Scarecrow's ASCII Art FAQ

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    1.  What is ASCII art?
    2.  What are the different kinds of ASCII art?
    3.  How do I save, 'uudecode' and view animations and color images?
    4.  How can I learn to make ascii art?
    5.  Are there any ASCII tools?
    6.  Where can I find ASCII art?
    7.  Can I get The Scarecrow's ASCII Art Archive via email?
    8.  How do I make those big letters?
    9.  Where can I get Figlet?
   10.  How can I make gray scale pictures?
   11.  Where can I get these?
   12.  What is 'anti-aliasing'?
   13.  Are there any other kinds of ASCII art?
   14.  How do I have my sig automatically added to my posts?
   15.  How do I use an animation in my plan?
   16.  How do I post to alt.ascii-art?
   17.  Who made this FAQ?

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   1.  What is ASCII art?

   Any image that can be sent over the net, received, viewed on any standard
terminal type or communications software, and can be printed.  This requires
the image be made by using only letters, numbers, and other characters such
as punctuation marks and symbols like:

               / \ | - _ + = # . , : ^ ' ` " ~ % @ < > ( ) [ ] { }

   These characters are part of the ASCII (American Standard Code for
Information Interchange) set.  The ASCII set is used for text files, which is
what is sent around the net.

   ASCII art should be viewed with a non-proportional font, also called a
'mono-spaced' font.  In other words, your software should display so many
letters per inch, regardless of the actual width of the letters.

   Most ASCII pics are viewed on a monitor that displays 80 characters across.
But some ASCII art is wider, say, 132 characters across, and is meant to be
printed out.

   Some gray scale art may look like a negative image when viewed with light
colored letters on a dark background.  This is because it is meant to be
printed with dark ink on light paper.


   2.  What are the different kinds of ASCII art?

   The first four use the standard printable set.  They are:

   o  Line drawing - Such as the light bulb above.

   o  Lettering - Large and styled, like the title "ASCII ART FAQ" above.

   o  Gray scale pictures - These create the illusion of gray shades by using
      letters for their light emitting value (assuming you are viewing light
      letters on a dark background).  Here is an example of how they break
      down by light intensity:

      Darker    .'`,^:";~
       /|\      -_+<>i!lI?
        |       /\|()1{}[]
                rcvunxzjft
        |       LCJUYXZO0Q
       \|/      oahkbdpqwm
      Lighter   *WMB8&%$#@  (light value scale from Jorn Barger)

   Here is a gray scale pic: (from [email protected])

    +WWWMMWWX;VBVIVVXRRRMMMWWWWWWWMMWWWWMMMBRRBRRRVi
    MWWWWBRMBYXVVXI+;;+iIXBWWWWWWWWWWWWWWMMBBBRBBBBMI
   XWWWWMVRXVt;t+=IXBRRYi=iVMWWWWWWMXVYIYVYVBBBBBBRBMBI
  ,MWMWBYXXRBR=.=tYVBMMWMV=+RMWWWWBXVIVRRRRViIBBRBXYMWWV
   MWRRItRBMMMM::+,+ttIVVMM;iBMWWMRRMMWWMBRRRYiVVtVVRBMY
   MWXtX=tMMMMMIt,.:=tYBMRBBIBWWMMMVIItXBMXVVI+tIiI:YRXMB
   WMBIiR+YtBBMXRBMMMMMMMBRYRMWMMMMWWXti,.;tItIIYYiRRBBMMV
 ,MWMMtIRR=,+XBBMMMMMMMMWR:;RWWBRMMWWWMBRXYXBBXYYV+VMWMBMMM
 VWMMi::BW,  IIRMMMMWWWWX+..,I+:iMMWWWWWWMMMBBRXVXYRMMWMBMMX
+WMMY::,BX   :RMBMMMWWMMRYVVXMWBXVMWWWWWWWMMBRXXXXYIRMBMMBBMR
=WMBBi:tt    tBBRBBMMMMRYtitYYVXMWWWWWMWWMMBXXVYXVi:VMMMMMMWV
 RWRV+,;,,   XBRRRBBBt,..:+t=+:..+RWWWWWMBBXVVVXXIiI:IVMMBMMMW
 IMRBRRBMB=  YXRRRBBBB,..+YBBBBV...=MWWMBBRRVVXXBYXRRBXBMMBMMMB
 tMYitIXMi    iYXXRXRBRt;.:itt=:=iXMWWWMBBRRVXXRRVRMWWMMMMMMBBB
:MR:.,:Ii      YVVXRBBBMMRRRBMWMMMMMMMMBBRXXXYY+VMXMWMBMMBBVVRI
:RY+            iVRBBBBMMMWWWMMMMMMMBBBBRRXVt.iXYRYXMBBBYItVVt
 =XVY,            ;tVRBBMMMWWWMMMMBMBBBBXVYt  iXBMWWMRVXYXMMY
  RX:,              ,,;+tIIVXRBBRXVVIIi=,.=  iYYt+;,;iYRMMXt


