///ASCII art - Article

ASCII art frequently asked questions

Author: Bob Allison (can't find the original article URL)
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   1  What is ASCII art?
   2  Why use ASCII art instead of a GIF?
   3  What is ASCII art used for?
   4  What are the different kinds of ASCII art?
   5  What is the best way to view ASCII art?
   6  How can I learn to make ASCII art?
   7  Are there any ASCII tools?
   8  Where can I get ASCII tools?
   9  Where can I find ASCII art?
  10  How do I use FTP, Gopher, World Wide Web, and FTP Mail Servers?
  11  What does the Scarecrow recommend?
  12  Is it OK to copy ASCII art?
  13  How do I make those big letters?
  14  Where can I get Figlet?
  15  How can I make Gray Scale pictures?
  16  Where can I get Gray Scale converters?
  17  How can I make better Gray Scale conversions?
  18  What do those filename extensions mean?
  19  What is 'uuencoding'?
  20  How do I save, 'uudecode' and uncompress a file?
  21  How do I view animations and color images?
  22  How do I put an animation in my plan?
  23  How do I make a sig?
  24  How do I have my sig automatically added to my posts and email?
  25  What should I know about posting ASCII Art?
  26  Where is this FAQ available?
  27  Who made this FAQ?


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   /_/_  !_! !_! !_! \_! !_____/   \/  \/   !______! !_!  \_\ !_____/ |/\_

  1  What is ASCII art?

  Standard ASCII art is made with characters, such as:

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
  a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
  \ | - _ + % @ < ; ! = # . , : > ( ] / & $ ^ ' ` " ~ ) [ { } ? *

  These characters are part of the ASCII (as - kee, America Standard Code for
Information Interchange) set.  This part of the ASCII set, is called the
'printable set' (7 bits, characters 32 to 126).  There's also non-standard
ASCII art, which contain 'contral codes'.

  ASCII art is popular, with several ASCII art groups on the various
information services.  Before computers, ASCII art was made on typewriters,
teletype machines (5 bit), and was created typographically.  There are even
tee-shirts with the :-) smiley.

  2  Why use ASCII art instead of a GIF?

  ASCII art is used because:

o Standard ASCII art is the only type of graphics easily transmitted and
  instantly viewable on any terminal, emulation, or communications software.

o If you can view text, you can view ASCII art (as it is made up of standard
  text characters).  No conversion or special software required to view.
  Non-standard ASCII art (8 bit with control codes) requires that the file be
  saved and "cat'd".  See Questions 20 and 21.

o ASCII art is compact, a few K, not 20, 50, 100 or more K!

  3  What is ASCII art used for?

  ASCII art is used for many things, like:

o EDUCATION - A periodic table or molecular model for example.

o CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATION - Pictures are international.

o BBS & SERVER SCREENS - Login and logoff screens, MUDs, promos, etc.

o ENTERTAINMENT - Like a birthday 'card', holiday greetings, invitations,
  congradulatory messages, children's picture stories, etc.

o VISUAL AID - Such as a wiring diagram, floor plan, illustrated
  instructions, or flow chart, to eliminate a long involved explanation with
  a graphic.

  4  What are the different kinds of ASCII art?

  The first four use the standard printable set, and can be viewed anywhere,
anytime, on any equipment.  They are:

o Line drawing - Such as the stickmen above.  This type of image is made
  using characters for their shapes.

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

o Gray Scale picture - These create the illusion of gray shades by using
  characters for their light emitting value (assuming you are viewing light
  characters on a dark background).  For example:


  Lighter   <- viewing light characters on a dark background ->   Darker
  Darker    <- viewing dark characters on a light background ->   Lighter

o 3-D images - They can be viewed 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.  See ASCII Art
  Resources for info on where to get 3-D programs.

