ASCII Art Frequently Asked Questions v3.0.3.19

   Back to ASCII Art Academy

Last-changed: 2004-06-06.
Provided by the Ascii-Art Information Agency for the Usegroup: ALT.ASCII-ART.

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  \/  \/  \\__,_||_\\__,\\_//_||_||_||_\\__,    \|_\\_//
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       /_\\   \\  ((     ||   ||     __\\'||\) ||
     _/  _\\_/__)) \\__,_||_ _||_   ((_||_||_  \|_

Answers to frequently asked questions about ASCII art

Table of Contents

  1. What's alt.ascii-art?
  2. What is ASCII art?
  3. What does ASCII mean?
  4. Why do all the pictures look strange?
  5. What font do you use for ASCII art?
  6. What program do you use for ASCII art?
  7. How do I draw my own ASCII art?
  8. Can someone do me some kewl lettering?
  9. Where can I find Figlet's address?
  10. Can I copy or post that ASCII picture for myself?
  11. What way works best to ask for a picture of something?
  12. What should I know before posting to alt.ascii-art?
  13. What to NOT post to alt.ascii-art? [da roolz]
  14. Have a picture or graphic and would like it Asciified?
  15. How do I convert a picture or graphic to ASCII art?
  16. How do I put ASCII art on a webpage?
  17. What are ASCII art signature files?
  18. What is ASCII art animation?
  19. What does ObAscii mean?
  20. The ASCII Art Rough-Guide to m$.Outlook?
  21. Historacle's What types of ASCII art are there?
  22. The Ascii Art 10-Commandments

[1] What's alt.ascii-art? What's going on here?

You're probably reading this because it's been posted to news:alt.ascii-art, news:alt.ascii-art.animation or rec.arts.ascii. If you're not, jump in and take a look. In these Usenet groups people discuss ASCII art, request ASCII art, post ASCII art, post improved versions or variations of other people's ASCII art, and generally have fun.


[2] What is ASCII art?

ASCII art is any sort of pictures or diagrams drawn with the printable characters in the ASCII character set. (For a definition of ASCII, see Question 3.)

:-) Probably the most common ASCII art picture is the smiley (-: but it can get a lot more sophisticated than that.

            .-" +' "-.      Here's a small ASCII picture of
           /.'.'A_'*`.\     a snow-scene paperweight,
          |:.*'/\-\. ':|    drawn by Joan Stark:
           \:~^~^~^~^:/     If this picture looks very strange and
            /`-....-'\      you can't really tell what it is,
       jgs /          \     don't panic -- see Question 5.

People use ASCII art for a number of reasons. Here are some of them.

  • It is the most universal computer art form in the world -- every computer system capable of displaying multi-line text can display ASCII art, without needing to have a graphics mode or support a particular graphics file format.
  • An ASCII picture is hundreds of times smaller in file size than its GIF or BMP equivalent, while still giving a good idea of what something looks like.
  • It's easy to copy from one file to another (just cut and paste).
  • It's fun!

[3] What does ASCII mean?

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) 7-bit as defined in ISO-646 is a basic set of 128 numbered symbols which almost all kinds of computer can display. Here are the ones that are used for ASCII art:

    032 [space] 048 0   064 @   080 P   096 `   112 p
    033 !       049 1   065 A   081 Q   097 a   113 q
    034 "       050 2   066 B   082 R   098 b   114 r
    035 #       051 3   067 C   083 S   099 c   115 s
    036 $       052 4   068 D   084 T   100 d   116 t
    037 %       053 5   069 E   085 U   101 e   117 u
    038 &       054 6   070 F   086 V   102 f   118 v
    039 '       055 7   071 G   087 W   103 g   119 w
    040 (       056 8   072 H   088 X   104 h   120 x
    041 )       057 9   073 I   089 Y   105 i   121 y
    042 *       058 :   074 J   090 Z   106 j   122 z
    043 +       059 ;   075 K   091 [   107 k   123 {
    044 ,       060 <   076 L   092 \   108 l   124 |
    045 -       061 =   077 M   093 ]   109 m   125 }
    046 .       062 >   078 N   094 ^   110 n   126 ~
    047 /       063 ?   079 O   095 _   111 o

There are other characters in the set (with the numbers 0 - 31 and 127), but they can do bad stuff to Usenet readers, so PLEASE DON'T USE THEM in your pictures (except characters 10 and or 13 which are used to insert a new-line by a variety of Operating Systems).