   o  3-D images - They 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.
      For more information, see the alt.3d group.

   See the long version for examples.

   The other kinds of ASCII images contain 'control codes' for animation and
color.  These pics have to be processed before they can be sent over the net.
This processing changes the control codes to regular 'printable' ascii
characters, so the pic can be sent as a text file.  This is called
'uuencoding'.  The file is processed back again after it is received.  This
is called 'uudecoding'.

   o  ASCII animations - You see an animated image produced by a sequence of
      changing ASCII pictures.  The speed will depend on the system you are
      using.

   o  Color - You can view color ASCII pics, if you have a color screen and
      'ANSI' color compatible software.

   Examples and ANSI escape sequences are in the long version of this FAQ.


   3.  How do I save, 'uudecode' and view animations and color images?

   You need to do the following if you want to save an animation or color
image from a newsreader, uudecode and view.  Type the name of the file where
I have 'FILENAME'.  On a Unix system, the process is usually as easy as:

   o  Press the 's' key while you are looking at the post in your newsreader
      (or while the message is selected in elm if it was mailed to you).

   o  Quit your newsreader (or elm) and go to where the file was saved.

   o  Type 'uudecode FILENAME'.  This may change the file's name.

   o  You may need to decompress the file if it has a suffix such as .Z or .gz
      (among others).  For .Z, type 'uncompress FILENAME' and for .gz, type
      'gunzip FILENAME'.

   o  Type 'cat FILENAME' and press the return.

   To slow down an animation while viewing on your Unix host, you need to type
'cat -u FILENAME'.

   If you have uudecoded a file and downloaded it to your PC, you have
to type 'type FILENAME' and press the return to view it.  If you have
uudecoded and downloaded it to your Amiga, open a large Cli/Shell and type
'type FILENAME' and press return to view it.


   4.  How can I learn to make ASCII art?

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

   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.

   See question 6 for info about the file asciitech.aa.


   5.  Are there any ASCII tools?

   Not many.  The Emacs editor offers some help, if you know how to use it.
Q-Edit is an ASCII editor with block cut and paste.  And TheDraw can do some
ANSI tricks but is limited to single screen size.  There are Unix and DOS
scripts for flipping an ASCII pic (like modasc by Ric Hotchkiss).  BBSdraw is
available for the Amiga.  As is CygnusEd which allows column editing.  And
there's the TPU editor for VAX.


   6.  Where can I find ASCII art?

   You can FTP ascii art (single pics and archives of dozens or hundreds of
images) from many sites, including these:

       >  host: mordor.ind.wpi.edu
          path: /pub/ascii/art/pictures
                /pub/ascii/art/movies

       >  host: ftp.mcs.com
          path: mcsnet.users/jorn/ascii-art

   The following is a gopher server:

       >  host: cs4sun.cs.ttu.edu
          path: /11/Art_and_Images/ASCII

   The long version of this FAQ contains a longer list of sites.

   If you need more technical info about ASCII art, get Jorn's file called
'asciitech.aa' in Jorn's ascii-art folder at his FTP site.

   His site also has many collections of ASCII art, including the big
Scarecrow's ASCII Art Archive.  The Scarecrow's archive contains hundreds of
pieces of art, special sections on sig art, bbs art, and so on.  It is listed
as 'Scarecrows.aa' in the same folder.

   There's also a file called 'MORE' which stands for Most Often Requested
Edition.  It contains the pics that people request the most on the group.  It
has pics for wishing friends a happy birthday, Star Trek, flowers, dragons,
hearts, and so on.

   You'll also find the long version of this FAQ containing complete examples
of everything discussed.


