Wednesday, April 6, 2011


After watching Angels and Demons [1], I began to wonder if I could create ambigrams without too much trouble. An ambigram is a word written in such a way that if you rotate it 180°, it still reads the same thing. For example, the word pod is naturally an ambigram. So is the word mow (depending on the font face used). After doing some brief research, I concluded that the German font faces Fraktur and Textura [2] were most conducive to creating ambigrams, though eventually I expanded to include other fonts. I did the actual drawings in Inkscape. Once I had them drawn the way I wanted them, I exported them as .png files which I converted to animated .gif files using the GIMP.[3]

NOTE: to pause the animated .gif images, simply hit the ESC key on your keyboard. To resume, hit the refresh button on your browser.

I started with my first name. It was rather easy. The m and the w were already flipped versions of each other, so adapting them for an ambigram was obvious. The a and the e went through a few iterations, but generally weren't difficult, either. That left the two ts and the h. Most of the ways that I drew them resulted in the whole ambigram being almost unreadable. But I think I finally found an acceptable way to draw them.

Then I moved on to my last name.[4] If the m and w for my first name were obvious, using the os for each other was a no-brainer. That left cr and k for each other. That was quite difficult. Even now I'm not entirely satisfied with the result. The k looks kind of clunky. But I've run out of ideas, so it'll have to stay that way.

That done, I moved on to my wife's name. Either her name was just more conducive to making anagrams, or my skills were improving. The l and the e became one of the ns and the a became the other. I daresay this one also looks more elegant than the ambigram for my name.

But the fun needn't stop there. Since we like each other, I tried making an anagram that combines both our names.

I think I'd better explain this one. While an undergraduate I derived great pleasure from playing GoldenEye007 on the Nintendo64 with my roommates Michael and Ryan. GoldenEye007 is a first-person shooter. We'd run around the different levels killing each other with a variety of weapons. Ryan eventually resorted to saying, "Dirty Matt!" or "Dirty Mike!" whenever one of us scored a particularly underhanded kill. We returned the favor. Eventually this meme escaped from the Nintendo64. Whenever I ran into Ryan on campus, I'd shout, "Dirty Ryan!" at him.[5] This ambigram is in honor of that tradition.

This last one also bears some explanation. I have been collaborating with some of my friends from college in writing a fractured fairytale. This is a fairytale retold in a more modern setting, often with humorous effects.[6] Ours is called A Mangled Fairy Tale. It has a hard-boiled detective/film noir setting, so I chose to start with the Betty Noir font face.[7] Halfway through the story the main character goes through a mirror and then backtracks his activities of the previous two days. Thus I thought converting the title to an ambigram would be most appropriate. And it doesn't hurt that doing so makes the title look a little mangled…


[1] You can read my review of the movie here. The movie places a lot less emphasis on the ambigrams than the book did.

[2] These are often erroneously called Gothic font faces. It was this font face that Gutenberg used when publishing the Bible. For more info, see

[3] If you're unsure what Inkscape and GIMP are, see my post Raster Graphics and Vector Graphics.

[4] To find out possible meanings of my last name, see my post What's in a Name? 

[5] One of my favorite instances of this was when I saw Ryan in a computer lab at the south end of BYU campus (the now-razed Knight Mangum Building). He got the drop on me. We chatted for a few minutes, then he got on the computer next to me. Eventually he finished what he was doing, announced that he'd see me back at the apartment, and left. I waited a minute, then logged off of my computer. I gathered my stuff, ran over a block so that he couldn't see me, then ran all the way to our apartment. Once inside, I hid inside the closet and waited for him to arrive. The effect was glorious. Let me repeat: glorious. And just in case he's reading: Dirty Ryan!

[6] Fractured Fairy Tales originally got their start (or at least their name) from shorts that were featured on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. See Fairy Tales#Supporting features.

[7] Available for free here, for PC or Mac.


  1. I'm definitely impressed by this. Good work!

  2. Wow. Really, really impressive.

  3. I like them all. And the "A Mangled Fairytale" one I find very apt. I vote we leave it as the new story logo.