[4] Why do the pictures look strange?

If one particular picture posted to this group looks faulty, but the rest of them look fine, then its most likely a problem with that particular picture, or with the poster's Usenet program. But if *all* the pictures look bad, then your Usenet reader may be set to display messages in a proportional font (see Question 5).

  • If there are a lot of almost-blank lines in the picture, then the message is probably suffering from `wrapping'. This wrapping may be being done by your newsreader; see if it has an option called `wrap long lines' or similar, and make sure it is turned off. If this doesn't work, then the wrapping was probably done by the news program of the person who sent the picture, in which case there's not much you can do -- everybody else will be seeing the same thing.
  • If there are a lot of < and > symbols in the picture, with words like HTML, FONT COLOR, B, I, and so on inside them, then the picture has been sent in HTML format and your newsreader does not understand HTML (most newsreaders don't).

[5] What font do you use for ASCII art?

ASCII art is created using a fixed-width font (like on a traditional typewriter), because this is the only way to make it portable. However, several Usenet readers now display messages in a proportional font (where different characters are different widths).

The following two lines tell you which kind of font you're using. The arrow ends up in a different place for different font types and is right most of the time:

    You are using a [Proportional] [Monospaced] font
    ................................. --^--

Also, to see what your program is doing, look at these two lines:


If they look the same length, you're using a fixed-width font and all should be ok. If the second line is longer than the first, you need to change your settings to use a fixed-width font.

  • In Netscape Messenger, this option is set in
    Edit > Preferences > Mail & Newsgroups.
  • In Outlook Express, the option is set in
    View > Options > Fonts (see Question 20)
  • In Forte Agent, the option is set in
    Options > Display Preferences > Fonts
  • and Free Agent, the option is set in
    Options > General Preferences > Fonts
  • The AOL newsreader can not, at the time of writing, display Usenet messages in a fixed-width font at all.

If all else fails, copy the text of the picture from your program and paste it into a text editor (such as Notepad). It's a hassle, but at least you'll get to see the pictures.


[6] What program do you use for ASCII art?

    You can create ASCII art in any text editor,     [jorn barger]
    such as: Notepad in Windows,
    SimpleText or BBEdit in MacOS,
    nedit, vi, vim, or pico in Unix,                   _+m"m+_
    BEd or AZ in AmigaOS, edit in DOS,                Jp     qh
    or any of the various Emacs editors.              O       O
                                                      Yb     dY
    A  'quick-start'  program  for learning            "Y5m2Y"
    is JavE, a free Java program, that can be
    obtained from:-

    Some editors have features which make them more
    suitable for  ASCII art  than others, but that is
    largely a matter of personal opinion. Features which
    are both useful for  ASCII art  and  available in many
    text editors, include the following:-

    *   Overtype, also known as overstrike: removes the need for
        you to constantly realign characters using the  Backspace,
        Space, and Delete keys. Try the  Insert key if there is one
        on your keyboard,  or  your program's Options or Preferences.

    *   Rectangular copy and paste: allows you to select rectangular
        sections of text (not just rows or parts of rows). On programs
        which have this feature, it is usually done by holding down a
        key such as Ctrl while selecting text.

    *   Find/Change: allows you to change all the characters of one
        value to another (eg: change all the ~s to "s).

[7] How do I draw my own ASCII art?

Unfortunately, there aren't many text books on the subject. :-) A good way to learn is to study how someone has made a picture. What characters are chosen and how the characters are laid out. How a texture is made.

