Ascii Art:

the fine art of making pictures for character based terminals and printers, using only standard Ascii characters.

That is, only codes 0x20 - 0x7e are allowed. Ascii-Art is designed for monospaced fonts like Courier.

1 Smileys (emoticons)

short one-line symbols representing a (smiling) human face, best seen when either you turn your head or your monitor by 90 degrees :-) Smileys can be inserted anywhere in a text and reflect the autor's feeling at the remark he just made. Smileys are popular in emails, news and can even be found in source-code of programs.

Some examples:

:-)   the standard smiley, happy face, the author is joking

;-)   twinkling, or a smiling pirate

:-(   sad face

more smileys.

2 Line Art

2.1 Flow charts (boxology)

Example: the problem-solving algorithm


                    YES   =============================   NO
             +-----------|| Does the Darn Thing work? ||-----------+
             |            =============================            |
             V                                                     V
        +----------+     +---------+                          +---------+
        |   Don't  |  NO |   Does  |       +-------+     YES  | Did you |
        |   mess   | +---|  anyone |<------|  YOU  |<---------|   mess  |
        | with it! | |   |  know?  |       | MORON |          | with it |
        +----------+ |   +---------+       +-------+          +---------+
             |       V        | YES                                |  NO
             |    +------+    +-----------+                        |
             |    | HIDE |                V                        V
             |    |  IT  |            +--------+             +-----------+
             |    +------+            |  YOU   |        YES  | WILL THEY |
             |       |       +------->|  POOR  |<------------| CATCH YOU?|
             |       |       |        |BASTARD!|             +-----------+
             |       |       |        |________|                   |  NO
             |       |       |             |                       |
             |       |       |             V                       V
             |       |       |      +---------------+        +-----------+
             |       |       |  NO  | CAN YOU BLAME |        |DESTROY THE|
             |       |       +------| SOMEONE ELSE? |        |  EVIDENCE |
             |       |              +---------------+        +-----------+
             |       |                     |  YES                  |
             |       |                     v                       |
             |       |      ============================           |
             |       +---->||           N O            ||<---------+
             +------------>||      P R O B L E M       ||
                            ============================

2.2

 _    ___  _____  _____  ___   ___   _____  _  _   ___ 
| |  | __!|_   _||_   _|| __! | _ ) |_   _|| \| | / __!
| |_ | __!  | |    | |  | __! |   \  _| |_ |    || \_ \
!___!!___!  !_!    !_!  !___! !_!\_\!_____!!_!\_| \___/

A classical program to generate big letters in many fonts is FIGLET (Frank, Ian and Glenn's LETters).

2.3 drawings

 /\_/\
( o.o )
 > ^ <
       (o_
(o_    //\
(/)_   V_/_
   ..::::::::.
  :::::::::::::
 /. `:::::::::::
o__,_::::::::::'
 A/~~\A
((o  o))
  \  /
  (--)
 (@<
(< )
 ^^
 _   _
(_)_(_)
 (o o)
==\o/==
 ^..^
( oo )  )~
  ,,  ,,
          __
 \ ______/ V`-,
  }        /~~
 /_)^ --,r'
|b      |b
  ___
 (o,o)
<  .  >
--"-"--
_o)
 /_///
(____>
 o 
/|\
/ \
\ o /
  |
 / \
 _ o
  |
 | \
__\o
/) |
__|
  \o
  (\
\ /
 |
/o\
  |__
o/
/)
o/__
|  (\
o _
/\
/ |
\ o /
  |
 / \
 o
/|\
/ \

Popular objects are animals, flowers, starships,... Size goes from a few lines to full-page. Small pictures are often used in signatures of emails. They were also used to illustrate text-based computer games, or in terminal login-screens. They can even be found in Web-pages instead of (larger) GIF images, or as ASCII <HR> tag.


                              \./
                             (o o)
-------------------------oOOo-(_)-oOOo-------------------------


2.4 3D Art

Stereograms, like this Snowman by Rowan Crawford.


