From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 10 Sep 04 - ASCII Art
I like the idea of delivering high tech stuff in a low tech medium. That's why TOURBUS is delivered in ASCII (plain text) format. Aside from being immune to viruses, worms and web bugs, it's also the way Al Gore intended email to be. Perhaps that's why ASCII artwork is one of my all-time favorite computer topics.
Long before the advent of the Web and all of its glittering graphics, people were creating computer graphics of a different sort that required no special hardware or software to view. This "ASCII art" can be sent by e-mail without encoding or attachments because it's composed only of plain text characters.
The term ASCII refers to a standard set of characters that are supposed to display the same on any computer. ASCII art is a unique form of expression ranging from the simple to the very complex. Using only the characters on your keyboard and some creativity, you can create images that are cute, funny or intricately beautiful.
Smilies, sometimes called emoticons, are the most basic form of ASCII art. Smilies are textual representations of emotions that people commonly use in their e-mail. They're one way to express feelings in the otherwise emotionless world of e-mail. When you see a bunch of dashes, parentheses, and other punctuation marks that don't seem to make sense, try turning your head sideways. Smileys like the ones in the list below, are great ways to overcome the impersonal nature of the electronic medium.
:-) Smile ;-) Wink :-( FrownThese are the most common smilies, but there are dozens more. You can find a large collection on the web at
or get check out the Unofficial Smiley FAQ at
One favorite subject of the ASCII artists is animals. Many people use them in e-mail or Usenet signature files just for fun. The eagle and the cat below are classic examples.
/ \ __ / ------ / / \( )/ ----- ////// ' \/ ` --- //// / // : : --- // / / /` '-- // //..\\ ====UU====UU==== '//||\\` ''`` ("`-''-/").___..--''"`-._ `6_ 6 ) `-. ( ).`-.__.`) (_Y_.)' ._ ) `._ `. ``-..-' _..`--'_..-_/ /--'_.' ,' (il),-'' (li),' ((!.-'There are also quite a few people who enjoy portraying cows ala keyboard. I've seen some hilarious ASCII cows, like these floating around in cyberspace.
(__) (oo) When cows laugh really hard, /-------\/ does milk come out their nose? / | || * ||w---|| ^^ ^^ (__) (oo) Mathematical Cow / | x=a(b)|| * ||------|| ~~ ~~
If you need a good chuckle, visit David Bader's COMPLETE GUIDE TO COWS, which is a large collection of ASCII cows, dating back to 1991.
A figlet is a way to make large letters out of ordinary text. A program called FIGLET can use a variety of special effects to create text
| (_) | _____ | |_| |__ (_)___ | | | |/ / _ \ | __| '_ \| / __| | | | < __/ | |_| | | | \__ \ |_|_|_|\_\___| \__|_| |_|_|___/ _ _ _ _ _ _ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ ( o | r ) ( t | h | i | s ) \_/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \_/You can learn all about figlets and create your own by visiting
. .' :`...' `.,' ' `. ' .**. ; ; ': ` ``:`****,' .' : ..::. ``**":.'' `. The examples so far have .: `: ; `,' : been pretty basic, but there `: ` : ; are ASCII artists who produce : : : ; some pretty amazing images. : : : .: : : :..,' ``::. `....:..' ..:;'' .: . ...:::: This rose is just one example ,'''''``::::::: of the work you can sample `:::: at the Signature Museum. `::. `:: . ,. ::::' ,.. .'.' ``. :: .'.. `. ' .: :: ,'.' . .' ,' .:::::: ,.' .:::. .' .' ..:' ::: ., .;' ~ ,;::;.::'' ::.:..::' ~ ::;' :: The ASCII Art section there ,::: has pages devoted to ::. Animals, Christmas, Easter, :: Flora, Love. Misc, Music :: and People. Find it at ::http://www.mwpieter.dds.nl/sigs
Roman Messmer in Switzerland has taken ASCII art to a whole new level -- ASCII Movies. You'll enjoy watching scenes from The Matrix, Spiderman, The Terminator, Harry Potter, Nemo and others in stunning asciimation.
This next site is truly asciimazing. It's a condensed version of the original Star Wars movie, done with ASCII animation. The asciimation is achieved by displaying frames of painstakingly composed ASCII text one after the other. You MUST see this one (and of course The Death of Jar Jar.)
If you thought those were kind of nifty, you will be amazed at the ASCII images you can find at the address below. Many of them are in COLOR and incredibly detailed. Here's a sampling of what you'll find:
LG Beard's Weird Wonderful Wacky World of Ascii Art http://webpages.charter.net/lgbeard
The Great ASCII Art Library http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Marina/4942/ascii.htm
Wanna learn more about ASCII art? See the ASCII Art Dictionary
You'll find info on the various styles of ASCII art, how to create your own, and links to some other fun ASCII art pages. Have a little fun with ASCII art. It's a wonderfully rich, low-tech, and very accessible medium to express yourself!
/ _\ ___ ___ /\_/\___ _ _ / / __ _| |_ ___ _ __ / \ \ \ / _ \/ _ \ \_ _/ _ \| | | | / / / _` | __/ _ \ '__// / _\ \ __/ __/ / \ (_) | |_| | / /__| (_| | || __/ | /\_/ \__/\___|\___| \_/\___/ \__,_| \____/\__,_|\__\___|_| \/
That's all for now. I'll see you next time! --Bob Rankin