    ########:::::::::::########   The best way to learn is to Practise.
    #########:::::::::#########   Draw your cat, your toaster, your
    ##########:::::::##########   partner, your musical instruments,
    ###########,---.###########   anything that will sit still long
    ##########/`---'\##########   enough.  Practice makes, if not
    #########/       \#########   perfect, then at least pretty good.
    ########/         \########   Whether you do small drawings (less
    #######:`-._____.-':#######   work involved) or large ones (easier
    ######::::: ( ) |::::######   to make recognizable) is up to you.
    #####:::::: ) ( o:::::#####   If you're interested in tutorials,
    ####::::: .-(_)-. :::::####   there are many available from the
    ###:::::: '=====' ::::::###   ASCII-art Documentation Archive.
    A good way to begin drawing is to      \`"-.
    type a row of spaces for however        )  _`-.
    wide you want your picture, and        ,  : `. \
    then copy this row and paste it        : _   '  \
    for however many rows high you         ; *` _.   `--._
    think the picture will get.            `-.-'          `-.
    Turn Overtype on and place the           |       `       `.
    cursor  somewhere in the middle          :.       .        \
    and begin drawing. This can save         | \  .   :   .-'   .
    using  Delete, Backspace, Enter          :  )-.;  ;  /      :
    and Space-bar keystrokes.                :  ;  | :  :       ;-.
    Saving this empty  `canvas' as a         ; /   : |`-:     _ `- )
    read-only file for future use can     ,-' /  ,-' ; .-`- .' `--'
    save you even more time later.        `--'   `---' `---' bug

Another method is by tracing a picture either onto clear-plastic and sticking it onto the screen then opening an editor to trace under or using an editor which allows the loading of a background image to trace over, a process known as `water-mark'.

You can also modify existing art. Take a piece of art you think could be improved. Make a copy. Now work on it. When you are good at that, try to improve a really good pic. Then see if you can fix a damaged file. Now take some small pics and put them together into a big composite image.

When drawing ASCII art be aware that there are a few characters that differ in size, shape and position among fonts:

' apostrophe -- tilts southwest-northeast or vertical
^ caret -- differs in size and shape
~ tilde -- appears in the middle or top
I aye -- straight line in sans-serif, with strokes in serif, try using the vertical bar (|) instead.
# hash -- hash symbol on most, currency on some old computers.


[8] Can someone do me some kewl lettering?

There is a program called Figlet which does that sort of thing automatically -- you type in `Jane Smith', and you get back

        ___              __,
       ( /              (          o _/_ /
        / __,  _   _     `.  _ _  ,  /  /_
      _/_(_/(_/ /_(/_  (___)/ / /_(_(__/ /_

in this and a whole lot of other fonts (see Question 9). The ASCII art text produced by Figlet can be quite stunning, so try it first before asking for help from the newsgroups.

IF, however, Figlet doesn't produce the kind of results you want, THEN post to alt.ascii-art or rec.arts.ascii with your request and ensure that you include:

  • that you have already tried Figlet or don't have access to it otherwise you will probably just get told to use it.
  • a description of the kind of lettering you want, along with any other symbols or logos which you would like incorporated into it.

[9] Where can I find Figlet?

The Figlet home page is at:- and links to the FTP site:- where you can download versions of the program or source-code for many different platforms.

You can run Figlet on the Web by going to one of the following sites and choosing your text and options on the Web page. Different sites offer different options (e.g. multiple fonts at once, justification, and limited line length). Some of these sites also provide an e-mail Figlet service for people with browsers which don't support forms.


[10] Can I copy or post that ASCII picture for myself?

      / \                     Don't assume that if somebody posts
      | |                     something to a Usenet group, that gives
      |.|                     you the right to use it however you like,
      |.|                     copyright laws still apply.
      |:|      __             For more information, see the article:-
    ,_|:|_,   /  )            Copyright Myths FAQ:
      (Oo    / _I_             `10 big myths about copyright explained'
       +\ \  || __|           in news:news.announce.newusers.
          \ \||___|
            \ /.:.\-\         It is also available at:-
             |.:. /-----\
             /   |:<_T_>:|    Generally, ASCII artists don't mind
            |_____\ ::: /     if you copy their pictures and
             | |  \ \:/       re-post them or put them on your own
             | |   | |        Web site, as long as you don't
     [nosig] \ /   | \__      make any money out of them.
             / |   \____\
    Here are a few important considerations:-
  • If the picture contains a few letters in one corner which don't seem to be part of the picture, they're the artist's initials. DO NOT remove these initials -- would you cut away the part of a Van Gogh painting containing his name? Leaving the initials on is a small price to pay for being able to use the picture for free.
  • If you're going to use a picture in your signature file, or in a place (such as a log-in screen) which means you're going to be using it a lot, you should really e-mail the artist (or post to the newsgroup, if you don't know their address) and ask for permission, because otherwise people may get the mistaken impression that you were the one who drew the picture.
  • If you find a picture you want to use, or post, but it doesn't have initials on it, a common method of marking has been to use the tag: Unknown. More recently the tag: [nosig] has been used.
As for posting other people's ASCII art,
    after a discussion in news:alt.ascii-art       _     ___
    the following rules were agreed upon:         #_~`--'__ `===-,
    1.  If an ASCII ART picture has initials      `.`.     `#.,//
        on it, leave them on when posting it      ,_\_\     ## #\
    2.  If an ASCII ART picture doesn't have      `__.__    `####\
        initials on it,  mention  that  you            ~~\ ,###'~
        didn't  draw  it  when  posting  it.              \##'
    3.  If somebody  posts a picture without                  [nosig]
        initials and you have an original copy
        with initials on, feel free to re-post the original version.
        *   The re-post ought not to be taken personally, as we all
            know that ASCII art often loses proper credits.
            Responses to the re-post are not necessary.