  Other forms of ASCII art using the standard printable set include the
following four:

o Geometric Article - Text is formed into interesting, meaningful shapes.

o Picture Poem - A geometric article that is also a poem.  See the swan in
  the examples in ASCII Art Resources and ASCII Art Reference (the Web
  version of the FAQ).

o Page Making - Text and graphics are intermixed, as in a magazine.

o Picture Story - A story told with accompanying ASCII pictures.  Created
  using ASCII art page making techniques.

  There are also non-standard types of ASCII art which cannot be viewed
immediately upon receiving.  They contain 'control codes' for color or
animation.  They must be 'uuencoded' to be posted or emailed.  For further
information, see Question 19.

  The three types of non-standard ASCII art are:

o Animation - You see an animated image produced by a sequence of changing
  ASCII pictures.  Animation speed depends on the system you are on, and
  modem speed, if used.  "ANSI" (American National Standards Institute)
  escape sequences can be found in ASCII Art Resources and ASCII Art
  Reference (the Web version of the FAQ).

o Color Graphics - You can view color ASCII pics, if you have a color screen
  and ANSI color compatible software.  Check to see if your software supports
  ANSI color, and how it is enabled.

o Color Animation - For an example of color and animation together, take a
  look at the file called "Vortex" in the Scarecrow's FTP site.

  Examples are in ASCII Art Resources and ASCII Art Reference (the Web
version of the FAQ).

  But wait, there are other kinds of ASCII art:

o Overstrike Art - It contains carriage returns without line feeds at times.
  The print head can overstrike a line on the paper that has already been
  printed on.  This allows for darkening, and for placing different
  characters at the same place on the paper.  This kind of art is obviously
  only printed.

o Srcoll Animation - This is an animation that is made to be viewed by
  scrolling down.  The image plays out as the screen is redrawn with the next
  'page' of the image.

  5  What is the best way to view ASCII art?

  For best results in viewing ASCII art, try:

o A 'non-proportional' font, also called a 'mono-spaced' font.  This is a
  font that displays the same number of characters per inch, no matter what
  the actual width of the characters.  If you are viewing with a mono-spaced
  font, the two lines below should appear the same length.


  If they don't look the same length, try another font.  Names to look for on
  various systems include: Monaco, Courier, Courier New, Video Terminal,
  System, TTY, VT100, Screen, Terminal, FixedSys, Line Printer, etc.

o A small, say, 9 point font, will help to increase the apparent resolution,
  and the illusion of gray scale images.

o Viewing from a distance of a meter or more.

o Using light characters on a dark background.  Many ASCII pictures are meant
  to be viewed light on dark.  This allows the artist more control over the
  light.  Also, you see less glare than you would from a light background.

  And in some instances:

o While most gray scale pics are made to be viewed light characters on a dark
  background, some will be made to view dark on light.  This is because they
  are meant to be printed with dark ink on light paper.  Use dark characters
  on a light background, or print them out.

o While most ASCII pics are made to be viewed on a monitor that displays 80
  characters across, some ASCII pics are wider, say, 81 to 132 characters
  across.  They are meant to be printed.  Use a small, say, 4 point type, and
  view dark on light, or print them out.

o While mast ASCII art is either ready to view, 'cat' or print, you may find
  art that has been saved as a picture in a bitmap, EPS, GIF, or other binary
  format.  These must be viewed or printed with the appropriate software.

  There are a few important things to remember when making, viewing, or
talking about an ASCII art image.  And they're obvious but almost always

o Even though different fonts may all be mono-spaced, they ARE different, and
  can make a picture LOOK different.  Some artists may mention the font the
  picture was made with.

o A font may be serif or sans-serif (serifs are the little feet on the
  characters).  The ascenders and descenders may be straight or curved.  And
  characters may be wide or narrow.

o The weight, or heaviness of characters can vary.  Serifs can make them look
  heavier.  Often effected by weight inconsistencies are symbols like:  # $ @

o Shapes can vary too:
  The more consistent shapes are:  - / \
  The more inconsistent shapes are:  ~ ^ * & | ' [ ] < > 0 l y

o Fonts from different countries may have different characters in them.
  Characters that may not appear in a font are:  ^ ` # | { } ~ \ [ ] $ @

o Different systems display text differently.  If you look at a picture on a
  terminal at a Unix site, and then bring it home and view it on a Mac, it
  will look different.  On the Mac, it will be displayed shorter top to
  bottom.  In other words, it will have a greater aspect ratio.  Even though
  it contains the same number of lines.

