ASCII Art

Whether you know it as ASCII art or didn't know a proper name for all that text art made with standard keyboard characters, you can do it yourself. It really is much simpler than you may expect. I've been creating ASCII line art since 1997. After a few years I left it behind, there were so few places I could still use it once email became HTML instead of plan text. Now ASCII art seems to be making a come back for cell phones and other new technological gadgets which can send simple graphics, in text. Start with an idea of what you would like to create. Get an image in your mind and then draw a rough sketch, look for a clip art image online or any other way you can get a visible image in front of you. When you are starting and still learning it is important to keep the image clean and simple. Stick to something with only a few lines and not many round shapes. (Circles are one of the more complicated shapes to create and will take some practice.) Once you have your image where you can see it, open a text editor. I still use the plain, old text editor that came with Linux. You can use Notepad in Windows, it is simple - you will already have a fixed width font ready to use. If you use a graphic editor or anything other than a basic text editor you will need to make sure the font is fixed width. This means all the characters (letters, numbers and symbols) are the same standard space apart from each other. From W to I they take up the same amount of space. Other fonts will give you a very different result and are harder to work with when it comes to displaying text art. (At the very least they will always lean to the far left). I like to be set up with my text editor taking up about half the screen and my inspiration image/ picture on the other side (unless it's a print image and then I prop it up in front of me on my desk). The first thing I do is make some empty working space on the text editor. Just use the enter key to go down a few lines. Start working on a level that is comfortable for you to view - not too high or low on your screen. No one can tell you exactly what characters to use. That is all up to your own judgement. Base your choices on what will fit/ suit the image you are creating from. Look at the direction the lines go and then find a keyboard character that will work. Take your time, change your mind a few times, try different numbers and letters as well as the basic shapes with / \ | > ( ) < and the small dots from punctuation characters ' . - Use the space bar to move to a new spot you want to type in. You need to create the blank spaces in order for them to appear. This is a time when the mouse is second fiddle. The enter or carriage return will take you to a new line. Backspace erases anything you want to change. This may seem obvious but we have grown comfortable using the mouse - it does take getting used to just working with the keyboard. As you work notice how different characters set on different levels. Some are higher and some lower. Use this to your advantage. _ , - ' `

When you want to make eyes there are a lot of options @ o 9 a e b q p d c g 6. Try them all. Each gives a different personality to the image. A combination of q p (for instance) can create eyes and a nose or snout. Take a look at letters like Y T and W. Those will give you some basic shapes too. When you create smaller ASCII text pictures the shape of letters and numbers matter and can give you exactly what you need in a small space. Y makes a nice nose for a cat's face. For making a box I like to use .------. to join it to the sides at the top and then .____. to join it to the sides at the bottom. For shading/ making a dark area # works well. Some people get more complicated and create greyscale ASCII art. This takes some practice, some familiarity with the keyboard characters and how they combine to create a finished image. Don't try something too complicated for your early work. Experiment and learn as you work. Look at the ASCII art done by others and see how they used different letters, numbers and characters to create the shapes they wanted. Think of it as a puzzle, a jigsaw puzzle, where you are fitting the pieces together to create the complete image. If you have a print image you can hold it up to your screen and match your text to the shapes by comparing how they fit under the paper it's printed on. I never did this myself. It seems to take away some of the creativity and ingenuity for me. But, if that gives you the will to keep trying, go ahead and do it. Leave a couple of lines above and below your finished ASCII text art. I also like to keep my work a few spaces over from the left hand side of the screen edge. Once you are fairly happy with your creation save the text file on your computer. Give it a name and add it to your hard drive. If you have software to capture your file as a graphic image file you can do that too. I just use a screen capture that lets me pick the size I want to save instead of the whole screen. It is much easier to share and post text/ ASCII art in an image file.

Don't forget to add your artist initials to your finished work. ASCII art is usually shared freely, often adapted by other artists (diddled as we used to call it in the ASCII art newsgroup) but the initials should be kept with the art as respect to the original creator of the art. Plus, when you find something you really like you have a chance to find more of it when you know who made it.
I still need to check these links but posting them meanwhile.
Alt.Ascii-Art FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and their answers for the alt.ascii-art Usenet newsgroup. Compiler: CJRandall
Rowan Crawford's ASCII Art Guide
ASCII Graphical Techniques V.1
Normand Veilleux's ASCII Art Tutorial
ASCII Art tutorial from Normand Veilleux.
Make a Start in ASCII Art
Tutorial by Danie Au.
Targon's ASCII Art Tutorial
Targon's ASCII Art Tutorial
So, You Want to Make Text Art?
Tutorial by Jonathon R. Oglesbee (JRO).
Susie Oviatt's ASCII Art Tutorial
Susie Oviatt's ASCII Art Tutorial
Welcome to ASCII-Art
Answers to frequently asked questions in the ASCII art discussion groups. Author: Matthew Thomas.
ASCII ART FAQ by Jorn Barger
ASCII ART FAQ by Jorn Barger
Ye Olde Ascii Art FAQ ( Bob Allison )
Ye Olde Ascii Art FAQ ( Bob Allison )
How to Make ASCII
ASCII guide by Flump.
Allen Mullen's FAQ
Allen Mullen's FAQ
About ASCII Art
About ASCII Art - Graphical Images Composed of Text
Scarecrow's ASCII Art Reference
Scarecrow's ASCII Art Reference
Scarecrow's ASCII Art FAQ
Scarecrow's ASCII Art FAQ - Long Version
FAQ fromLocalColorArts.com
FAQ fromLocalColorArts.com
How to Display ASCII Art Properly
How to Display ASCII Art Properly
Legal ASCII Art Characters
Legal ASCII Art Characters
Joan Stark: How I Make These ASCII Pictures
ASCII Art Tutorial by Joan Stark/ Joan Spunk.
 