One contributor, name of Krogg, suggested the following:

  1. Ultra polite:...ya make yer own ascii and use it.
  2. Very polite:...Ya contact the author and ask if ya can use it...
  3. polite:...Ya use it but you keep the Credits in there like they should be.
  4. rude:...Ya use it and strip credits.
  5. Very rude:...Ya use it and claim that it Is _Your_ very own creation...

You choose ... I think the default choice is #3 but you should make up yer own mind....


[11] What way works best to ask for a picture of something?

Give your request the subject: "REQ:" or "[req]" Whatever you're looking for a picture of, in the message describe more exactly what you're looking for. Generally, the more specific you are, the more likely you are to get some response.

If you just say something like: "can someone draw me a fish, please" then you may not get many replies, because people may not know what size or feel they're wasting their time by drawing something you won't want. If you don't have Web access, mention this fact, otherwise you may get replies consisting only of URLs for the kind of pictures you're looking for.

If someone is rude back to you directly, then please be patient, since it may just be a troll trying to wind you up.

        .'  ))  __-:!:-                If you have a picture
          .'  .'  ))                   and want it Ascii-fied
        ((__,'  .'  .ASCII! -:!:-      see Question 14 and 15.
        -:!:- ((__,'^*

[12] What should I know before posting to alt.ascii-art?

It doesn't matter if your ASCII art isn't particularly good; we'd like to see it anyway. We won't be rude about it (although you'd better tell us what it is, or we might ask :-), but if it shows potential, you may find that other people will `re-diddle' it -- change a few characters, make it a bit better, and re-post it.

HOWEVER, there are a few things you should check before you post to news:alt.ascii-art any piece of ASCII art (see also Question 13).

  • Are you sending it as PLAIN TEXT? Turn off "send MIME message" and select "PLAIN TEXT only".
  • Is it under 72 characters wide? Most news readers can only show lines which are under either 72, 76, or 80 characters wide, so if your picture is wider than 72 characters it may get wrapped [see Question 4]. Also remove any unnecessary space characters from the end of each line of the picture, to prevent lines from being too long (and getting wrapped) without your realizing.
  • If it IS over 72 characters wide? Then a warning in the subject line [wide:110] or whatever the original picture width and Check Your Post Output Line-Wrap settings. [for Outlook see Question 20] Previous versions of this FAQ used a system to prefix posts such as: [pic] [info] [req] [big] which may be used as a guide when providing warnings.
  • Have you used any TAB characters or Control Codes? Inserting control codes (ASCII characters 0 to 31) in a picture can sometimes achieve interesting effect on your computer screen or news reader, such as reversing text or changing its colour. DO NOT post any of these pictures to news:alt.ascii-art, post to instead for two reasons:-
    1. the effects that the control codes have on your news reader are almost certainly going to be different from those on the thousands of other news readers that other people use
    2. on some news readers, control codes can cause messed up displays, messages not appearing, or (in some cases) the news reader crashing.
  • If your first line starts with one or more spaces, stick a dummy line (such as -- or .) above it, to prevent the spaces from being ignored by your news program (this only applies to some news programs, and only to the first line of the message).

If you're not sure about whether your message will turn out ok, post it to a test group (such as news:alt.test or news:misc.test) first and make sure that you can read it ok, also using a different newsreader, if you can.

[See Question 10 for advice on posting someone else's ASCII art.]