  See ASCII Art Resources and ASCII Art Reference (the Web version of the
FAQ) for an aspect ratio chart.

  6  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.  Diddle a GIF conversion.  Then see if you can fix
a damaged file.  Now take some small pics and put them together into a big
composite image.

  If you're working from scratch, the following may help you:

o Decide what you want.  Block out the sizes ond shapes of things so you can
  get the proportions right.  Do it now, not later, you'll save work.

o Add detail.  Concentrate on the focal point and important parts of your
  drawing.  ASCII art is low definition, so you'll have to make the pic big
  if you want detail or real smoothness.  Take a tip from master cartoonists,
  just try to suggest things, don't try to replicate them. Too much detail
  can end up looking confusing.

o One of the biggest helps is knowing how to shape things.  For example, you
  can curve a horizontal line with just:  _ - "


o Slanting vertical lines is easy.  These four line are all made with a few
  characters, like:  / , _ - ' "

           /                 ,'                ,-'                   ,_-'"
          /                ,'               ,-'                 ,_-'"
         /               ,'              ,-'               ,_-'"
        /              ,'             ,-'             ,_-'"
       /             ,'            ,-'           ,_-'"
      /            ,'           ,-'         ,_-'"

o Then there's smoothing, also called "anti-aliasing".  This is where special
  care is taken to use characters for their shapes.  With this technique, you
  can smooth out a font, or an object like the one below.  Notice how the
  sides on the object are curved using:  d b ( ) Y

                       XXXX                         d88b
                     XXXXXXXX   <- Turn this      d888888b
                    XXXXXXXXXX                   (88888888)
                     XXXXXXXX      Into this ->   Y888888Y
                       XXXX                         Y88Y

  Popular fills are:  8 M H

o Use areas of characters for patterns, tones, and contrast.  For example, in
  this flower, notice the density of the letters subtlely change to form the
  petals.  I would like to see this colorized.

              .@.                                    .
              @m@,.                                 .@
             .@m%nm@,.                            .@m@
            .@nvv%vnmm@,.                      .@mn%n@
           .@mnvvv%vvnnmm@,.                .@mmnv%vn@,
           @mmnnvvv%vvvvvnnmm@,.        .@mmnnvvv%vvnm@
           @mmnnvvvvv%vvvvvvnnmm@, ;;;@mmnnvvvvv%vvvnm@,
 `    `@mnnvv%v%v%v%%;;@mvvvvv%%;;*;;%%vvvmmmm@;;%m;%%v%v%v%vmm@'   '
           `@mnvvv%vvnnmm@'     `:;%%;:'     `@mvv%vm@'
            `@mnv%vnnm@'          `;%;'         `@n%n@
             `@m%mm@'              ;%;.           `@m@
              @m@'                 `;%;             `@
              `@'                   ;%;.             '    Top portion of a
               `                    `;%;          picture by Susie Oviatt.

  Here are a few tips, that taken together, can make an instant ASCII artist
out of anybody:

o A quick way to make a pic is to photocopy a drawing onto plastic.  Place
  the plastic over your monitor to act as a guide for placing characters.

o Ease your work by making a file full of lines of spaces.  Now copy that
  file.  Open a copy and start working.  You'll see that it's easier because
  you can now go where you want and replace the spaces with characters.  You
  have eliminated endless space bar pressing.  Remember to strip all trailing
  spaces when you're done.

o Use a mouse to move more quickly from character to character and to delete
  bunches of characters and large numbers of lines.

o To avoid variation in characters, weights, and shapes found between
  different fonts, use the following characters:  / ! ( ) ? = + - _ : ; , .

o Use 'block editing' if you can.  Some software allows for a square or
  rectangular chunk of text to be cut, copied and pasted.

o It may be better to work on your own computer (if it has more appropriate
  hardware and-ar software), and then upload it to your host.

