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Fractal ASCII Art
ASCII is short for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It's one of the earliest input/output formats for computer systems, and one of the many predecessors to Unicode, which still uses ASCII for its first set of characters for compatibility reasons.

ASCII Art is the use of these characters in a way that makes pictures. The usual method treats the characters as pixels (best done with a monospaced font, and in a plain-text file) and placing the characters into the appropriate spots line by line.

Some can even simulate different shades by using characters that take up different amounts of white space (hyphens and underscores take up little, and represent light shades, while pound and percent signs take up a lot, and represent dark shades).

Originates from the typewriter.

Often seen in online game walkthroughs, like those at GameFAQs. Message boards and software crack teams will have this as well.

As with any art, the quality of a piece of ASCII art depends on the skill of the artist.

Compare the simplest form of this, the Emoticon. Scantron Picture is a more manual way of getting the same effect.

Psst... wanna make your own?

We don't recommend you try to actually post any on this page, unless it's really narrow. Anything more than half again the width of this picture would be screwed up by different window sizes.

Notable forms of ASCII art:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • There was, at one point, an attempt to re-create Star Wars in ASCII art. It got about a third of the way through. Here it is.


  • Informed Sources by Willard Bain, 1967, has some real ASCII art, and some pseudo ASCII art. The whole book is in the form of teletype output (all caps!) Near the end it lapses into ASCII art, showing an aerial dogfight, but then uses characters which could not have been typed by a teletype terminal, as they are not aligned, and are partial overstrikes. Not an easy book to find, though.

  • The back cover of Jaga Jazzist's album The Stix has the album credits formatted in the shape of a mountain range. (It's not true ASCII art, as it's not monospaced.)
  • This video for the Beck song "Black Tambourine" is ASCII-licious.

    Video Games 
  • The good majority of roguelikes are rendered in ASCII art, including Rogue, NetHack, and Ancient Domains of Mystery; some are using Curses API.
    • Brut@l (not to be confused with Brutal: Paws of Fury) goes a step further with this trope: characters, enemies, and objects are rendered in 3D, but are also decorated with their respective ASCII characters.
  • The credits of Portal. There are some in the source files that don't get used.
    • Calling the BBS number gives ASCII art of what turned out to be official art from Portal 2.
  • For awesome uses of ASCII art, there are modified versions of Quake and Unreal Tournament that render the graphics in ASCII.
  • This is actually how Touhou Project's yukkuris were born; the ASCII Art the original poster had used made the girls' heads look deformed, and the rest went down in infamy.
  • Dwarf Fortress, being inspired by roguelikes (and partly one itself), is made entirely in ASCII... Sort of. It doesn't actually output true ASCII characters by default, but rather uses a graphical tileset that was originally based on CP-437, the proprietary "extended ASCII" character set that Microsoft created for use with the original MS-DOS. You can tell by the fact that if you look very closely, the "smiley face" characters (☺) that are used to represent dwarves have three-pixel beards.
    • Also, the opening video is entirely done using ASCII as well.
  • Candy box! is a text-based online game that has ASCII art as its graphics. Like Dwarf Fortress, the game itself is much more extensive than the graphics would imply. Notably, most of the enemies in the first game are made of text such as "GOB" for goblins, but those in the sequel are made of proper ASCII graphics (apart from the rats in the starting cellar, which are made of the text "rat" as a Call-Back to the first game).
  • Saints Row IV At one point durring the mission where you recruit Johnny Gat, Mat Miller screws with the graphics and turns you into a toilet and then the whole game into ASCII art for the time you are in the midway point hallway.
  • Kerbal Space Program has its readme file headers in ASCII.
  • Progressbar 95: There is a piece of ASCII art that depicts Clippy saying "Hello!" in one of the readme.txt files found when searching ProgressDOS.
  • VGA Miner: If you die, you get an ASCII tombstone reading, "Here lies a brave miner. He died with his tool in his hand, for the love of sweet Miss Mimi. His Bank Account was (amount)"
  • Pyramid Builder: The graphics of the entire game are made of ASCII characters.
  • The Platform Hell game Jinsei Owata no Daibouken has graphics mostly based on an extended Japanese character set, with characters based on memes from Japanese Image Boards. Floating Platforms, for example, are drawn as [ニニニ].

  • Square Root of Minus Garfield:
    • "ASCIIfield" converts a Garfield comic into simplistic ASCII text.
    • "ASCIIfield Mark II", released a month later, is much larger and more detailed, with colored text.
    • "Jon's Dungeon" is styled after NetHack, complete with the characters and objects being represented by ASCII characters.
    • "GarfASCII" is done in colored ANSI art.

    Web Original 
  • Advent of Code is made up of ASCII art.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • In the Strong Bad Email "virus", Marzipan is turned into an ASCII art version of herself that speaks in distorted gibberish when she tries to talk.
      Strong Mad: I CAN'T SPELL YOU!
    • In "the paper", during a flashback to the day Strong Bad and the Paper met, a young Strong Bad is seen wanting to print out "that butt I made out of hyphens and dollar signs". At the end of the email, the New Paper tries to mollify Strong Bad by printing out a reproduction of said ASCII art butt.
  • monospace is a Webcomic based on this concept.
  • The Most Stupid Deaths in Super Mario 64 has an ASCII Kirby (actually the Bracket Guy) show up.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-079, a self-aware AI on a 70's era computer, will display an ASCII image of a giant X on his screen when it refuses to speak. Containment procedures recommend waiting 24 hours after this happens to speak with it again.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons had a couch gag with ASCII art.
  • Adventure Time: In "Holly Jolly Secrets", BMO printed an ASCII picture of Gunter while analyzing the Ice King's video diaries.

  • Taken to ridiculous extremes by the Japanese, who have thousands of characters in their fonts and aren't afraid to use them. 2Channel even has a whole board for it. Although technically speaking, this is Shift-JIS art, not ASCII art (look it up).
  • LUEshi, an ASCII rendering of the Super Mario World box art, is the mascot of LUE, a board on GameFAQs.
  • ''Densha Otoko'', Train Man in English, has a lot of ASCII art. It is touted as an actual, somewhat edited, stream from 2ch. Worth reading. Note that the ASCII art requires that you have the Japanese fonts installed.
  • ASCII Porn. Yes, this exists.
  • A forum Troll has several stock ASCIIs, including:
  • For April Fools' Day 2010, YouTube had a filter for at least half of the available videos named "TEXTp" which rendered different ASCII characters for different shades of a color. It was Too Cool to Live, unfortunately. VLC Media Player does have a similar effect, though.
  • /人 ◕‿‿◕ 人\ - Kyubey's perpetual smile from Puella Magi Madoka Magica has hit memetic status. It's difficult to find a Madoka-related video on YouTube that doesn't have it in any of the comments.
  • Some users of Facebook occasionally decorate their status messages with Unicode art: the Latin-1 range, stars, Japanese characters, box drawing characters, etc.
    • It's also possible to make "Unicode graffiti" using certain combining characters that stack on top of each other. When enough are stacked, they will overflow and potentially litter the text that is above them.
  • In the early '90s, Microsoft Works for DOS included a tutorial program that featured a goodly number of animated slides rendered entirely in 16-color ASCII art. Why? Because they could.

Alternative Title(s): Concrete Poetry