Before Facebook introduced adding image links into the comments, it was common practice to add images made out of ASCII characters into the comments section. Needless to say, the practice is now become increasingly rare on Facebook; however, you can still find such ASCII images in email signatures, forum posts, and various places online.
While once you might have had to be extremely creative and skilled to make these ASCII images, now you can simply use a software tool to parse a regular image into ASCII characters. One example of such a tool is the excellent freeware app called ‘Ascgen’.
Ascgen is basically an ASCII image generator. In simpler words, the function of the app is to take a regular digital image as input and then provide you with an ASCII character equivalent of that image.
In order to begin using the application, you must first download and install its setup ZIP archive which is sized at less than 0.2 MB. Once you have extracted the contents of the archive, you need only run the extracted EXE file to run the app – the app does not require any installation.
With the app open, you can provide it any image on your computer, and its ASCII equivalent will be shown in the main pane (see screenshot above).
You can then save the character combination for your ASCII image in a plain text file. You can also choose to have a bit of fun with the ASCII image through various modification controls provided by Ascgen.
Firstly, you can specify which ASCII characters your image is composed of. By default, the option is set to ‘auto’ but you can click on the button labeled ‘Auto’ in the menu bar to input your own characters.
Another fun tool to experiment with are folding / rotating options. You can have the image easily rotated clockwise or anticlockwise – button for these can be found towards the right of the menu bar.
“Colour Preview” is something that I found uniquely interesting that was offered by ASCII. This option lets you preview the colored output of your output, in case you went with that option. Note that colored images are stored in the XHTML in case you go with the saving-as-text option. If you want to save the results as a digital image, you get the options of GIF image output.
Finally, there are brightness and contrast settings that you can play with. For me, it is easier to refer to these settings as ‘density’ because these controls essentially let you control how populated your image is with ASCII characters.
The image is update in real time as you move around the sliders for these controls.
In conclusion, Ascgen is a nifty little tool that you can have a lot of fun with. Even if you do not intend to use ASCII images as your signatures on forums, you can get the GIF version of the ASCII image and use it yet another cool image filter to have in your arsenal.
You can get Ascgen from here.