Typewriter Art: Creating Pictures from Text

KeiraRathboneArt on Etsy.

Typewriter art could be read as making art using a typewriter (and it’s parts), or making art by typing with a typewriter. In this case, it’s about making art by typing on a typewriter.

I don’t know who the first typewriter artist was, or when they started. But, from what I have read, typewriters were invented in the 1860’s. I could see someone getting the idea pretty early on. Maybe they smudged a line of text and noticed how well it spread, like making a picture.

Typewriter art is like ASCII art (art created with the standard keyboard characters, usually digital/ computer based). Both typewriter and ASCII art use the keyboard characters which are visible on the keyboard layout. If you use the extra characters available it stops being ASCII art and becomes ANSI art. (See Wikipedia for more about ANSI art). Both typewriter and ASCII art make pictures out of keyboard text but, they are created differently and give different results.

The big difference between typewriter art and ASCII art is not so much the typewriter itself, it’s the fact that ASCII art doesn’t smudge, there is no ink involved. (Unless someone prints the ASCII art, but that would be after it was created fully). Typewriter art uses all the elements of the typewriter. Artists working with a specific form of creating art will always learn the idiosyncrasies of their chosen element, typewriters (with their ink and typing ribbons) included. Not all typewriter art uses the technique of smudging the ink, that’s just feature.

I’m an ASCII artist, which is how I became interested in typewriter art, but I have not tried typewriter art myself. At least not deliberately. I am old enough to have used an old, manual typewriter. There was some art form going on there, even before the creation of Liquid Paper.

Keira Rathbone: Modern Typewriter Artist

A Few Typewriter Artists from the Past

A Simple Way to Colour your ASCII Text Art

One downside of creating ASCII art is the lack of colour. We type it into plain text and plain text comes out black on white. It’s pretty plain that way.

For most ASCII art that is fine. It keeps it simple. The focus is the art, the way it was created, rather than making it prettied up just for the sake of being prettier.

However, you can easily bring colour to ASCII art.

You will need:

  • your ASCII art picture (of course)
  • an HTML editor (or text editor with font and colour features)
  • a screen capture software
  • an HTML colour guide (not essential)

First, open the HTML editor. (I actually use Composer with Sea Monkey). Cut and paste your ASCII art into it. Make sure it shows right, change the font as necessary. You can even try a few fonts and see which gives you the look you prefer. My favourite is still FixedSys but Consolas comes in a close second.

Next, highlight your ASCII art and use the HTML editor to colour the text. This is just what you would do if you were changing the colour of a text sentence, quote or paragraph in a written post. Any HTML or text editor that lets you change the font and colour of your text will work. If not, try another one, there are lots of good, free HTML and text editors.

When your ASCII art is highlighted bring up your screen capture. (I use KSnapshot). Before you capture the image check the position of your cursor. Make sure it’s not in the picture, literally. (I still do this once in a while and have to take a second screen capture to fix it). When you’re ready, take the screen capture of the ASCII art and turn it into an image file. If you have a choice, the .png file tends to give best results.

That’s it! Of course this makes the image all one colour. If you want to make the image a light colour, change to a dark background colour. You can spend time and effort on doing more. I don’t usually. I like to keep it simple and not spend more time colouring the ASCII art than I did in creating it.

How to Stop Emoticon Addiction

ASCII computersAn emoticon is a terrible thing to waste.

Emoticons (aka smileys) are fun, easy and add a lightness to any email or forum posts. When you want to add emotion, feelings or mood to your typed words you can just slip in an emoticon. 🙂 They’re so simple to make, to remember and no-fuss.

Of course, some times we use a few too many. Sometimes we forget we aren’t typing a personal email and send an emoticon to the wrong person. Sometimes we send emoticons to people who just don’t like cute little text smileys. Then, there are the times we look back at the email we just sent and notice how many of those smileys are in there.

Too much of a good thing is still too much of a good thing. If you find yourself overindulging in emoticons – start cutting back.

Are you an Emoticon Use Abuser?

Not sure how many emoticons are too many? Ask the people you send your email to. Ask the people who read your posts on forums. (If you use an emoticon with every sentence you type – that’s really too much).

You find you also type a lot of other Internet shorthand, like LOL and ROFL.

Consider why you use so many smileys. Do you really need to explain or emphasize everything you write? Chances are the smileys have become a habit and you’ve forgotten how much simpler and uncluttered your text could be without them.

How to Control your Emoticon/ Smiley Addiction

Stop using smileys in emails or forums where you don’t know everyone well. Friends are more likely to enjoy the more personal styled communication.

Skip the smiley and actually write about your feelings and thoughts. Don’t leave people guessing or making assumptions. You may even find yourself connecting much better with people once you stop relying on smiley faces to tell them how you feel.

Instead of finding new and creative smileys to use, stick with just a few and use them sparingly. Standard emoticons like 🙂 😀 and 😛 should be plenty. Plus, these are standard enough for the average person to know rather than needing a special education on emoticons.

Replace the emoticons with something else. Go back to punctuation like exclamations points, question marks and dashes. But, don’t over use these either. One per sentence is enough.

Avoid emoticons and smileys when you have to write (or reply to) an email with any kind of bad news or a review of a person, product or service. You need to be professional at times like this and emoticons will not give that professional, competent impression of you.

