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How I Make these ASCII Pictures
and Links to Other Tutorials
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FAQ's About Creating ASCII Art:

 1) Do you need any special programs or software to make ASCII Art?
 2) You've heard of programs that make ASCII art- do they work?
 3) How long have I been creating ASCII Art images?
 4) What were my first ASCII art creations?
 5) How much time do I spend on making just one ASCII art picture?
 6) How do I make the characters "fit together"?
 7) Aren't ALL keyboard characters "ASCII"?
 8) Are there other ASCII Art tutorials online?
 9) What suggestions do I have for aspiring ASCII Artists?
10) Do I have too much free time on my hands?

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1) Do you need any special programs or software to make ASCII Art?
The answer is "NO".  All you need is a text editor with a fixed-width font. Examples of fixed-width fonts are: Courier, FixedSys, and any others where the following two lines of letters are the same length:
IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
I don't have any "secret programs" or "magic software".   I've created these ASCII pictures by using Windows notepad, my keyboard  ( and monitor obviously ), my imagination, and plenty of inspiration. That's it.  I create these pictures by free-hand.

Essentially I sit at the keyboard and type. The more I do, the faster and easier it becomes. Some images come from models (usually one of my kids' toys), pictures in books and magazines, or from my imagination.  I can only make a picture when I feel inspired to do so.  Not every day is a creative day.

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2) You've heard of programs that make ASCII art- do they work?
As you may have noticed, there are different styles of the ASCII art. I typically make the "line-ASCII art".  Others, like Allen Mullen and The Dutch Dude make "solid-style ASCII art". 
         .-.                     .-.
      .--' /                     \ '--.
      '--. \       _______       / .--'
          \ \   .-"       "-.   / /
           \ \ /             \ / /
            \ /               \ /
             \|   .--. .--.   |/
              | )/   | |   \( |
              |/ \__/   \__/ \|
              /      /^\      \
              \__    '='    __/
                |\         /|
                |\'"VUUUV"'/|
                \ `"""""""` /
                 `-._____.-'
            jgs    / / \ \
                  / /   \ \
                 / /     \ \
              ,-' (       ) `-,
              `-'._)     (_.'-`
           .                      .
          ..###'                    '###,.
         '####;       .ooooo.       ;####'
            '##,   .o8P"""""Y8o.   ,##'
             '##, 88'         '88 ,##'
              '##8'             '8##'
               '#8   ,o.   .o,   8#'
                 8 8 888; :888 8 8
                 8P '88'   '88' Y8
                 P       8      'Y
                 b      888      d
                  `8b         d8`
                   88'"88888"'88
                   8 `"""""""` 8
                    `8ooooooo8`
                    ,##'   '##,
                   ,##'     '##,
            jgs   ,##'       '##,
               .#####,       ,#####.
                  `##'       '##`
 LINE STYLE
SOLID STYLE
There are converters available to turn GIF and JPG files into ASCII art. The results are usually solid-style --but even so, you still have to do quite a bit of work with them to make them look good.   If you want to give it a go anyways, check out  conversion programs.

There is a PicText Service online that will convert GIF images into ASCII... results are OK-- not ideal.  As example, see an ASCII image of me in comparison to the original GIF graphic--->  jgs

There is *ONE* conversion program that works well--  that is FIGlet!  If you want to write your name in a fancy ASCII'fied font, this is the place to go:  FIGlet Service.   Also, check the alt.ascii-art FAQ for Internet locations  to download your own copy of the program.

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3) How long have I been creating ASCII Art images?
I've been around the USENET's <alt.ascii-art> newsgroup since November '95 and I've been making the ASCII pictures since July '96.

I first saw ASCII art in the summer of 1995 and was intrigued by it.  My immediate thought was that there were people in this world who had too much time on their hands!   Nonetheless, I was amazed at what I saw.   I tried to collect as much of the ASCII art as I could.   Then when I found Scarecrow's archive, and saw the immensity of it, I gave up and decided to try to make the ASCII images instead. 

I had been lurking on the alt.ascii-art newsgroup and saw many requests--most which were never filled.  At that point I chose to create the ASCII art pictures to respond to the requests.

