Upside-Down World, or Is It? Creating an Ambigram in Illustrator

An ambigram is text that squeezes "two different readings into the selfsame set of curves." That's a quote from the coiner of the term, Douglas Hofstader. You can tell he said it and not I, because he uses the word "selfsame," which even I—with my unhealthy love of pompous words—do not know how to use it in a sentence. The particular type of ambigram we'll consider today is one in which you turn the letters over, only to find that nothing has changed:

What with having a new pope and all, I got to thinking about Dan Brown's novel Angels and Demons and its tale of Vatican conspiracies. It was the first place I was delighted by ambigrams (if not by sophisticated word choice). And so, I thought I'd share this tutorial, first considered in video form in Deke's Techniques 069. By the way, under normal circumstances, 69 is an ambigram, but Deke likes to add a preceding zero, which unfortunately makes it 690 upside-down. I have no idea what that means. The conspiracy continues. 

Meanwhile, here's how to use the power of Illustrator's ability to create your upside-down mirror on-the-fly, in the service of creating a message so inscrutable that you can decipher it from multiple directions.  Read more » 

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The Secrets of Warichu: Great Mysterious Trick for Making Real Movie Poster Credits in Illustrator

Greetings, intrepid dekeReteers. In today's tutorial, I am going to reveal an ingenious use of a hidden Japanese typesetting secret, dug out of the secret caves of Illustrator preferences and put in the service of elegantly creating professional-style movie poster credits. 

Join me on this journey to the the Warichu feature, which is designed for stacking characters within a single line of type. Some time ago, a mysterious message officially known as Deke's Techniques 099 (a lost video that can only be found here under the code name Deke's Techniques 056: Creating Great Movie Poster Credits in Illustrator), revealed how Warichu allows you to gracefully stack two words one on top of another, perfectly setting the titles of all the people who helped make your imaginary opus possible.

Join me in these illustrated steps that reveal the awesome mystery: Read more » 

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Creating "Rounded Windows" Op Art from Scratch (and Math) in Photoshop

Greetings, my dekeTical Illusionists. Today, I wanted to share Deke's technique for creating a "rounded windows" style work of Op Art. Like the "Inflated Checkers" piece Deke created in Deke's Techniques 105: "Op Art Experiment 1a: Inflated Checkers in Photoshop," this project requires no stock art, no drawing capability, and no sample file to start with.

(Note if you prefer your instruction in video form, Deke covers this very project in the member exclusive episode Deke's Techniques 190: "Op art experiment 1b: Rounded Windows," which you can find here. Not a member? Go to to sign up for a free week trial.) 

Nope, armed with just Photoshop's Pattern Maker and some clever use of the Transform command, you can create this space-bending Bridget Riley-inspired piece of art by simply following these illustrated steps: Read more » 

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For Photoshop Shortcut Connoisseurs Everywhere: Deke's Custom dekeKeys for Photoshop CS6

Happy Friday, dekeItarians. Earlier in the week, I tried to convince the shortcut-averse among us---via charming anecdotes, empathy, and a smidgeon of mind control---to try out a few Photoshop shortcuts. But I know not everyone needs convincing with regard to the awesomeness of shortcuts.

For those of you who already love Photoshop shortcuts (for instance, Vectorgeek and SimonH74), today's post is about how to download, install, and enjoy Deke's custom shortcuts called dekeKeys for Photoshop CS6.And now for a message from our (my) sponsor, (aka The Deke Himself): 

The reason [I created custom keyboard shortcuts, aka dekeKeys]: You can work inside Photoshop more quickly and fluidly if you can access the most essential commands by pressing a few keys, as opposed to wasting precious (not to mention tedious) time hunting through menus. With dekeKeys, you can work as fast as you can think.

We'll make these keyboard shortcuts available for free to members of dekeOnline. (If you're not yet a member, it costs nothing and it's easy. Just try to follow past the jump and you'll be taken to the instructions.) For the rest of you, read on to find out how to get dekeKeys free, install them, and enjoy their efficiency engendering power:  Read more » 

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Another Path to Deke's Heart: Illustrator Fills and Strokes

For those of you who would love to have a nice new heart shape ready for your Valentine's Day projects, here are some lavishly step-by-step instructions for making the heart from yesterday's Deke's Techniques without those annoying lovebirds poking their perfectly round heads into my tutorial. 

Because frankly, Valentine's Day can be annoying enough without those smug, bald, fashion-challenged, yet otherwise expressionless creatures interfering. (Those two hand-holding automatons might be the universal symbol for Everything I Find to Be Wrong with Valentine's Day.) No, here are the results of my delightfully people-free expression of symmetry: 

Once again, there are no drawing skills required, so for those of you who feel about the pen tool the way I feel about Valentine's Day---i.e. something best avoided (which come to think of it is how I feel about the pen tool as well)---this is for you. Read on to see how it's done: Read more » 

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