You Don’t Need an ASCII Art Generator

Don’t be afraid to make your own ASCII art. Of course it won’t look just as you imagine, or want, right away. Mine didn’t. There are still ideas I start working on and end up deleting because they just aren’t working out. If something still has hope, I keep it. The point is, don’t get discouraged too easily.

Don’t be lazy either. Software can convert an image into text, that doesn’t make it art. Computer generated images are not art. Computers are not that advanced yet. A human still needs to be part of the process. If you’re just using software to copy art created by someone else… why are you bothering? Make something of your own.

Lastly, don’t steal or claim art as your own. Try making something of your own and don’t decide it’s too hard before you have really tried.

How to make your own ASCII art with your computer keyboard

I use Notepad with MS Windows. No extra features, nothing fancy. My favourite font with Notepad is FixedSys or Consolas. Change your Notepad settings by going to Format and then Font. Don’t use italics or bold. Later, if you save your ASCII art to an image file, you might see if it looks better using bold. Leave it off while you work on creating it. Set your font size to something you can work with. A little bigger helps but too big just doesn’t help at all.

Start with a stick figure. Pretty simple to make those basic shapes and then add details. Don’t try to start making some epic masterpiece on your first try, or your second, probably not your third either. Keep it simple while you figure things out.

Give yourself room to work. Start creating in the middle of the Notepad screen, not at the top or right at the side.

It can matter what part of the picture you start making. ASCII art relies on spacing, not just the space between characters but the space the letters hit on the page. Not everything meets up where you would like it to. Experiment, it’s the only way to really figure out how the letters, numbers and symbols work together. A stick figure is a good way to begin to understand this.

Start with the head. Go with a small head or try something bigger. Curved lines are harder to build. You will learn to layer things to make your curves. Don’t forget you can also skip a space, leave it empty, that can work better than adding more characters to fill in every space but make your picture look cluttered and complicated to work with.

You’re going to need to go back and forth, a lot. As you type in ASCII characters things move around and get out of place. The backspace key is the one you are likely to use more than any other on your keyboard. Pull characters (typewritten/ font characters) back into place with the backspace key. To move them the other direction, just use the space bar. Have patience! Moving things around can be a fiddly thing.

Add lines for the body, arms and legs. Feet can be a simple line too. Hands are easier to work on if your stick figure is bigger. Smaller pictures require more experimenting. You have less space to work with and only so many ASCII characters will fit in the space where you want them to.

Add a hat to your stick figure. Give it something individual, original and uniquely you. Or, try adding hair.

Get creative, try different characters to create the face for your stick figure. Can you change the look with just a small change to the face?

What will your stick figure wear? Try shoes instead of the simple flat feet.

Save what you have along the way. Just copy and paste your work as is and leave one as a reference and the other as a working copy. It helps to look back and see what worked before you made more changes. You might go back to what you had before, with a modification or two.

Don’t forget you have capital and small letters to work with. Every character you can see on your keyboard is available. A few are great for just that spot you needed a little something for.

Work on bigger and fancier images when you get the general feel for it. Consider using line art, my favourite, or get into shading and other more complicated methods.

Last tip – Don’t work in the dark. It’s really hard to see the keyboard that way.

When you’re done, or happy enough with what you’ve made, add your artist initials or your full name as a signature and artist credit.

 

Tracing Images to Make ASCII Art

How to make ASCII art by tracing digital images

I got the idea to try making ASCII art by tracing an image. To do so I had to find a way to make my Notepad transparent on the screen. I ended up using Peek Through. It has the least extra features but it gets the job done, with my own Notepad and settings for font, etc.

The two text editors have some interesting features, but I didn’t explore them. I may yet. At the time I just wanted to try tracing an image.

Tracing an image did not actually work out as well as I thought it could. For me it was better to stick with using an image (usually several different images) as inspiration for my own creation.

I found tracing difficult to work with because the font was smaller, in Transparent Notepad.

Most of all – I just didn’t want to work with the image exactly as-is. When tracing I lose the ability to adapt as I go along. It was too much like making a copy than making my own art.

Creating Keyboard Animals in Three Lines

Original source: Keyboard Animals! | Funny Keyboard Faces and Characters

I’m sure you’ve seen these little animals here and there online.

How many little ASCII art animals can you create with the basic pattern used for these? Give it a try. Add different characters for ears, beaks, tails… see what works.  (Stick to ASCII characters).

I made these (below). They got better as I went along. I found it easier to stick to the three lines by planning a head, body and feet in each line. But, breaking the plan worked okay too.

littleasciianimalsldb

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.

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