One way to really stop yourself from over using emoticons is to remove them as a type of Internet shorthand. When you type a smiley follow it with a description in brackets. For instance 🙂 (smile face). This will slow you down and help you see just how often you really are using emoticons.

Emoticons and One Line ASCII Art


Emoticon: Description:
:-) or :) Smile
;-) or ;) Wink
:-D or :D Big smile
:-)) or :)) Very happy
:0) Big nose smiley
|-) Cool!
B-) or B) Evil grin
>:-) or >:) Another evil grin
>:-> or >:> Yet another evil grin
>;-> or >;> Evil grin with a wink
:-X or :X I'm not telling (my lips are sealed)
}:-) or }:) Develish
;} Devilish wink and smile
3;-} Devil
:-^) or :^) Tongue in cheek
:-P or :P Sticking out tongue
:-& or :& Tongue tied
:oþ or :þ Showin' tongue
:oÞ Puppy face
0:-) or 0:) Saint
:-)8 or :)8 Happy wearing a bow tie
8-) or 8) Happy with glasses
#-) I partied all night
%-) or %) Drunk
:*) Much to drink
%*} Too much to drink
:-###.. or :###.. Being sick
%-( or %( Confused
:-0 or :0 Shocked
:-o or :o Surprised
8-o or 8o Oh my God!
:-| or :| Indecision
:'-( or :'( Crying
:'-) or :') Crying of happiness
:-( or :( Sad
:-{ or :{ Sad
:'( Sad
>:-( or >:( Sadder
:-{) Smiley face with mustache
[:-) or [:) Wearing headphones
8:-) Person wearing glasses on head
8:-) Little girl
=Q or :-Q Smoking
{ :-~[] Smoking
:-$ or :$ Put your money where your mouth is.
8-@ Aaaaahhhh !
:-@ The scream
(:-) No Hair
(8-) No Hair

Persons: Description:
~(_:(l) Simpson, Homer
(_8^(|) Simpson, Homer
888888888:-) Simpson, Marge
@@@@@@@@@:-) Simpson, Marge
:~.) Crawford, Cindy
=:-) Cyberpunk
C:> or D:> MS-DOS Programmer
<|-) Chinese >8=[ ... Alien / Marsian
>8=§~ Alien / Marsian
+<= Gospel Users +O:-) I'm the Pope <]:^) A clown @<}:-{'}}} Santa Clause' By Biostar *<||:o) o o o Santa { :-~[] Smoker @:-§ Russian Folk Dancer :[~ Vampire =):-) Abraham Lincoln '8^) Dilbert <|:~, A Witch 8(:-) Mickey Mouse d:) Baseball dude <:o) Just a plain old happy face >:o) Just a plain old happy face
B*) or B{ ) Glasses and Mustache
:-{)> or :{)> Smile with a beard and mustache
=-( + or =(+ Mourning for lost one
8D or 8-D Really Happy
?8 -) or ?8 ) Confused
$ -) Stoned
$ -Q Smoking pot
:-)~ or :)~ Happy face sticking out tongue
O>) Cyclops
:-* Kiss
:**: Kiss on mouth
.-) Person who can smile even though he's lost an eye.
:------) Person with really long nose.
:p or :-p Giving a raspberry
&=) Elvis
E&= or =8> Bad hair day
=:-( or =:( Bad hair day
#*:-) or #*:) Bad hair day
¤¿¤ im just looking
:--) > gottee
==:oB or =:-B Easter Bunny with big teeth
=-1 or =1 Thinking
B-, Nerd
I-{> or I{> mustache & beard
d:) with cap
{:-) lincoln
:^" I'd like to give you a kiss
>:-@ mad as hell (you don't have any showing anger)
>:-@#*% mad as hell (you don't have any showing anger)
:-{} too much lipstick
:~( crying
:~~( Crying
~..~ frowny face
:-)) or :o)) smile with a double chin
:^J Smirk
:^D or :-D Goofy Grin
:-p #$%& Being sick
:p #$%& Being sick
:-( or : { Worried
:-P~~~~~~~~~ Raspberries
¦¬] or ¦] Satisfaction
(^_^) Japanese smiley face
|-) or |) Sleeping (aka "cool")
5:-) Elvis
@;^) Elvis
?: ) or ?: | Elvis by Nick.Brown
*(:{) My Santa By Cheri Scott
:-)= or :)= Rabbit teeth
:::) or 88) An anlien and his alien dog
:)~:-)~ Guy with one eyebrow and a goat
>:-] or >:] Devil
=O) Hello
¦O) Sweet Dreams
:8) or 8) Pig smiling
8D Surprised
}:-U or }:U Complaining
(}{}>:-( Nuclear madness
-=) or -:) Punker
: D{ Mustache
:-{)> or :{)> Smiley face with goatee
:>) Nosey/Nosie
:-)~ or : )~ My Tongue's Wagging
:+))) smiley with double chin
(o:F Rudolph
q(:^)) (*) ( *) (*)B Frosty
:-P~~~~~~~~~~ Sticking out tongue, Big time

{} {} {} {} Kisses
(_!_) symbol for an ass
(_ ! _) symbol for a bigger ass
(_I_) kiss my ass

X-Rated: Description:
//(.)(.) Arms and breasts
:) <=8 Guy with a hard on :^)---'< Guy in bed with erotic fantasy :-)---< Male with erection or feeling horney :-(--/< Male with lost erection or feeling impotent 8====> Male Genitalia
0====8 Male Genitalia
_/*/_ Pussy