  Also, see Jorn's "asciitech" file, available at Jorn's FTP site and
Scarecrow's FTP, Gopher, WWW sites.

  7  Are there any ASCII tools?

  Not many.  The Emacs editor offers some help, if you know how to use it.
There are a couple of bits of Emacs code in the Scarecrow's FTP site.
EmacsMouseCode let's you draw with a mouse, and EmacsFigletCode let's you use
Figlet within Emacs.
  Q-Edit and "vedit" are ASCII editors with block cut and paste.  And TheDraw
can do some ANSI tricks but is limited by RAM size.

  There are Unix and DOS scripts for flipping an ASCII pic (like "modasc" by
Ric Hotchkiss).  BBSdraw is available for the Amiga.  So is CygnusEd, which
allows column editing.  And also the TPU editor for VAX.  And then there's
"mdraw.el" for GNU Emacs 19 under X, that lets you draw ASCII with a mouse.

The best tool for creating and manipulating ASCII art is Email Effects. Click the link below for details.
Email Effects

  8  Where can I get ASCII tools?
NOTE: As of May 23, 1998, only one URL in the original FAQ was still valid:

   You can get Emacs Code at:
->  Host: ftp.wwa.com
    Path: pub/Scarecrow/Info
     URL: ftp://ftp.wwa.com/pub/Scarecrow/Info

  9  Where can I find ASCII art?

  You can FTP and Gopher ASCII art (single pics and archives of dozens or
hundreds of images).  FTP'ing is easy.  Gophering is easier.  See Question 10
for further info.  ASCII art is available from many sites, including:

o FTP Sites:

          Scarecrow's ASCII Art FTP
->  Host: ftp.wwa.com
    Path: pub/Scarecrow
     URL: ftp://ftp.wwa.com/pub/Scarecrow
          Has Scarecrow's files, SAPs, animations, color, FAQs, Figlet,
          gray scale converters, 'how-to' files, and more.

          See Question 11 for a table of all the Scarecrow's files, showing
          file name, size (uncompressed), version, name it has at the
          Scarecrow's FTP site, and the subject line for email requests.

          Jorn's FTP site
->  Host: ftp.mcs.com
    Path: mcsnet.users/jorn/ascii-art
     URL: ftp://ftp.mcs.com/mcsnet.users/jorn/ascii-art
          Has Scarecrow's files, plus other ASCII art files, and the
          technically oriented "asciitech.aa".

          Chris' FTP site
->  Host: ftp.ncsu.edu
    Path: pub/ncsu/chking/Archive
     URL: ftp://ftp.ncsu.edu/pub/ncsu/chking/Archive
          Contains all the Scarecrow's files, all of Steve Sullivan's
          files, and Gifscii for many systems.

o Gopher Servers:
NOTE: None of the gopher addresses mentioned in the original FAQ 
were still valid as of May 23, 1998.

o World Wide Web:
NOTE: None of the WWW addresses mentioned in the original FAQ 
were still valid as of May 23, 1998.

o Mailing list:
NOTE: None of the mailing lists mentioned below were verified
when this FAQ was reviewed on May 23, 1998.

            ASCII Art listserv list
-> Address: listserv@ukcc.uky.edu
   Message: subscribe asciiart

o FTP Mail Servers:

-> Address: ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com
   Message: help

-> Address: ftpmail@sunsite.unc.edu
   Message: help

-> Address: bitftp@pucc.bitnet
   Message: help

  10  How do I use FTP, Gopher, World Wide Web, and FTP Mail Servers?

  The following instructions are for most Unix based, live InterNet sites.
If you are not on a live wire, you can still access FTP sites.  See the
section below on 'How to use FTP Mail Servers'.

