ASCII = A = ASCIIbetical order

ASCII art n.

The fine art of drawing diagrams using the ASCII character set (mainly |, -, /, \, and +). Also known as `character graphics' or `ASCII graphics'; see also boxology. Here is a serious example:

    o----)||(--+--|<----+   +---------o + D O
      L  )||(  |        |   |             C U
    A I  )||(  +-->|-+  |   +-\/\/-+--o -   T
    C N  )||(        |  |   |      |        P
      E  )||(  +-->|-+--)---+--|(--+-o      U
         )||(  |        |          | GND    T
    o----)||(--+--|<----+----------+

    A power supply consisting of a full wave rectifier circuit
    feeding a capacitor input filter circuit

And here are some very silly examples:

  |\/\/\/|     ____/|              ___    |\_/|    ___
  |      |     \ o.O|   ACK!      /   \_  |` '|  _/   \
  |      |      =(_)=  THPHTH!   /      \/     \/      \
  | (o)(o)        U             /                       \
  C      _)  (__)                \/\/\/\  _____  /\/\/\/
  | ,___|    (oo)                       \/     \/
  |   /       \/-------\         U                  (__)
 /____\        ||     | \    /---V  `v'-            oo )
/      \       ||---W||  *  * |--|   || |`.         |_/\

               //-o-\\
        ____---=======---____
    ====___\   /.. ..\   /___====      Klingons rule OK!
  //        ---\__O__/---        \\
  \_\                           /_/

There is an important subgenre of ASCII art that puns on the standard character names in the fashion of a rebus.

+--------------------------------------------------------+
|      ^^^^^^^^^^^^                                      |
| ^^^^^^^^^^^            ^^^^^^^^^                       |
|                 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ |
|        ^^^^^^^         B       ^^^^^^^^^               |
|  ^^^^^^^^^          ^^^            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^      |
+--------------------------------------------------------+
             " A Bee in the Carrot Patch "

Within humorous ASCII art, there is for some reason an entire flourishing subgenre of pictures of silly cows. Four of these are reproduced in the examples above, here are three more:

         (__)              (__)              (__)
         (\/)              ($$)              (**)
  /-------\/        /-------\/        /-------\/
 / | 666 ||        / |=====||        / |     ||
*  ||----||       *  ||----||       *  ||----||
   ~~    ~~          ~~    ~~          ~~    ~~
Satanic cow    This cow is a Yuppie   Cow in love

Finally, here's a magnificent example of ASCII art depicting an Edwardian train station in Dunedin, New Zealand:

                                  .-.
                                 /___\
                                 |___|
                                 |]_[|
                                 / I \
                              JL/  |  \JL
   .-.                    i   ()   |   ()   i                    .-.
   |_|     .^.           /_\  LJ=======LJ  /_\           .^.     |_|
._/___\._./___\_._._._._.L_J_/.-.     .-.\_L_J._._._._._/___\._./___\._._._
       ., |-,-| .,       L_J  |_| [I] |_|  L_J       ., |-,-| .,        .,
       JL |-O-| JL       L_J%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%L_J       JL |-O-| JL        JL
IIIIII_HH_'-'-'_HH_IIIIII|_|=======H=======|_|IIIIII_HH_'-'-'_HH_IIIIII_HH_
-------[]--------------_----\.=I=./----_-----------------------
 _/\_  ||\\_I_//||  _/\_ [_] _/_L_J_\_ _ _/\_  ||\\_I_//||  _/\_  ||\
 |__|  ||=/_|_\=||  |__|_|_|   _L_L_J_J_   |_|_|__|  ||=/_|_\=||  |__|  ||-
 |__|  |||__|__|||  |__[___]__--__===__--_______|  |||__|__|||  |__|  |||
IIIIIII[_]IIIII_IIIIIL___J__II__|_|__II__L___JIIIII_IIIII_IIIIIIII_
 \_I_/ [_]\_I_/_ \_I__\II/\_\I/_/\II/_\_I_/ _\_I_/_ \_I_/ _
./   \.L_J/   \L_J./   L_JI  I[]/     \I  IL_J    \.L_J/   \L_J./   \.L_J
|     |L_J|   |L_J|    L_J|  |[]|     ||  |L_J     |L_J|   |L_J|     |L_J
|_____JL_JL___JL_JL____|-||  |[]|     ||  ||-|_____JL_JL___JL_JL_____JL_J

There is a newsgroup, alt.ascii-art, devoted to this genre; however, see also warlording.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

There should be a clear distinction between two different kinds of ASCII art.

The examples in from The Jargon File are the traditional ASCII art, crafted by hand on text editors or even specialized programs (yes, someone writes that kind of stuff). The simplest example would be a smiley.

On the other hand, there are programs that will turn pictures into ASCII art. Those are further subdivided in two. The first ones start with two colour images and try to reproduce the shapes there with ASCII characters, like that on Cappie's writeup. The other kind takes a greyscale image and converts each pixel to an ASCII character, depending on its intensity; shame you can't see the four-sheet Michelle Pfeiffer poster in my bedroom, made by a self-made program.

I guess that the former (hand made) would be the purest ASCII art form. It is surely more difficult to create and the traditional crowd prefers it to the automatically made stuff.

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