[13] What to NOT post to alt.ascii-art? [da roolz]

[13.1] ASCII art is a very simple medium.

             /\       /    /\  /   /            /\  /\   /
             \/\ \   /\    \/\ \/\ \   \  \  __ \/\ \/_ /\
              \   \/   \ o  \    /  \/  \  \     \   \    \
            _  _                                         _  _
      ___ (~ )( ~)   The following List of Items       (~ )( ~) ___
     /   \_\ \/ /      should NOT be posted to          \ \/ /_/   \
    |   D_ ]\ \/         the Usenet groups:-             \/ /[ _G   |
    |   D _]/\ \                                         / /\[_ G   |
     \___/ / /\ \   news:alt.ascii-art                  / /\ \ \___/
     mark (_ )( _)  news:alt.ascii-art.animation       (_ )( _) JavE
            ~  ~    news:alt.ascii-art.endless.blabla    ~  ~


NOTE: supports posting of ASCII software tools or fonts (in ZIP format) and binary images of ASCII or other FontSet (in GIF format) and any other ASCII art related material, but no Spam, in relation to discussions in the alt.ascii-art newsgroups. Use the subject header: [abpa] for easy identification.

-= List of Items =-

  • Binaries, Trojans, Zombies, Virus, Spam.
  • ANSI,`extended ASCII' or `high ASCII', and non-Western font art. Post it to news:rec.arts.ascii (see Section[13.2]). Many computer systems have an extended character set of 256 or more characters, based on the ANSI, Unicode or BIG5 character sets and having the first 128 characters possibly identical to ASCII. These characters should not be sent to news:alt.ascii-art because many computer system types do not display them properly, even those that do, do not display them in a standard way, for example, the Windows ANSI character set is different to the Macintosh ANSI character set. Capture and send a GIF of it to or put it on a Web page and post a reference to it to news:alt.ascii-art.
  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language) which Web pages are written in can be read by some Usenet readers, particularly those built-in to Web browsers, allowing colours and animations in ASCII art, however, few newsreaders support it and to many appears as a jumble of <TAGS> and are totally unrecognizable, If you have a picture which uses HTML for a particular feature such as colors or animation, put it on a Web page and post the URL address of the page to news:alt.ascii-art.
  • JAVA, JavaScript, Flash, GIF or whatever animated ASCII art. This relies, not only on the newsreader being able to display HTML, but also being able to run Java or JavaScript. Put it on a Web page and post the address to news:alt.ascii-art.animation and news:alt.ascii-art
  • Proportional Font ASCII art screws up on many readers' displays Post it to news:rec.arts.ascii (see Section[13.2]). Send a GIF of it to or put it on a Web page and post a reference to it to news:alt.ascii-art

Finally, do not use any control codes, non-ASCII characters, or word-processor-type formatting in your postings. These are particular to your editor or computer system they will almost certainly not have the intended effect on the systems the rest of us use (they may even crash some Usenet readers).

[13.2] What can I post to rec.arts.ascii?

          /\  /   /     /\  /\   /  /    /\  /   /
          \/_ \/  \     \/\ \/_ /\  \/\  \/\ \/\ \   \  \
           \   \/  \/ o  \   \    \   / o \    /  \/  \  \

The official charter for rec.arts.ascii, as sent in the newsgroup control message, is:

The group news:rec.arts.ascii will be an appropriate group for postings to include, but not be limited to, the following:

      o  All forms of ASCII art including, but not limited to:
         -  Standard ASCII art.
         -  Animations.
         -  ANSI color graphics.
      o  Discussion about pieces of art.
      o  Requests for specific pieces of art, and their fulfilment.
      o  Questions and answers covering:
         -  Creating and viewing ASCII art.
         -  Locating FTP sites for ASCII art and related files.
      o  Discussion about artists in the field.

rec.arts.ascii is a moderated group meaning that all posts are reviewed before being sent to the group. That work is done by a robo-moderator which filters Spam and checks the posts have the correct format before approving them. It can also target a specific poster's traffic for human moderator approval.

Subjects must be tagged either:

      [PIC] for pictures
      [REQ] for requests for others to draw pictures
            (people replying with pictures change the tag to [PIC])
      [DIS] for general ascii art related discussion and replies.
    [ADMIN] for the moderator to post important information.

- for concise up-to-date list of permitted subject tags
- and usage before posting.