ASCII Art Canada Day
Emoticons, are also known as smileys/ smilies. Emoticons are used to show or explain emotion in the context of your writing. They are a great way to use text, and show emotion, in an otherwise flat email. Emoticons can make communication clear when you are teasing versus being serious. I've also used them to make sure someone understands what I have written was not meant to be taken overly seriously when I am sending a message about something important. Making emoticons is as simple as typing on your keyboard. Look down there at your fingers, find the characters, press and release. Creating emoticons  is simple, once you know which emoticon means which emotion. Some emoticons, like the basic smile face, have developed several different versions over the years. Some have a nose and some are shortened to a two character smiley, no nose included. (The nose has become optional). ASCII Art - Scoop.it

Using Emoticons for Online Chat

Online chat uses text emoticons and turns them into image files/ graphics. Often people are not actually talking about making emoticons, but these graphics when they ask about how to make emoticons. Based on the original text emoticons these images are displayed as image files. Each chat (Yahoo, MSN, etc.) uses different emoticons and graphics. However, the basic smiley is still a smiley.

Sources for More Text-Based Emoticons

  :-) Smiley face :-( Frown face B-) Cool |-O Yawn :-D Laughing =D Laughing out loud :-/ Perplexed :-& Tongue tied :-J Tongue in cheek :-" Whistling :-O Eek :`( Crying face >-( Annoyed X-( Angry :-> Grin X-P Joking :-| Neutral :-* Kiss :-P Sticking out tongue ;-) Winking =) Happy face %-) Confused :-} Embarrassed 8-O Shocked %%- Good luck  
There are several sites where you can type in any name or title and have it re-created into an ASCII art text banner. It's a unique way to create a blog header or any other title related web graphics you need. I posted my name at the end of my contact form in my WordGrrls blog. It's a little personal touch and maybe some of the comment spammers will at least know my name. (Some days I'm deep into the optimism).

Web Based ASCII Banner Creators

I Make my own ASCII Art. So Can You. Start by looking down at your keyboard. The typical keyboard has every character (letter and punctuation mark) that you need to make your own ASCII art. Anything not already on that keyboard is not used for ASCII art. If you use extra characters you're making ANSI art. Always work in a font which is a fixed width. Notepad, the Windows defaul text editor runs on a fixed width font. I always use a basic, simple text editor when I'm making ASCII art. Even now using Linux, there is a plain text editor. First, decide what you actually want to create. I like to have a sketch I've done myself or find some clip art online to guide me while I work. Whatever works to give a plan, a simple outline - it does help. Use your own keyboard as an aid to figuring out what will work for the shapes you need for your design/ picture. If you work on something small you're going to need to be pretty specific with the shapes you pick. So, try something a litle larger in size. This gives you leeway to create shapes with several characters rather than just one. (This will make more sense once you are actually started). When you're pretty happy with your creation, don't forget the final touch - your artist initials! Mine are ldb.

You Can Get Fancy with Your ASCII Art

Add colour, make it bigger, change the whole style of it even.

Change to another fixed width font and you can alter the look of your ASCII art. I prefer FixedSys font but it's not available with every text editor. Try other fonts, like Consolas and Dark Courier. Some of them will give you thinner lines. Some will use shorter lines. You can see the difference a font makes in the Canadian flag illustration. Use an HTML editor to resize your ASCII art and add colour to it. This even lets you change the background dark and your ASCII art can be light on the dark. You will need a screen capture software to save your image from the HTML editor screen. You can try various other options but this is what I've found works best for me. I use Kompzer as an HTML editor (it runs with Linux).

Now Put your ASCII Art on Your Blog/ Site

I've seen people post guides to making ASCII art. Most of them have never actually made any ASCII art. They may have used software to create something, but that's not the same. It isn't hard to make ASCII art, don't cop out with software. Try DIY first. Of course, you won't be an expert on your first try - so try again and then take some time away from it and come back for another try on the same image/ picture. Look at tutorials and guides, look at ASCII art created by other people, keep trying it. Put your creations up online. Let other people see them. Chances are they will be far less hard on your work than you will yourself. Try formatting the ASCII art but if that isn't working just turn it into an image file and post it like any other jpg, gif or png file.