posted Mar 3, 2010, 5:31 PM by Sherwin Tolentino   [ updated Mar 3, 2010, 8:09 PM ]
CATEGORY: Digital Typography
Images: Sample Ambigrams that can be found in Google Images search results. References to these are listed below1
What is an ambigram? According to Wikipedia, an ambigram is a typographical design or artform that may be read as one or more words not only in its form as presented, but also from another viewpoint, direction, or orientation2. There are many types of ambigram, but the most common that you can probably find are the rotational and mirror-image, just like in the sample images presented above.
Creating an ambigram is an art in itself. It intensely challenges your creativity — one is needed to create glyphs for each letter that will satisfy the ambigram type and maintain the words still as readable as possible, because obviously, not all the typical glyphs in our universal character sets symmetrically compliments itself or other glyphs. Sounds kind of limiting? But the same set of restrictions also offers freedom; that the artist is not anymore restricted to the use of common typefaces or styles out there. See? Even the art itself is "ambigramic".
But I am not featuring the ambigram art itself here. What I would like to feature are the Ambigram Generators out there as a multimedia application. And the best that I found so far is FlipScript's Ambigram Generator3.
Generating an ambigram here is so simple. You just need to type in the word (or words. It  allows upto two words), click on a button, and — if there's an available transformation — you have an ambigram.
It even allows you to choose between two styles: Old English and Script.
What amazes me is how the algorithm of this application recognizes and transforms each letter into a rotational ambigram. It even shows you a rotating image to prove that the ambigram works.
But of course the generator has some limitations as well:
  • It only generates rotational ambigram.
  • You are limited to Old English and Script styles only.
  • You are limited to only two words.
  • You don't always get what you want. Say in the above image wherein I typed in "apple" and "orange", I wanted it to be in just 1 word, like in "life" and "death", where you can read "life" and then "death" when you rotate. But in the case of "apple" and "orange", the generator displayed two ambigrams.
  • The ambigram generated is not free. You'll have to buy the ambigram if you want to use it. :)
  • There are also words that the generator can't transform.
 But hey! Even with all these limitations, I'd have to admit that the generator does a good job. So who am I to complain? :)

1Sample Ambigram Images:
  1. Funny Ambigram:
  2. Death Life:
  3. Fantasy:
  4. Smile: by KRFTRZX (
  5. Kermit The Frog:
2Ambigrams in Wikipedia:
3 FlipScript's Ambigram Generator: