Deke’s Techniques 069: Creating an Ambigram in Illustrator

069 Creating an ambigram in Illustrator

This week marks my favorite Deke’s Techniques so far, in which I show you how to create an ambigram, which is a word that reads the same whether the page is right-side up or upside-down. Here’s what we’re about to make:

Adobe Illustrator ambigram demonstration

Don’t you just love animated GIFs that play forever and ever? Me neither, but I figured it was important to employ one in this case. Because the first time you see it, it’s like what? The second time, it makes sense. And then after that, it gets very annoying. Consider it a test of your ability to concentrate. From now on, IGNORE THE SPINNING THING!

Meanwhile, a word of warning: Even at nearly 12 minutes long, this video goes by fast. If I had it to do over again, I would have slowed a few steps. But that’s the nature of blog videos. Once they’re out there, they’re out there. Still, it’s cool. And you can always pause, back up, and replay.

(Ye gads, my favorite Deke’s Techniques so far requires a lot of apologies. I’m so sorry. Ope, there I go again!)

Here’s the official description from my video publisher, which comes to you entirely without my (come to think of it) idiotic qualifiers:

This week, Deke’s Techniques turns your world upside-down, only to find that it’s the same as when it was right-side up. Deke, that master of typographic illusion, sets out to create an ambigram in that best of vector drawing apps, Illustrator. And he chooses a particularly appropriate word (both in its structure and meaning): Adobe.

For those of you who aren’t devotees of either Douglas Hofstader (Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid) or Dan Brown (Angels & Demons), an ambigram is a typographic treatment that (to quote Hofstader, who apparently coined the term) “squeezes two different readings into the selfsame set of curves.” The particular type of ambigram that Deke explores is one in which you turn the letters over, only to find that nothing has changed:

This week’s free video shows you how to exploit Illustrator’s dynamic Transform command to work out your ambigramatic tendencies, watching as you create one half of the word and see it flipped in real time on the other side. For members of, Deke’s exclusive video addition to the Online Training Library reveals a more complicated double-word phrase that can still be turned upside-down without a shift in meaning.

Either way you look at it, it’s a very cool type trick from Deke this week. Next week? The first of two weeks of Halloween tricks. Stop by for another free technique to find out what mysteries Deke has in store.

Yea! Halloween begins next week! (I’m so excited!)

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 071: Drawing a Halloween Scareflake

Previous entry:I’m Geeking Out on Ambigrams

  • spectacular

    one of the best techniques I’ve ever seen!! Deke you’re Adobe King…

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