What is the process of making ASCII art?

Quoted from my answer on Quora:

I open Notepad (on a Windows PC) and start working on an idea. It’s like a puzzle to fit the characters together in a way that creates an image.

Some inspiration comes from searching for images or those I find. I look for clean lines so it will be easier to adjust when I need to figure out the spaces, characters, slopes for lines, and so on.

The font you work with makes a difference. Notepad uses FixedSys (or one of the newer offshoots). I seldom like how ASCII art looks when it is shown in another font. Courier and others use a thinner line which makes the ASCII art seem washed out. Plus, even though they are monospaced, the lines in columns don’t match up exactly the same.

I know some people would make a pattern or sketch and tape it to their monitor. So the ASCII art would be like filling in the lines (connecting the dots). I’ve never done that. Most often I have a general idea and add some characters, sit back a bit and see how things are shaping up as I go along.

Don’t delete a bunch of stuff and start over too often. Sometimes just adding a bit of detail will pull the whole image together. Circles and curves are one of the hardest things to work with, especially if you make a smaller ASCII art image. Close lines, like trying to make fingers for a hand, are pretty much impossible unless you make a bigger image or settle for a hand with just three fingers. I avoid hands and just have people holding things. This works well cause it adds more details to the image and explains what it was meant to be.

I don’t use any alt characters. ASCII isn’t about anything but the standard keyboard characters. You can do a lot with lines and dashes but I find a way to use numbers and letters too. It seems a bit bare without them.flowers100

via – What is the process of making ASCII art? – Quora.

What is an Archivist?

I’ve been interested in keeping old content and what happens to content once the source is gone, for a long time. In particular, web content, since the days I was an editor with the Open Directory Project. I liked finding sites which disappeared. Often I could find them again, on their own domain or from their own domain to a free service like Blogger. I liked tracking them down. It was an adventure and something I could feel pleased about. Not every site could be found again. Often, they were abandoned too. Content still there but no one maintaining it.

There are so many other issues when it comes to preserving online/ web content. Consider the web host the site is on. When payments to the host stop it isn’t long before the domain expires and the site will go missing. What happens to your own sites, social media and whatever else you’ve got, if you die? I think about that too. Mine would all just be gone and not all that missed. But, I’ve written it mostly for myself and my own satisfaction, something new to learn.

I’ve got archives of ASCII art. Loads of it but all a mess, not organized. I try to sort it but soon decide my methods are not working well and no one will actually find anything. Plus, there is the problem of how to display it. ASCII art works in plain text files but does not show up on an HTML site (very well or easily) that way. I’ve had people bitch, complaining that it isn’t really ASCII art if it’s shown in an image file versus plain text. Well, whine on, but you don’t have the headache of trying to make it work.

Anyway, so much for keeping on point…


I’d like to know more about how web content is being archived and what people are doing with the content they save. How is it being stored? Is it viewable by anyone? What about copyrights? So many questions… what is an archivist

via- The Association of Canadian Archivists


Note: I did have this saved in plain text so it would post the ASCII art. But, it seems there is always something, some detail, which changes somewhere and messes up the formatting. Even when I use the code formatting plugin. So I am posting this ‘as is’ rather than leave it sitting on my to-do list. The original source link follows and then the contents. The ASCII art is messed up. It seems the only reliable way to show it is to copy and paste it into an image file. I may do that at some point. But, for now this is an archive of the original because I thought the post was interesting and I wanted to preserve it. 

h2g2 – Ambigrams (sweJ6!qwe).

Ambigrams (sweJ6!qwe)
Created Jan 12, 2001 | Updated Nov 19, 2002

6 Conversations

Look at this ascii art picture:

,-. Henry Segerman
|,–. /\ |\ |/\,–. ,
/| | \/ | \ | /\ | |/
‘ `–‘\/| \| \/ `–‘|
uewJ363S hJu3H `-‘
‘Yeah’, you say, and apart from the odd cryptic bit at the bottom, maybe you just think it says ‘henry’ in ascii art. Well pick up your monitor, flip it over on its top, and look again (or you could flip yourself over on your top). That’s an ambigram. And so is the h2g2 logo (at least it is at time of writing).

Ambigrams seem to have been invented independently by a few people around the 1970s. Their first public appearance was in Scott Kim ‘Inversions’ (1981), followed by a walk-on part in Douglas Hofstadter’s ‘Metamagical Themas’ (1985).

So how do you do them? Well the above is a rotational symmetry one, though you can also do them with various kinds of mirror symmetry, and even translational symmetry sometimes. This entry will concentrate on the rotational symmetry type.

The simplest way to do them, is to try to write the nth letter in such a way that the other way up, it looks like the nth letter from the end of the word. So in ‘henry’ above, the ‘h’ is written to look like a ‘y’ upside down. Many letter pairs work well here. For example, d-p, m-w, n-u, b-q, h-y and a-e. Note there are two ways in which ‘a’ is written: ‘a’ and ‘a’. You want the one that looks like an ‘e’ upside down. If the two ‘a’s are not appreciably different, then you don’t have the font ‘Lucidia Sans’ on your computer – the other way to write an ‘a’ is handwriting style – see the example below.

These letters work well with themselves: I, N, o, s, x, z.
You can also make most letters look like themselves upside down, with a little tweaking. For example:

_ _ \
/ \/ \ |
/ / _|_
\_/\_/ |
…are ‘a’ and ‘t’. But then you could see that anyway.

Sometimes matching single letters together doesn’t work. No matter what you do, a ‘m’ isn’t going
to look much like a ‘l’ the other way up. Well have one large letter be more than one smaller letter
upside down:

/\ o |
\/ /\/|/| | | | /\/
/\/ | | | |/|/\/ /\
| o \/
Hopefully you can see that is ’emily’. Here the ‘m’ is being the ‘i’, the ‘l’ and half of the ‘y’.

As well as the ‘a’ and ‘a’ options, a few other letters
can be written in more than one basic style, e.g. ‘s’ (normal) and ‘s’ (script handwriting style, again apologies if your computer doesn’t have the font ‘Lucidia Handwriting’), and
many other variations on serifs and other twiddly bits/handwriting style effects can be useful in matching letters.
Capitals give you more options too – though it does look a lot better if the capitalisation is correct for the word. For recognisability, the
first and last letters are the most important to try to get looking right.

Sometimes there’s a really horrible problem with an ambigram which isn’t working. For example, it’s pretty hard to get an ‘O’ to look like anything other than
an ‘O’ upside down. Or double letters. Your brain automatically accepts a surprisingly varied selection of ways of writing a letter, but if you’ve got the
same letter right next door in a different style, it doesn’t like it. There are sometimes ways round double letters – use both of them in constructing some
large letter the other way up:

_ _ |_ |_
/\ /\ / \/ \ | |
| | | / / | | |
_| _| \_/\_/ \/ \/
| |
… or just be lucky and find you can do them the same style. Some words just don’t work at all –
then sometimes you’ll try it again months later and it all ‘clicks’ and people won’t realise its an
ambigram, at least until you turn it upside down.

That’s about it for basics.
Beyond here, mess about with words with pencil and paper, have a look at other people’s ambigrams
always be on the lookout for any fancy ways to write letters.

,-. / \ ,-. ,-. ,-.
/__|_ / | | /
/ | \ / \_|__ /
/ | | / | /
`-‘ `-‘ `-‘ \_/ ‘-‘