   7.  Can I get The Scarecrow's ASCII Art Archive via email?

   Yes.  If you do NOT have FTP available, you can get filos by email.
To receive | send email to [email protected] with | in the subject line.
          \|/                                     \|/
Latest short version of the FAQ                REQUEST SHORT FAQ
Latest long version of the FAQ                 REQUEST LONG FAQ
Most Often Requested Edition (MORE)            REQUEST MORE
The Scarecrow's ASCII Art Archive X.0          REQUEST SAAA X.0
The Scarecrow's Funnies (humor collection)     REQUEST FUNNIES
The Best of the Scarecrow's Sig Gallery        REQUEST SIGS
The Best of the Scarecrow's BBS Gallery        REQUEST BBS


   8.  How do I make those big letters?

   You can make lettering like the above title "ASCII ART FAQ" by hand, or
use a program called Figlet.  With Figlet, the letters you type are
automatically turned into big letters.  There are over 30 fonts for use with
Figlet.  The long FAQ contians many examples.  Some host systems also have a
program called Banner.


   9.  Where can I get Figlet?

   You can FTP Figlet from:

       >  host: ftp.isu.edu
          path: pub/figlet
          This is the official site and contains the latest fonts.


   10.  How can I make gray scale pictures?

   You can make them from scratch if you are a very good ASCII artist.  An
easier way is to use a program called 'ASCGIF'.  There is also Gifscii (with
a version for the Mac), ANSIrez and GIF2ANSI for the PC.  These programs
makes an ASCII pic from any image you can convert to a GIF.


   11.  Where can I get these?

   You can FTP ASCGIF from:

       >  host: usc.edu
          path: /archive/usenet/sources/comp.sources.misc/volume30/ascgif

       >  host: wuarchive.wustl.edu
          path: /usenet/comp.sources.misc/volume30/ascgif

       >  host: ftp.uu.net
          path: /usenet/comp.sources.misc/volume30/ascgif

   You can get GIF2ANSI from:

       >   bbs: Exec-PC (414) 789-4210
                GIF2ANSI.ZIP is in the "Mahoney MS-DOS" file collection.


   12.  What is 'anti-aliasing'?

   The short, plain english explanation is that special care was taken to use
letters for their shapes.  This makes the picture or font look smoother.


   13.  Are there any other kinds of ASCII art?

   There are Picture Stories and Geometric Articles.  A Picture Story is what
it sounds like, a story told with accompanying ASCII pics.  A Geometric
Article is where text itself is formed into shapes.


   14.  How do I have my sig automatically added to my posts?

   On most Unix systems, name the file you want to be used as ".signature"
and put it in the top level of your home folder.  Your news software should
pick it up.


   15.  How do I use an animation in my plan?

   On most Unix systems, name the file you want to be used as ".plan" and put
it in top level of your home folder.  It does not work with all finger
commands.


   16.  How do I post to alt.ascii-art?

   You can post any of the above types of ASCII art on this group.  To make
it easier for us readers, put one of the following three-letter abbreviations
at the beginning of the subject line of your post:

   LIN - Standard ASCII line art.  Line pictures and large lettering.
   GIF - Gray scale image.
   BIG - Bigger than standard 80 column art, usually meant for printing.
   ANI - Animation.  Usually uuencoded.
   COL - Color.  Usually uuencoded.
   3-D - 3-D art.
   REQ - Request for a certain picture or type of picture.
   REP - Repost of a previously posted pic.
   DIS - Discussion, no pics included.
   BIN - Binaries (software like Figlet and ASCGIF).

   If someone requests a picture only days after it has been posted, and you
would like to fill that request, please email the picture to the person
requesting it.  It's better than reposting so soon.

   Most guidelines for posting apply here too.  Try to keep quoted materials
to a minimum.  One exception to the usual rules are the use of sigs.  Because
alt.ascii-art IS about ASCII art, it is within the scope of the group to post
sigs.


   17.  Who made this FAQ?

   It is written by your old friend, the Scarecrow with info gratefully
received from the following nice people:

   Jorn Barger
   Rowan Crawford
   Normand Veilleux
   Judy Anderson
   Steven M Sullivan
   Glenn Chappell
   Michael A Godin
   Lars Aronsson
   Chevalier
   Q Alex Zhao
   Dov Sherman
   Matt Ryan
   A Rich
   Ric Hotchkiss
   Glen A Miller
   Jonathan H S Peterson
   [email protected]
   Matt Messina
   Colin Douthwaite