Copy of an orginal post by Heather Champ. This is reposted from ASCIIArtGallery.com which is no longer online.
For those online whose Internet experience precedes the World-Wide Web, a first brush with ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange–a 7-bit character code capable of representing 128 characters) art might have been a computer print-out on the perforated feed paper with a representation of George Washington, the Mona Lisa smiling her mysterious smile, or perhaps even the somewhat silly grin of Alfred E. Neuman.
For the most part ASCII art lives on in thousand of signature files, representing three-dimensional letters, animals, and recently a stick figure doing the Macarena. And while the rest of the world may snickger and grin at these overly large “business cards” attached to each and every e-mail, ASCII art is coming into its own on a variety of different Web sites.
Why allow those chubby graphics to clog up a users bandwidth. Pixels are not the only element that can be used to create images online. Granted, ASCII art will never replace GIFs, but it can offer a very stylized look and feel that might be an appropriate design solution for a specific project. On the other hand, given that ASCII is generated in HTML, it’s easy to play with the font color without going through the bother of making changes in Photoshop and then retransparentizing GIFs.
äda’web has just launched their 4.0 interface–“Why äda’web interface 4.0? Because things go better with ASCII, the original Web art, the other white meat . . . and it is still best viewed with Netscape 3.n.” It’s wonderfully refreshing. Be sure to find Elvis! It’s a very smart and refreshing take on information delivery.
How to ASCII
ASCII art will only work with monospace fonts. Monospace fonts (e.g., Courier) allow the same letter spacing for each letter. For example, an “i” will take up the same room as the fatter “o.” Proportional fonts allow for smaller letter spacing; an “i” will have enough space so that the text flows more freely without looking as “gap toothed” as the monospace fonts. An HTML document must be coded using the
< pre > </ pre >
tag to ensure that arrangement of the characters will display properly with monospace fonts.
Online ASCII Resources
ASCII World–“You give us 26 characters, we’ll give you the world”–has a great online Transformation section that enables a user to generate Figlets, or ASCII headers. Gifscii is a utility that turns GIFs and JPGs into ASCII art. Enter the URL of an image and ASCII World checks the URL, fetches the image, and then converts it to an ASCII version. The process can take a minute or two, which is longer than the almost instantaneous Figlet generator.
Sophomore Colin Cross created a Figlet Input Form that generates a very impressive variety of output “fonts” more than ASCII World. It’s great for headers!
ASCII Art: Figlet Factory, Title Maker, Banner Generator
Past installments of Design Diary