The robo-mod also checks that the posts are in PLAIN TEXT only, that line length is set to LESS than 80 characters UNLESS the phrase [long lines] is in the BODY of the post, when the LIMIT is then raised to 200 characters.

Cross-posting is permitted provided that:
- it is to no more than three groups
- the followup-to header is set to only one group.
Cross-posting to other moderated groups is NOT permitted.


[14] I have a picture and I would like it Asciified?

In this case, post a request to news:alt.ascii-art asking for someone to `asciify' it, but


to save downloading time for people reading the messages, if possible give the URL (Web address) of the picture instead.

If you saw the picture on a Web page, you can find out its URL by right-clicking on it (on the Macintosh, right-clicking, Ctrl-clicking, or holding down the mouse button) and selecting "Open this image" (or its equivalent for your Web browser), then copy the URL from the Location bar to your news program (make sure you copy it exactly).

If the picture is not on a Web site anywhere, put it up on your own site (if you have one), or get a friend to put it up on their site, and post the URL to alt.ascii-art. If you can't do this, post your request to the newsgroups and wait for someone to reply, then post the picture to or e-mail to them.


[15] How do I convert a picture to ASCII art?

[15.1] Programs

There are computer programs available which convert graphics files of a variety of formats (often GIF) to ASCII art. They go by names such as ascgif, gifa, gifscii, and gif2ascii. Do a Web search for any of these programs to find places where you can download them.


Many think that you just put a GIF into a converter program and out comes a perfect ASCII pic. Here are some things you can do to improve the chances of getting a good conversion:-

  • Use an 8 bit grey scale or color image instead of a 2 bit B&W.
  • Use an image with a wide, even distribution of tones.
  • Keep it simple, like a face or close-up of an object.
  • Avoid busy backgrounds. Generally avoid bright backgrounds.
  • Use an image that is tightly cropped, without a lot of waste.
  • Be prepared to quickly run through a series of conversions, you will probably not like 9 to 11 out of 12.
  • It helps to do touch-up work on the converted picture, concentrate on the focal points and important areas.

[15.2] Tracing

Another method is by tracing a picture, either onto clear-plastic and sticking it onto the screen then opening an editor to trace under or using an editor which allows the loading of a background image to trace over, a process known as "water-mark".

[15.3] Image2html

There are computer programs and web-servers available which convert graphics files of a variety of formats (often GIF) to HTML colored TEXT art for use on web-pages. Do a quick search on your favourite web search-engine.


[16] How do I put ASCII art on a webpage?

HTML, the language used in Web pages, can display ASCII art using the "pre-formatted text" tags <PRE> </PRE> like this:-

    <TITLE> Ascii art on a webpage
       :      __                                  :
       :   =='_))  __-:!:-     (your ascii here)  :
       :     ,.' .'  ))-:!:-                      :
       :    ((_,'  .'-:!:-                        :
       :   ~^~~~^~~^~~~^~                         :

HTML can be used to add special effects such as colours, font size, and blinking text. For full instructions on how to do this see:-


[17] What should I know about signature files?

A signature file (or `sig' for short; not to be confused with the initials added to an ASCII picture) is a small, personalized text file which an e-mail or news program can add to the end of every message a person sends -- the equivalent of a letterhead for dead tree (paper) mail (or snail-mail). Usually it contains little more than the person's name, organization and e-mail address, maybe an inspirational quote of some sort and some people like to incorporate ASCII art into their signature files as well.

        _ _      _    _ _  _ ___ ___           \|/ ____ \|/
       | | | ___| |  (_) \| | __/ __|           @~/ ,. \~@
       |_  _|___| |__| | .` | _|\__ \          /_( \__/ )_\ Mike
         |_|    |____|_|_|\_|___|___/[Figlet]     \__U_/    Jittlov

The lack of importance in relation to global warming, violence in society, and so on, can be the subject of heated arguments. To be brief, (almost) no-one will complain if your signature file is four lines long or fewer -- and it is quite possible to draw good ASCII pictures which are that small.