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4) What were my first ASCII art creations?
My first ASCII Art creations were letters that spelled out my screen name -- and I added a little fish and a swimmer....  Here it is:
   ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooojgs
  __~~ _- ~~ -~~~-_/\O_~~ ~~__~~  _-~_ __
 /  \ ooooooooooooooooooooooooooo| |  / / 
/ /\_\ |  _ \  | |  | | | \  | | | | / /  /
\ \_   | | \ \ | |  | | |  \ | | | |/ /  <')=<
 \_ \  | |_/ | | |  | | | | \| | |   <    \`  
__ \ \ |  __/  | |  | | | |\ | | | |\ \ Spunk1111
\ \/ / | |     | |__| | | | \  | | | \ \@juno.com
 \__/  |_|     \______/ |_|  \_| |_|  \_\@aol.com
It's not very good, IMO -- but it was a start.  Playing around with making letters helped me to figure out how the ASCII characters fit together.  I don't remember how long it took to make.

I stopped making the letters once I found out about "FIGlet".  FIGlet is a program that creates the ASCII art letters for you -- all with a click of a button!   Try it yourself!   FIGlet Service

The first big picture I made was of a dragon-- it took about a week to complete-  When it was finished, I sent it to the alt.dragons ASCII art page (http://www.dragonfire.org/) - and they put it at the top!  I was "published"!  From then on, I was hooked on the ASCII art!

~ Fire-Breathing Dragon ~  7/96
                                                          ___
                                                       .~))>>
                                                      .~)>>
                                                    .~))))>>>
                                                  .~))>>             ___
                                                .~))>>)))>>      .-~))>>  
                                              .~)))))>>       .-~))>>)>
                                            .~)))>>))))>>  .-~)>>)>
                        )                 .~))>>))))>>  .-~)))))>>)>
                     ( )@@*)             //)>))))))  .-~))))>>)>
                   ).@(@@               //))>>))) .-~))>>)))))>>)>
                 (( @.@).              //))))) .-~)>>)))))>>)>
               ))  )@@*.@@ )          //)>))) //))))))>>))))>>)>
            ((  ((@@@.@@             |/))))) //)))))>>)))>>)>
           )) @@*. )@@ )   (\_(\-\b  |))>)) //)))>>)))))))>>)>
         (( @@@(.@(@ .    _/`-`  ~|b |>))) //)>>)))))))>>)>
          )* @@@ )@*     (@) (@)  /\b|))) //))))))>>))))>>
        (( @. )@( @ .   _/       /  \b)) //))>>)))))>>>_._
         )@@ (@@*)@@.  (6,   6) / ^  \b)//))))))>>)))>>   ~~-.
      ( @jgs@@. @@@.*@_ ~^~^~, /\  ^  \b/)>>))))>>      _.     `,
       ((@@ @@@*.(@@ .   \^^^/' (  ^   \b)))>>        .'         `,
        ((@@).*@@ )@ )    `-'   ((   ^  ~)_          /             `,
          (@@. (@@ ).           (((   ^    `\        |               `.
            (*.@*              / ((((        \        \      .         `.
                              /   (((((  \    \    _.-~\     Y,         ;
                             /   / (((((( \    \.-~   _.`" _.-~`,       ;
                            /   /   `(((((()    )    (((((~      `,     ;
                          _/  _/      `"""/   /'                  ;     ;
                      _.-~_.-~           /  /'                _.-~   _.'
                    ((((~~              / /'              _.-~ __.--~
                                       ((((          __.-~ _.-~
                                                   .'   .~~
                                                   :    ,'
                                                   ~~~~~
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5) How much time is spent on making just one ASCII art picture?
That first large dragon picture took a week to make--  However, as I create more ASCII art graphics, they take less time to make... Usually, I spend about 20 minutes on each... a little longer for larger ASCII art, less time for smaller ones. I can create the picture quickly if I can envision the image beforehand, . At times, I see lots of things in "ASCII"--- it's at those instances that I have a creative spurt!

Remember that this website has been a labour of love which has lasted several years-- there is no way that I could create all of these pictures in one sitting!