  If you're on a commercial service, or other non-Unix based system, ask your
sysadmin or service representative for information on obtaining files.  If you
are using InterNet software on your own computer via a PPP or SLIP connection,
I assume you don't need my instructions.

  How to read a URL (Uniform Resource Locator):

           |_|   |__________| |_____________________| |_____|
            |          |                 |               |
  Connect Method   Host Name        Folder Path      File Name

  Note: The connect method (the protocol> could also be "gopher" or "http"
(http indicates a WWW page).  Also, a URL my not have a file name at the end,
but may just point to a folder.  It may not even have a folder path, pointing
only to a site.

  WWW URLs usually end with a file having a ".html" extension.  And Web pages
can also be stored on, and accessed from, FTP and Gopher sites.

  How to FTP:

  If you have FTP at your site, and you want to FTP over to say, Chris King's
FTP site, you would, at the prompt:

o Type: ftp ftp.ncsu.edu

  Notice that "ftp" was typed twice.  The first is the command, the second
  is a port of the address.  If you're already at an FTP prompt:

  Type: open ftp.ncsu.edu

o When the connection opens, it'll ask for your name.  This is 'anonymous FTP'

  Type: anonymous

o When you're asked for a password:

  Type: Your email address

  You should be in.

o Now, to 'Change Directory' to Chris' ASCII art folder:

  Type: cd pub/ncsu/chking/Archive

o Now to list the folder's contents:

  Type: ls

o Let's say you want a file called "Funnies", you would:

  Type: get Funnies  

  The file will be transfered to the host you FTP'd from, in the folder
  you were in when you started that FTP session.

o When you're done:

  Type: bye

  It will say goodbye and quit.

  You may have to decompress or uudecode the file first.  See Question 20 on
how to do that.  Now you can view or download the file from your host.  For
how to view animations and color pics, see Question 21.

  Two helpful things.  Type "cd .." to go back out of a folder.  Type "pwd"
('Print Working Directory') to see where you are.

  How to Gopher:

  Gopher is easy.  Say you want to check out the Bazaar.  You would:

o Type: gopher twinbrook.cis.uab.edu

o Use the up and down arrow keys or number keys to pick the menu item you

o Use the right arrow (or return key) to enter a selection, and the left
  arrow to back out.

o In this case we pick "The Continuum", which is #11, and press the right
  arrow or return.

o After we enter The Continuum, we see the ASCII Art Bazaar, so we pick it
  (it's #1) and press the right arrow or return.

  Once in the Bazaar, you can browse the menus and view the art on screen
without having to download anything just to see it.

  How to use the World Wide Web:

  Using the World Wide Web is as easy as Gopher.  For example, let's say you
want to check out the Scarecrow's WWW Link, you would do the following on a 
live Net site using lynx:

o Type: lynx http://miso.wwa.com/~boba/scarecrow.html

o Use the up and down arrow keys to select what you want to see.

o Use the right arrow (or return key) to enter a selection, and the left
  arrow to back out.

  You can do as with Gopher, but you can also access links to FTP, Gopher and
WWW sites.  For example, there are links that will take you to Chris King's
Web archive of ASCII art, the Figlet server, the Bazaar, Joshua Bell's Star
Trek ASCII art site, and practically everything in the ASCII art world.

  Important Note: You can use a Web browser to access FTP sites, to avoid
logging in, and commands.  For example, say you're using lynx, and you want to
go to the Scarecrow's FTP site, you would type, at the prompt:

   lynx ftp://ftp.wwa.com/pub/Scarecrow

  As you can see, it's just "lynx" plus the URL for the site.  You can do
this with any FTP site, just type "lynx ftp://" plus the address/path, and you
in like Flynn.

  Note: When using FTP, Gopher, WWW, or other live Net services, try to find
files at sites that are close to you before accessing more distant locations.
Also, try to use these services at off-peak hours, to not slow down the
official operations of a school or business.  And send a thank you note to the
admins of sites you have used and benefitted from.

