Ambigram project
Samples of student work


Introduction
An ambigram is a word image that can be read the same right side up as upside down or as a left and right mirror image. It can be of the same word both ways or one word one way and another word the other way. Samples of ambigrams can be seen in the web resources listed below.

Procedure
Review the resources below to get a better idea of what ambigrams are and how to create them.
Study the letters in your name (full name or part of your name) and develop an ambigram that clearly communicates and cleverly acknowledges its letterform relationships. If you have an obscure or hard-to-guess name, you may substitute other words (with instructor approval). Explore and analyze thoroughly each letter: what defines it and what makes it unique.
Sketch thumbnails. See the letters as shapes and discover ways they can communicate in two orientation directions. Peruse the resources listed below. Render letters in various type families and cases. Turn the paper over to see what elements can be used to form other letters. Some letter pairs are automatic ambigrams: a & e, b & q, d & p, A & V, M & W; while some letters read both ways: H, I, O, S, X. Avoid these as they may not convey enough exploration and cleverness.
Test the ambigram by showing it to strangers (your friends are too biased) and listening. Some confusion in the viewer’s mind is okay if the vast majority of test subjects conclude the correct name. Show it to more people. And yet even more. This project will be evaluated on two main factors: comprehension by people who don't know the name being communicated and the clever interplay of letterforms.
Refine to the centimeter all graphic elements: line ends, line weights, curve radii, baselines, etc. A successful ambigram is a ‘game of inches’.
Design decisions are compromises: seek efficient comprehension in both directions. Conclude all decisions at the tight rough stage.
Ink the final version using a straightedge and templates (or use a computer). It may help to ink it large and reduce it on a copy machine or computer. Trim and turn in that copy in a well-designed composition.

Resources
Wikipedia.
John Langdon’s ambigram gallery.
Advice on learning to create ambigrams, from John Langdon.
Inversions, by Scott Kim.
Ambigrams by nagfa.

Purpose
• Enhance creative problem solving skills.
• Explore letterform relationships: see letterforms as shapes to be manipulated and abused.
• Appreciate the complexity of alphabet letterforms.
• Determine appropriate and pleasing layout compositions.
• Practice inking letters.
• Provide a portfolio piece.

Specs
• Name/word must contain at least 7 letters
• Size of ambigram: reasonable
• Color of ambigram: black
• Color of background: white
• Paper size and color: open
• Layout composition: open

Evaluation
1. Comprehension by people who don't know the name being communicated.
2. Clever interplay of letterforms.

• Active participation in critiques: proper grammar and vocabulary; assertive, positive, confident, and enthusiastic.
• All work turned in on time.
Concept and Communication
• Thorough exploration of options.
• Legible, readable, and understandable.
• Intriguing and clever interplay of letterforms and typographic image.
• Appropriate letter and word spacing.
• Intelligent use of design principles.
Execution
• Specs followed precisely.
• Neat inking: crisp, smooth, consistent.
• Pleasing composition of mark on paper.
• Neat clean presentation.
• Appropriate materials and size.

Samples of student work
These are some of the pieces students in Graphic Design 1 completed for this project. Each was hand-inked - the computer was not allowed (the emphasis was on thinking, creativity, and problem solving - the computer becomes a limiting crutch at that early stage). Some are left/right mirrorgrams, some are rotational, some form a different word when inverted. Not all the above project specs applied in each of the semesters represented below. Each piece is owned by the student designer. No reproduction without permission. Thanks.
Click here for the deciphered words/names.


















































































































Click here for the deciphered words/names.

www.jamesrobertwatson.com/ambigram.html