number "8." Open the "o" at the right and give it a loop inside the top. Round out the upper loop of the "e." Curl the top left of the "T" over the "r". Break the "R" into pieces so it will mirror the combination of "rT."

Rotational Challenging:
"design interviews" .com -- A Forum on Web Design and Internet. See their interview with ambigram artist John Langdon. After reading the last couple of sentences in the interview, I took on the challenge and came up with this design. I am submitting this in their comments section below the interview. I hope they like it!
In building this ambigram I had to overlap the rotation point inside of one of the two words instead of using the natural break between them. I also had to break apart a lot of the letters into smaller pieces and mash them back together to create composites that the eye will put together as different whole letters when seen from a different viewpoint. (Note: I have used both of these techniques in drawing the letters for almost all of the greeting cards and name art that is made of more than one word.) The first example of this is the "es" in "design: turn these over in close proximity to each other and they resemble a "w." The really tricky part was forming the "gn" of "design" from "rvi" of "interviews." If you look closely, you will see that the "old-style g" is composed of two pieces -- the "i" with a bubble-dot and half of the "v" -- and the "n" is composed of two pieces -- the other half of the "v" and the "r" -- and it has a little bit of a tail due to the upstroke at the beginning of the "r." In looking back at this and the dozens of other ambigrams that I have drawn, I just recognized that this is the first ambigram where the "old-style g" was essential to making the design work. Note that its "tail" is anchored to its bottom left, whereas our "modern g" has its "tail" anchored to its bottom right. This allowed me to use the "bubble" at the bottom left of the "g" as the dot over the "i." If I had tried to use the curled tail at the bottom right of a modern "g," then the "v" would have had an odd "appendage" at its upper right and the "i" may have ended up dotless.

Bilateral Challenging:


This was a tough one, but I finally made it work: Make the "o" the focal center. Work a cursive "arr" with a somewhat open-topped "a" that doesn't reach as low as the bottom of the "rr" to mirror the shape of a cursive "w" with somewhat rounded tops (instead of points) and a loop shaped tail. It helps to keep the descending stroke of the second "r" up higher and connect both the "arr" grouping and the "w" to the upper part of the "o" in cursive style. Flatten the curves at the right side of the "S" and almost close the top and bottom curves. Open the "B" at the intervals that mirror the "S."

Unless otherwise noted, all images and artwork referenced on this site are Copyright © 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Rebecca May.