  How to use FTP Mail Servers:

  If you don't have FTP access, you can use an FTP Mail Server.  There are a
few listed in the answer to Question 9.  To use them send a message to any of
the listed addresses with "help" as the message.  Here is an example of how to
use ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com:

o Address a message to: ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com

o Leave the subject blank.

  In the message:

o Type: connect ftp.wwa.com

  The hostname could be any available host.

o Type: chdir pub/Scarecrow

  Changes directory (folder) to the Scarecrow's ASCII art folder.  The
  folder name could be any existing folder.

o Type: binary

  For programs and compressed files.


  Type: ascii

  For text files, uuencoded files, etc.

o Type: get MORE

  Transfers the flie called "MORE" to your computer.  The name could be
  the name of any existing file in that folder.

o Type: quit

o Send the email message

   Your message will be acknowledged.  It will be given a number which you
should save in case of a problem.  Within a day or two you should recieve
either a file or an error message.  If you get an error, make sure the
following are correct: host name, pathname, filename, commands, cAsE.

  11   What does the Scarecrow recommend?

  The Scarecrow's recommendations:

o If you're short on disk space, I would suggest you save this FAQ and get
  just those files containing the type(s) of art you are interested in.

o If you have a bit more disk space, you may want to get the Best of the
  Scarecrow's ASCII Art Archive, and the ASCII Art Reference file.  And
  select a number of files from Steve Sullivan's Small ASCII Pics.

o If you have some disk space to spare, you should get all of the SAAAs, and
  the ASCII Art Resources file.  You can also get all of Steve's Small ASCII
  Pics.  Megabytes of art. With the SAAAs, AAR, and SAPs, you'll be an ASCII
  art expert and collector, instantly!

  Disk space is often limited, so store ASCII art compressed (it should
compress 3:1).  View it when it's compressed by typing: "zcat filename | more"
for .Z and "gzcat filename | more" for .gz files.

  12  Is it OK to copy ASCII art?

  ASCII art that is posted is considered copyrighted by the poster.  But
since the post goes around the world, and copyright laws vary, you'd have
trouble enforcing it in some places.  The correct thing to do is ask
permission before using a piece.

  13  How do I make those big letters?

  You can make lettering like the above subtitle "ANSWERS" by hand, or use a
program called Figlet.  With Figlet, the letters you type are automatically
turned into big letters.  Figlet stands for Frank, Ian and Glenn's LETters.
                                            ^      ^       ^       ^^^
  Figlet is available for use on some host systems.  If it is not, you can
obtain Figlet and fonts from the sites listed in Question 14.  There are about
100 fonts for use with Figlet.  Figlet fonts have a .flf suffix.  Figlet is
currently in version 2.1, available for Unix, DOS, Amiga, and Atari ST.

  There are a number of examples of Figlet fonts in the ASCII Art Resources
and ASCII Art Reference (the Web version of the FAQ).  You'll also find info
on Figlet utilities, methods of feeding Figlet output to files, modifying
Figlet output, and a vi macro.

  Some other hosts have a program called "Banner" which performs a similar

  14  Where can I get Figlet?

  You can get Figlet, fonts, and utilities from:

o FTP Sites:

          Scarecrow's FTP Site
->  Host: ftp.wwa.com
    Path: pub/Scarecrow/Figlet
     URL: ftp://ftp.wwa.com/pub/Scarecrow/Figlet
          Has Figlet, utilities, and all the fonts I've found.
          Also accessible through the Scarecrow's Gopher and WWW sites.

o Figlet WWW Server:

   ->  URL: http://www.inf.utfsm.cl/cgi-bin/figlet

o Figlet Mail Server:
NOTE: None of the mailing lists mentioned below were verified
when this FAQ was reviewed on May 23, 1998.

-> Address: figlet@ottime.chi.il.us
   Message: HELP

o Figlet WWW Home Page:

NOTE: None of the URLs mentioned in the original FAQ were
still valid as of May 23, 1998.

o Figlet Mailing List:
NOTE: None of the mailing lists mentioned below were verified
when this FAQ was reviewed on May 23, 1998.

