1. Start by identifying your message.
What will your ambigram say? Whether it’s a phrase or a simple word, be cognizant of the limitations of ambigrams. Some letters can’t be transformed into others, and short words can’t magically become lengthy sentences when flipped upside down.
2. Research different fonts and iconography.
“By looking at motifs and design styles from different cultures, you can build your frame of reference,” explains artist and designer Arnold Pander. Understanding the flourishes and serifs used in medieval or gothic fonts can give you more tools to use when designing and warping letters for your ambigram design. If you need a place to start, try exploring Adobe Fonts — you may find the inspiration you’re looking for.
3. Start sketching.
Ambigrams are word puzzles, so broaden your mind by sketching out your word several times. See where the letters line up and experiment with shapes. “There are a lot of layers to ambigrams that make it work, but if it doesn’t work, it’s very obvious,” according to lettering artist Robin Casey. The kerning and spacing of letters varies depending on which way it’s read, so keep that in mind when sketching your shapes. Ambigrams are inherently tricky to design — don’t get discouraged by your first draft. If a design isn’t working, try referencing a different font or switch to all capitals.
4. Perfect your design.
When you have a design that works, formalize it with Adobe Illustrator. If you’ve sketched on paper, scan or photograph your design and create a vector version of it. Familiarize yourself with how to rotate and reflect objects in Illustrator so you can flip and finalize your letters. Additionally, follow this logo tutorial to learn how to polish up any design, including your ambigram.