       .-~~\           ::::::    .-~~\        ::::::
      /     \  _       |::::|   /     \ _     |::::|
      ~x    .-~_)_     l~~~~!   ~x   .-~_)_   l~~~~!
        ~>x".-~   ~-.   \RC/      ~x".-~   ~-. \RC/
     _   ( /         \   ||    _  ( /         \ ||
     ||   T  o  o     Y  ||    ||  T o  o      Y||
   ==:l   l   <       !  (3  ==:l  l  <        !(3
      \\   \  .__/   /  /||     \\  \  ._/    / ||
       \\ ,r"-,___.-'r.//||      \\,r"-,___.-'r/||
        }^ \.( )   _.'//.||      }^\. ( )  _.-//||
       /    }~Xi--~  //  ||     /   }~Xi--~  // ||\
      Y    Y I\ \    "   ||    Y   Y I\ \    "  || Y
      |    | |o\ \       ||    |   | |o\ \      || |
      |    l_l  Y T      ||    |   l_l  Y T     || |
      l      "o l_j      |!    l     "o l_j     || !
       \                 ||     \               ||/
     .--^.     o  -Row .^||.  .--^.     o -Row  ||--.
          "           ~  `'        "           ~`'

3 Grey scale images

In greyscale images, characters are not only used for their shape, but also for their intensity.

Some images are made to be printed (or to view with a black font on a bright background); most of them should be viewed with white characters on a dark blackground. If they are viewed the wrong way, they generally look like "negatives".






Exemple 1, top half of a picture by Susie Oviatt

               .
              .@.                                    .
              @m@,.                                 .@
             .@m%nm@,.                            .@m@
            .@nvv%vnmm@,.                      .@mn%n@
           .@mnvvv%vvnnmm@,.                .@mmnv%vn@,
           @mmnnvvv%vvvvvnnmm@,.        .@mmnnvvv%vvnm@
           @mmnnvvvvv%vvvvvvnnmm@, ;;;@mmnnvvvvv%vvvnm@,
           `@mmnnvvvvvv%vvvvvnnmmm;;@mmnnvvvvvv%vvvvnmm@
            `@mmmnnvvvvvv%vvvnnmmm;%mmnnvvvvvv%vvvvnnmm@
              `@m%v%v%v%v%v;%;%;%;%;%;%;%%%vv%vvvvnnnmm@
              .,mm@@@@@mm%;;@@m@m@@m@@m@mm;;%%vvvnnnmm@;@,.
           .,@mmmmmmvv%%;;@@vmvvvvvvvvvmvm@@;;%%vvnnm@;%mmm@,
        .,@mmnnvvvvv%%;;@@vvvvv%%%%%%%vvvvmm@@;;%%mm@;%%nnnnm@,
     .,@mnnvv%v%v%v%%;;@mmvvvv%%;*;*;%%vvvvmmm@;;%m;%%v%v%v%vmm@,.
 ,@mnnvv%v%v%v%v%v%v%;;@@vvvv%%;*;*;*;%%vvvvm@@;;m%%%v%v%v%v%v%vnnm@,
 `    `@mnnvv%v%v%v%%;;@mvvvvv%%;;*;;%%vvvmmmm@;;%m;%%v%v%v%vmm@'   '
         `@mmnnvvvvv%%;;@@mvvvv%%%%%%%vvvvmm@@;;%%mm@;%%nnnnm@'
            `@mmmmmmvv%%;;@@mvvvvvvvvvvmmm@@;;%%mmnmm@;%mmm@'
               `mm@@@@@mm%;;@m@@m@m@m@@m@@;;%%vvvvvnmm@;@'
              ,@m%v%v%v%v%v;%;%;%;%;%;%;%;%vv%vvvvvnnmm@
            .@mmnnvvvvvvv%vvvvnnmm%mmnnvvvvvvv%vvvvnnmm@
           .@mmnnvvvvvv%vvvvvvnnmm'`@mmnnvvvvvv%vvvnnmm@
           @mmnnvvvvv%vvvvvvnnmm@':%::`@mmnnvvvv%vvvnm@'
           @mmnnvvv%vvvvvnnmm@'`:::%%:::'`@mmnnvv%vvmm@
           `@mnvvv%vvnnmm@'     `:;%%;:'     `@mvv%vm@'
            `@mnv%vnnm@'          `;%;'         `@n%n@
             `@m%mm@'              ;%;.           `@m@
              @m@'                 `;%;             `@
              `@'                   ;%;.             '
               `                    `;%;

