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.
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.
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)