The Ambigram Generator

How hard can it be to create an ambigram?

I mean, you can just type in two words at Flipscript.com, and click the “flip” button, right?

Jeez. Its a piece of cake!

Well, if only it were that easy.

When you type in those two words, and click the “flip” button, that’s when the Glyphusion ambigram generator gets to work. The ambigram generator isn’t a simple letter inversion tool that displays graphics. It’s creating ambigrams just like a human would.

A very talented human.

First, the ambigram generator analyzes the letters in your word to formulate it’s best plan.  Just like a human would do.  You may not realize the challenge when you type in two words, but the generator has no idea how to even start.

For example, let’s look at the ambigram on the FlipScript home page.  It says my name (Mark) when upright and my wife’s name (Laurie) when upside down.

Mark / Laurie ambigram

Mark / Laurie ambigram

So, you request an ambigram of “Mark” and “Laurie”.  The ambigram generator gets the request and starts to create your design…

Let’s see, the first letter is an “M”, and when it flips over, it becomes an “E”.

…or it might flip over to become an “IE”.

…or it might flip over to become an “RIE” (and it does)

In fact, ALL of those glyphs are possible, and all exist in the database!

However, the generator doesn’t even know that the first letter of the FIRST word was an “M”.  It could have been an “MA”, or an “MAR”, with the same possibility lists existing for the inversions.

So, we have THREE possibilities for just the first glyph, if we make the assumption that it’s only one letter!  Great.  Now what.

Well, let’s move on to the next letter.  Of course, it depends on the first letter!  If the first letter was an “M” to “E”, the second letter would be an “A” to “I”.

…Or an “A” to “IE”, or an “AR” to “IE”, or an “AR” to “RIE”.  Or even an “ARK” to “AURIE”!

Yes, the database has some huge glyphs in it!

Anyway, back to the path for this particular solution.  The first letter of the “best” design is an “M” to “RIE” (we’ll get to the “best” solution in a moment).  So, let’s just follow up on that design.

So, the second letter must be an “A” to a “U”.

…and it is.

Whew.

And the third letter must be an “R” to a “A”, and the last letter must be a “K” to an “L”!

Not quite.  While the “R” to “A” is available, and looks great, that would leave the “K” and “L” to match up, which isn’t going to produce the best design.  There I go with that “best” design again.

…and matching up the “R” to the “LA” would leave a dangling “K” with no place to go.

Same with the “RK” to “L” (are you following this?).

So, the last glyph is an “RK” to “LA”.  A two-to-two letter glyph.

The final solution becomes a 3-to-1 glyph (M/RIE), a 1-to-1 glyph (A/U) and a 2-to-2 glyph (RK/LA).

But what about those other paths that were also producing valid designs?  The ones that started with “M/E” and “M/IE”?  Well, they could have very well have produced finished designs.  Yes, the ambigram generator will often find multiple solutions for a given word pair.

So, then it needs to “rank” all of the valid solutions and present the one that is “best”.  I won’t even attempt to describe that, since the ranking algorithm could be a whole computer science class in itself!

So, when you type in two words into the FlipScript ambigram generator, stop for a moment and think about how difficult it is to find the set of glyphs that can be combined to create the design you requested.

It might be easy for you… but that just means it’s pretty sophisticated behind the scenes.


(read more to find out how the ambigram generator draws)

18 Comments

  1. 1

    [...] The Ambigram Generator [...]

  2. 2

    Hello Mark,
    Thanks for taking a look at my blog! I read your article and it’s a very interesting mathematical approach, one that I hadn’t thought of. But math has never been my strong suit!

    Can you shoot me an email to npgraphicdesign@yahoo.com or ambiblog@gmail.com? I would like to co-write an article with you.

    Thanks!
    Nikita

  3. 3
    admin Says:

    Hi Nikita,

    Thanks for posting on the blog. I’m glad we were able to connect to make those articles happen!

  4. 4
    Rhonda Says:

    I really like this concept but do not like the old english style font. Do you know where I can find a generator that will create the names of my choice, in the font of my choice?

  5. 5
    admin Says:

    Hi Rhonda,

    The Glyphusion generator mentioned in this article (that powers the FlipScript site) is actually the only ambigram generator that exists anywhere.

    I know, since I looked very hard for one before deciding to take a year to write it.

    However, if you keep an eye on this technology as it develops, you may be pleasantly surprised to see what comes out of it. Your wish to use “names of your choice, in the font of your choice” may just come true.

    :-)

  6. 6

    i really like this and i want more

  7. 7

    hey kids i lwant this to be gd please get this andgram for me santa santa

  8. 8
    kishore Says:

    hey mark
    amazing programme….or mind boggling wuld be the word.
    Im an amateur ambigram artist and i truly respect and understand what ur talkin about here….again hats off…!!!

  9. 9
    Eduardo Says:

    Oi meu nome é Eduardo, sou brasileiro e há pouco tempo fiquei sabendo sobre a técnica ambigrama, achei muito interessante e bacana. Gostaria que vc me enviasse um com o meu nome, ficaria muito feliz e agradecido, pois já tentei fazer um mas não obtive sucesso.

    Hi my name is Eduardo, I’m Brazilian and not long ago I learned about the technique ambigrama, I found very interesting and cool. I wish you send me one with my name, I would be very happy and grateful, because I tried to do one but not got success.

  10. 10
    Tahira Says:

    Hi Mark,
    Awesome site! I have a question though. It does not work for some names. I wanted to see a sample of an ambigram with my name and another name, and unfortunately it says no design is possible…. Is there another way to get a sample from you? Thanks in advance.

  11. 11
    Ciechano Says:

    CIECHANO

  12. 12
    kaushik Says:

    Hey Mark! Awesome article. I am interested in this topic from quite few days. art. I would like to know more about ranking algorithms. Can you tell me where I can get more info regarding this? Awaiting your response.

    Thanks!.
    Kaushik

  13. 13
    dave Says:

    “Its creating ambigrams just like a human would”
    I have never seen a computer sit down with a pen, analyse, write, rub, rethink, and repeat until the work is done. A computer does not, and cannot, do anything just like a computer does. Sorry but you are putting computers on a pedestal … they are pieces of plastic, silicon, steel, and only ‘recognise’ two things … 0 and 1. Inanimate objects with 0 intellectual ability :)

  14. 14
    flag Says:

    i made something myself but needs improvements but i can tell you that its something…i wrote a in-laws name MAYA if you read it in the mirror youll read ISABELLA and then SAM LIM her husbands name can be read as EDWARD and MAY MARBELLA can stil be read the AS MAY MARBELLA in the MIRROR hope you can lead your own site

  15. 15

    Hi Tahira – If you’re still reading, just send us an email with the words or names and we’ll see if it can be worked out. Click the “contact us” link at FlipScript.com

    Kaushik – Similar response for you. Send us an email and we can talk more about the technology, although I’m not sure what use it will be since it was very specifically created for this incredibly narrow purpose.

    Dave – I respectfully disagree with your opinion, and I think you might change your mind if you ever saw the technology in action.

  16. 16
    umar yasin Says:

    plz plz plz…make an ambigram of my name Umar Yasin… They should be seperate two words..and looke samme…i’ll be very greatful…plz. Mail me on umaryasin33@yahoo.in

  17. 17
    chow Says:

    hi, pls make me an ambigram of my name chow and my wife badet, pls help me..tnx!!!

  18. 18
    Chad Says:

    Because accessing a limitless traffic source…

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