        (@) (@)    `) There are a lot of web-pages on this with )
       ^  < >  ^    (   google search ascii sig.         _______)
          ===        `----Richard James-----------------'

Some e-mail/news programs don't allow you to have a signature file which is longer than four lines, while others just complain. Five or six lines may be acceptable, but any longer, and you're starting to take the risk that your signature will be longer than some of your e-mail messages; this wouldn't really make sense on paper, so it isn't really acceptable in cyberspace either. The exception is in messages posted to news:alt.ascii-art itself -- we're used to seeing long sigs, so we won't complain.


But, no matter what the length of your signature, make sure it's fewer than 72 characters wide, otherwise it may end up a horrible mess (see Question 8).


[18] What is ascii-animation?

An animated image produced by a sequence of changing ASCII pictures. The speed will depend on the system you are using.

     o   \ o /  _ o         __|    \ /     |__        o _  \ o /   o
    /|\    |     /\   __\o    \o    |    o/    o/__   /\     |    /|\
    / \   / \   | \  /)  |    ( \  /o\  / )    |  (\  / |   / \   / \

Ascii-Animation transports vary a lot. The earliest known portable types used the Control-Codes of the (often .VT or .ANS) terminal screens for either `paging' or `direct cursor addressing'. Sometimes found as c-code in .sigs, which, when compiled and run produce moving patterns or images.

                      o         _        _            _
           _o        /\_      _ \\o     (_)\__/o     (_)
         _< \_      _>(_)    (_)/<_       \_| \      _|/' \/
        (_)>(_)    (_)           (_)      (_)       (_)'  _\o_

Most Web Ascii-Animation uses Java or Javascript.

To find out how to animate ASCII art using JavaScript, see:-

To find out how to animate ASCII art using Java, see:-


[19] What does ObAscii mean?

ObAscii = Obligatory Ascii
Obligatory: [adj] compulsory (of a ruling) having binding force
Ascii: [slang] ascii-art picture

A funny way to remind people to put a drawing in their post.

This means an ascii in every post! (especially off-topic threads) Failure to comply can result in flaming! This implies that if you don't include an ascii in your post you deserve to get flamed!

    The concept of ObAscii has been around since the creation of the
    usenet group news:alt.ascii-art and it's purpose is to provide some
    on-topic content to an otherwise off-topic posting.

    *NOT* The 1st ever! ObAscii :
    From: Matthew Thomas 
    Date: Thu, 08 Oct 1998 13:50:09 +1300
    Organization: University of (opinions are my own)

            ,' \                 [snip - 3rd party flame ]
            ` |                  BOLLOCKS!!!
            J |
            J L                  I am staying out of this as much as
            | | .  ,             possible, Colin, because I really ...
            | | `v_L.'
           // ,>'--\'_           :.
           \`' \ - /-.           [snip - rant/rave]
           /   /`""|             :.
            ),'    `-
           (    ,-'  \           Anyway,  I think a lot of this
            ) ,' ,'   h          flaming would decrease if everyone
           / /  /     `)--..     was required to post a (different)
           \/  /       \  <)     obligatory ASCII pic in each message
            <        ,  L<'      -- at the very least, it would slow
            F/     _/  ,'        the flames down.
            L   ,-'     \
            |         ___L       So, to start the trend, here's my
           /         (  F
          J      ___,'  L        ObAscii: the Statue of Liberty.
          |    ,'       |
          F  ,'         |
         (_,--..__  mt-2|_
        ,'        `"`--.._\
      ,' /                 \
     /                     (_
    [snip - .sig of Matthew Thomas]

[20] The ASCII Art Rough-Guide to m$.Outlook?

Microsoft's Outlook Express program has a number of flaws, including
- deleting spaces from the beginning of lines, and
- inserting the word `file://' in unexpected places
which make it very difficult when using it for ASCII art. Whether these are bugs or features we don't know and a registry patch to fix some of the flaws in Outlook Express is available from the ADA.

How to get rid of blue-lines in OE5:

  1. Press the decode button twice when viewing a blue-struck image. Because, after ROT13, OE will not parse links and so 2 x ROT13 returns everything back to normal, but without the blue lines.
  2. Create a button in your toolbar so you can do it quickly.

    In OE 5.5-6.0 the URL parsing code is slightly better and doesn't foul as many images as previous versions.