-> Address: listserv@vmd.cso.uiuc.edu
            Receive fonts, update notes, and Figlet chat.  Run by Ian Chai.

  15   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 converter program.  There's ASCGIF, Gifscii (with
versions for many systems), ANSIrez, "ansicv22", GIF2ANSI, and "gif2txt" for
the PC.

  There's also the HyperCard stack called "asciipicter".  It allows you to
draw a picture, and convert it to ASCII art.  This is for the Macintosh.

  These programs make an ASCII pic from any GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
image (or image you can convert to a GIF).  Most converters require the GIF to
be in 87a format.  GIFs in 89a format, must be converted to 87a format first.

  The exception to the GIF converters is a bitmap converter for Windows
called Pixel Characterizer (version 0.5) by Shi Y Chen.

 16  Where can I get Gray Scale converters?
NOTE: None of the sites mentioned below were verified
when this FAQ was reviewed on May 23, 1998.  

All of the functions mentioned in this section can be
performed with Email Effects.

Email Effects

  You can get Gifscii for many systems, and the source code from:

o FTP Sites:

          Chris' FTP site
->  Host: ftp.ncsu.edu
    Path: pub/ncsu/chking/Archive
     URL: ftp://ftp.ncsu.edu/pub/ncsu/chking

          Scarecrow's FTP Site
->  Host: ftp.wwa.com
    Path: pub/Scarecrow/Gifscii
     URL: ftp://ftp.wwa.com/pub/Scarecrow/Gifscii
          Also accessible through the Scarecrow's Gopher and WWW sites.

          Both Chris' and Scarcecrow's sites have Gifscii 2.2 for MSDOS,
          Unix (Sun), Macintosh, Amiga, Digital Alpha, Digital VAX, as well
          as the c-source code.  Scarecrow's site also has "ansicv22.zip",
          "ansirez1.zip", and "asciipicter.sit.hqx" (HyperCard stack).

  You can get ASCGIF from:

o FTP Sites:

->  Host: usc.edu
    Path: archive/usenet/sources/comp.sources.misc/volume30/ascgif
     URL: ftp://usc.edu/archive/usenet/sources/comp.sources.misc/volume30/ascgif

          Scarecrow's FTP Site
->  Host: ftp.wwa.com
    Path: pub/Scarecrow/Misc
     URL: ftp://ftp.wwa.com/pub/Scarecrow/Misc
          Also accessible through the Scarecrow's Gopher and WWW sites.

->  Host: wuarchive.wustl.edu
    Path: usenet/comp.sources.misc/volume30/ascgif
     URL: ftp://wuarchive.wustl.edu/usenet/comp.sources.misc/volume30/ascgif

  You can get GIF2ANSI and "gif2txt" from:

o BBS Sites:

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

->   BBS: Aquila BBS (708) 820-8344]
    File: gif2txt.zip

   You can get the GDS GIF-JPEG to ANSI (for DOS) at:

o FTP Sites:

   ->  Host: ftp.netcom.com
       Path: pub/ph/photodex
       File: gds31d.zip
        URL: ftp://ftp.netcom.com/pub/ph/photodex/gds31d.zip

   ->  Host: oak.oakland.edu
       Path: SimTel/msdos/graphics
       File: gds31d.zip
        URL: ftp://oak.oakland.edu/SimTel/msdos/graphics/gds31d.zip

  17  How can I make better Gray Scale conversions?

  Most of us start out thinking that you just put a GIF into a converter
program and out comes a perfect ASCII pic.  Would you believe ... there are
some things you can do to improve the chances of getting a good conversion.

  The following is not a complete list, but it is what I have learned in
making many conversions:

o Use an 8 bit gray scale or color image instead of a 2 bit B&W image.

o Use an image with a wide, even distribution of tones.

o Keep it simple, like a face or close-up of an object.

o Avoid busy backgrounds.  With exceptions, avoid bright backgrounds.

o Use an image that is tightly cropped, without a lot of waste.

o Be prepared to quickly run through a series of conversions.  You will
  probably not like 9 to 11 out of 12.

o It helps to do touch-up work on the converted picture.  Concentrate on the
  focal points and important areas of the picture.