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6) How do I make the characters "fit together"?
Playing around with the characters on the keyboard really helps...
For instance, the following characters can create a gradual slope:
  _,.-'"^`
To change the degree of the slope, you can either add more characters, or delete... of course keeping in mind the "look" of whatever it is that you are trying to create.
a more gradual slope:
  __,,..--""^^^
a steeper slope:
       _.-" 
    .-"
Look at the individual ASCII characters-- you'll notice that they are located in various typographical locations.  The periods, commas, and underscores are at the bottom of the character space.  The hyphen, equal sign, and the plus sign are found in the middle of the space.  The apostrophe, quotation marks, and caret sign are located at the top portion of the character space.  The asterick and the tilde characters are either in the middle or the top of the space-- depending upon which fixed-width font you use.

Deciding which character to use often depends upon the desired 'feel' of a picture.   However, I've found that some of the characters are "inter-changeable", such as:

" and '
. and ,
- and =

Sometimes it is very helpful to look at the ASCII art pictures created by the different artists.  You'll be able to see just how that person handled curves, lines, slopes, and details.

I've added a really neat online ASCII art experience.  If you have Internet Explorer 4+, you can give this a try.  The text characters can be dragged  onto a grid in order to create an ASCII art image.  There is template to follow if you wish-- or just go freestyle!

ASCII ART HOW-TO --- GRID
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7) Aren't ALL keyboard characters "ASCII"?
No-- ASCII is an acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.  There are only 94 ASCII characters (95, if you include the space)-- these are the ones that are typically found on the standard American keyboard:

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
0123456789
< > [ ] { } ( ) ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * _ + | - = ; : " ' ` ? \ / . ,
(space)


 


It is possible to make non-ASCII characters with your computer.  Some examples of non-ASCII characters are the British pound-sterling, the copyright symbol, fractions, and the accented characters.  These should NOT be included in ASCII art images because they are not standard from one computer system to another.  One computer may interpret the character code accurately-- another computer may not.  Believe me, it can make for a pretty bad ASCII art image!

I know that America Online users have "macros"--  proportional-font text art.  These macros often contain non-ASCII characters.  This will work on AOL because AOL users are all using the same America Online network.   mIRC often uses the non-ASCII characters too (fixed-width  fonts though)  This works on mIRC because that is how the system is designed.  Presently, the Internet is not as standardized.  In conclusion, it is best not to use the non-ASCII characters in any international email/USENET posting.

If you have any questions about font, characters, or ASCII/non-ASCII, please refer to the alt.ascii-art FAQ or my 'What is ASCII Art?' webpage

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8) Are there other ASCII Art tutorials online?
There are several ASCII Art  tutorials available... but, IMO, they don't help unless you've tried your hand at it first. Keep in mind that ASCII artists have their own 'style'.   Accordingly, the tutorials differ in regard to the type of ASCII drawings.
Daniel Au's Tutorial
Susie Oviatt's Tutorial
Rowan Crawford's Tutorial
Normand Veilleux's Tutorial
Targon (Ed Wisniewski)'s Tutorial
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9) What suggestions do I have for aspiring ASCII Artists?
My suggestions for budding ASCII artists are the following:
  • look at as many ASCII pictures that you can
  • identify how the characters are used in those pictures
  • duplicate an "already-made" picture - 

  • copy it line by line or section by section
  • modify an existing picture
  • start small- perhaps doodle and see what it looks like, 

  • and go from there 
  • use a model or picture as a guideline
  • read the tutorials and the FAQs
  • post your pictures for critique

  • (or send them to a friend for critique)
  • keep at it and have fun... <--- most important!
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    10) Do I have too much free time on my hands?
     
    Too much free time on my hands??  That's a funny one!  As a mother of four kids, I can testify that I don't have excess time!  However, I will confess that my laundry pile is larger than it ought to be!
    Laundry time has taken a backseat to ASCII art time.   ASCII art is a hobby-- most people have hobbies.  ASCII art is mine.  Usually I create this ASCII art late at night when the kids have gone to bed.  I try not to spend my life in front of the computer.  Really!
                _  _
     hehehehe  (.)(.)
            \()  \
            _ \ '--' / _
           { '-`""""`-' }
            `"/      \"`
              \      /
             _/  /\  \_
        j   {   /  \   }
             `"`    `"`
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