Every so often you come across something really cool on the internet. Today, that cool thing was a little program that generates ASCII art.

ASCII art is a rather old form of computer art. Before computers had graphic displays, people would sometimes form little pictures by using the different characters they could generate using the keyboard. I’m sure you’ve seen “smilies”, some of the simpler of this breed, that have taken new life with instant messaging.

:-)  Smilie
;-)  Wink
:-(  Sad
:-O  Surprise

Some of them can get more complicated, but the only one I remember off the top of my head is a rose:


As these “images” grow to more that one line, they rely on the mono-spaced characteristic fonts used on these early computers. Luckily for us, Courier is still included as a basic font on almost every computer.

   /  \
  /    \
  |    |
  |    |

My attempt at a little house.

|   Minchin Web   |

Or as a text decoration.

These decorations can go even a step further, using the relative amounts of white space in the characters to form the image my shading, like you would in a black and white image. I, unfortunately, am not that skilled to produce an example, but these are the ones that I’ve always thought are really cool. (I found some cool examples at

With modern computers, this is more or less a lost art, as now, it’s so easy to open up a graphics editor, and get something that looks exactly like what you are trying to recreate. However, modern computer also allow you to use colour as you create this ASCII creations. The coolest one I’ve seen was the Linux penguin, created using a combination of these two techniques. Check it out at It’s pretty big so you might have to scroll back an forth to get the full effect.

The site that actually directed me there was another blog - Øyvind Østlund ran an article about this little program that I believe he had written that converts an image to such ACSII art (Read the full article at Another very cool picture was posted on an Italian blog at If I didn’t know better, I might think it was actually a JPEG image.

If you manage to do something really cool like this, let me know.

Update (2023-07-12): Most of the site above are dead, and so I updated links to point to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Other posts

Other posts under Random Bits


There are no comments yet. Will you add the first one?

Add a Comment

You can use the Markdown syntax to format your comment.

or alternately, send me your thoughts at minchinweb [at]

Comment Atom Feed (for this post)