Example 2, picture of Albert Einstein by the Scarecrow

This image should be viewed from a certain distance (1 meter), and must be displayed white on black. I set the appropriate colors with HTML flags. If your browser doesn't show the picture correctly, you must change your display options manually.

                   :(!!:
              ..:::tNi@Nin!+: :::xr
            '!)Q88i@8888NNidbo@Ni8ir
           .s:S988TR88RX*###RB8888i:x
          x+RRX88888NL#?!< :(?#RR888bX
         !MN*#M#*BRR#8iXxi@NUX!MN88888:
       (x@T!M!::(R8H@888888888xX88888#=
       x8W8Ui@!~!XMMM9M8RRRRBMMM!T588.
       .N8888M<<<~!#MXMHM8N888RMR(9R888N!.
       XQ888M!(:::sxXU!?MTT222#MM(?M8888~!
       988NMMf(!!~`"!Rk:X!"""#*N!:~!T588 !
       "R(#MF `(      "!!~     ~(9XN#88XX(:
        "%/9" x~       :L       XH?R?M888x%
         xi/ ~M:u::~  (88)x(:(uuUF(~*"(?8!~
        X38M::#M88R::d(88k9bxH888f4r o((Ri
       '!88N!!X6?M?i8#(88Rt88NMR9%!!'8:(?8!
         #R?(:~B:M88~ 488H~"88XM8~ ~HRtxH#
      +++x8!:('8!@8!.  ""!:.#8M8# ~(!@!M?::
      -(!#\x~:.?(M~ <<::;;>> ?%8xx!:i:`MHbLX
       :*:!!:nM.~!~`<<! <`~" d(?98NHRNi!?888eu.
       ` `xH98MN.      '~~:. ?:x888!888xd88888f
        :@8R?R?88ex  .boba94  WM888M88(W888888f
      .oX"#MMX!!R88b ~"##**".d8f?RRX8PW8888888f
    .u8888iXMMnWU7T#@s.     @88kX888RN88888888f
   .@888888NK9*MR88N86Q:.. x8T888R#88888888888f
  x8888888888@iX#M@8888888N88888#X@88888888888f
 d88888888888kM888NN868RRRRRRR5b@8888888888888f




4 ANSI Art

Ansi (VT100) terminals (or MS-DOS, when the ANSI.SYS driver is loaded) support certain control sequences to clear the screen, move the cursor or change the colours; these control sequences begin with the code <ESC> (0x1b), so files containing control sequences are no regular ASCII-art files. Because they cannot be viewed with every newsreader, they should not be posted to newsgroups; and when so, they must be "encapsuled" (uu-encoded) with a special program.

ANSI codes allow two special features:

colour: newer Web-browsers support commands to change colours in a text. There are colour ASCII images on the Web (for example, on Allen Mullen's site), which use these codes instead of ANSI control sequences.

animations: these files contain a series of images, separated by time-delaying control sequences. A special program (for example VTCAT) is needed to play the animation.


Sources and links

There are three newsgroups devoted to ascii-art:

There are several interesting FAQs from:

WWW-Sites:


     -      ('K    1996-10-19
   (   \ _ /  )
  (  (      \)     Patrick Hahn (phahn@vo.lu)
      (    /
        L L        Homepage http://www2.vo.lu/homepages/phahn/default.htm