How to stop Ms.Outlook giving wrapped output or the ascii-art you are sending is wider than 72 characters:

  1. Tools menu
  2. Options
  3. Send
  4. Both of these Mail and News format
  5. Plain text settings
  6. Automatically wrap text at |____|

How to set your Outlook Express 6 to view ASCII art correctly:

  1. On the TOOLS menu, click OPTIONS
  2. Select the READ tab
  3. International settings
  4. "Use default encoding for all incoming messages" [tick]
  5. Set the FONTS to display as western european. set both the PROPORTIONAL font and FIXED-WIDTH font to LUCIDA CONSOLE, and FONT SIZE to SMALLER
  6. Click OK, then OK again.

How to set your Outlook Express 5 to view ASCII art correctly:

  1. On the TOOLS menu, click OPTIONS
  2. Select the READ tab
  3. Click the FONTS button near the bottom of the box
  5. Click OK, then OK again.

How to set your Outlook Express 4 to view ASCII art correctly:

  1. On the TOOLS menu, click OPTIONS
  2. Select the READ tab
  3. Click the FONTS button near the bottom of the box
  5. Click OK, then OK again.

NOTE : If LUCIDA CONSOLE is not available as a font, pick another from the list of available FIXED-WIDTH fonts.

    Examples of fixed-width fonts        1.   ANDALE MONO
    commonly available with  2.   COURIER NEW
                                         3.   LUCIDA CONSOLE
                                         4.   LUCIDA SANS TYPEWRITER
                                         5.   OCR A EXTENDED

If you have followed the above steps correctly, you should now be able to view and create ASCII art as it should be.


[21] Historacle: from the old-old FAQ v1.2 March 14, 1994

What types of ascii-art are there?

  • Linedrawing - like stickmen
  • Lettering - like Figlet does
  • Grey scale pictures - These create the illusion of grey shades by using letters for their light emitting value. Here is an example of how they break down by light intensity: (Jorn Barger's light value scale)
                        Darker    .'`,^:";~    Lighter
               bright    /|\      -_+<>i!lI?     /|\      dark
              letters     |       /\|()1{}[]      |     letters
                 on               rcvunxzjft               on
                dark      |       LCJUYXZO0Q      |      bright
             background  \|/      oahkbdpqwm     \|/   background
                        Lighter   *WMB8&%$#@   Darker
  • 3-D images - Can be viewable by people with similar vision in both eyes. You try to focus as if you are looking at the back of the monitor. The image should pop into focus and create a 3-D illusion. Other 3-D images are viewed by putting your nose on the monitor glass.
  • Geometric Article - Text is formed into meaningful shapes.
  • Picture Poem - A geometric article that is also a poem.
  • Page Making - Text and graphics are intermixed, as in a magazine.
  • Picture Story - A story told with accompanying ASCII pictures.
  • Color - You can view color ASCII pics, if you have a color screen and 'ANSI' color compatible software, or Web access using HTML.
  • Color Graphics - You can view color ASCII pics if you have color
  • Animation
  • Color Animation
  • Scroll Animation - This is an animation that is made to be viewed by scrolling down. The image plays out as the screen is redrawn with the next 'page' of the image.
  • Overstrike Art - It contains carriage returns without line feeds at times. The print head can overstrike a line on the paper that has already been printed on. This allows for darkening, and for placing different characters at the same place on the paper. This kind of art is obviously only printed.


           /  _  _|                  1. Thou shalt read the FAQ.
          (\'('\/')                  2. Thou shalt not remove the
    ______/(    >(__                     initials from any ASCII art.
   /`-    \ \_=__| `\                3. Thou shalt not claim ownership
  /       /__(  _____\  _____            of someone else's ASCII art.
 /_ \.____    ,"     "."     ",__    4. Thou shalt read the FAQ.
|    /   _\__/_       -       /  \   5. Thou shalt ask permission
\/      /____  \ASCII ART FAQ ///        before using someone else's
 )     / /   \__\     -        |         ASCII art.
 '-.__|_/    ///| I      VI    |     6. Thou shalt not sell someone
      \_     |        |        |         else's ASCII art.
        |    |   II      VII   |     7. Thou shalt read the darn FAQ.
         \   |        |        |     8. Thou shalt not post someone
         /   |  III      VIII  |         else's ASCII art without making
         \   |        |        |         clear that you didn't make it.
          \_ |   IV      IX    |     9. Thou shalt not assume that
            \|        |        |         ASCII art isn't art at all.
             |    V      X     |    10. Thou shalt read the FAQing FAQ.

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