  18  What do those filename extensions mean?

  A file may have some of the following elements in its name:

  File name (a file may      Usually implies     "uu" or "uue" for uuencode,
  have a different name ____   a color pic.   __ "xx" or "xxe" for xxencode.
  after uudecoding).        |      |         |
                            |      |         |
                               |        |  |
  Usally implies animation. ___|        |  |__ For Unix Compress, may also
                                        |      be .gz, .zip, etc.  A .zip
  Tape ARchive format may contain ______|      file may contain more than
  more than one file.  Must be 'untarred'.     one file, must be 'unzipped'.

  For further information, on how to save, uncompress, untar, unzip, and view
files, see Questions 20 and 21.

  19  What is 'uuencoding'?

  Color graphics and animations must be processed to change the control codes
to regular printable ASCII characters before they can be sent as text (which
any information service can handle).  This processing is called 'uuencoding'.

  The file is processed back again after it is received.  This is called
'uudecoding'.  See Question 20 on how to save and 'uudecode' a file, and
Question 21 on how to view animations and color images.  A uuencoded file may
look like:

  permission mode _______       ______ file name to be given to decoded file
                         |     |
  begin line ____ begin 644 filename
  encoded data __ M"AM;-#LV2"`@("`@+R`@7`H;6S$[,3%("AM;,CLQ,4@@("`@<("\*&ULS
  end line ______ end

  20  How do I save, 'uudecode' and uncompress a file?

  Type the name of the file where I have "filename".  On a Unix system, the
process is usually as easy as:

  To save a file:

  In most newsreaders, you:

o Type: s filename (or a full pathname)

  In Elm:

o Type: s

  You'll get a "save file to" prompt.

o Type: filename (or a full pathname)

  In Pine:

o Type: s

  You'll be asked for a folder name.  Pine's 'folder' is a text file.

o Type: filename (or a full pathname)

  To uudecode a file:

o Type: uudecode filename

  This may change the resulting file's name.

  To uncompress a file:

  For a .Z (Unix compress) file:

o Type: uncompress filename

  For a .gz (GZip) file:

o Type: gunzip filename

  Sometimes a number of files will come packed together in a .zip or .tar
file.  You need to unzip or untar it.  You will end up with a number of files.

  For a .zip file:

o Type: unzip filename

  For a .tar file:

o Type: tar -xvf filename

  To just read the contents of a .tar file:

o Type: tar -tvf filename

o On a DOS machine, to uncompress a .Z file, you'll need comp430d from:

->  Host: oak.oakland.edu
    Path: pub/msdos/compress
    File: comp430d.zip
     URL: ftp://oak.oakland.edu/pub/msdos/compress/comp430d.zip

  To uuencode a file, use the following syntax at the prompt:

     The uuencode    The file you        Writes resulting uuencoded
         command.    want to uuencode.   file to the last filename.
               |           |              |
               uuencode filename filename > filename
                                    |          |
Name to be put on the 'begin' line of the    Name of the file that will be
resulting uuencoded file.  This name will    written to disk so as to not
be given to the file when it is uudecoded.   overwrite the original file.

  To compress a file:

  For Unix compress:

o Type: compress filename

  For Gzip:

o Type: gzip filename

  To zip compress a number of files into one .zip file, use the following
syntax at the prompt:

        zip filename.zip filename1 filename2 filename3
         |        |             |______|______|
    Command.   Name for file.   Files to be zipped, can be any number.

  For info on viewing animations and color images, see Question 21.

  21  How do I view animations and color images?

  Type the name of the file where I have "filename".  On a Unix system, the
process is usually as easy as:

  To view an animation or color pic:

o Type: cat filename

  You can view a compressed file without decompressing it.

  To view a .Z compressed file:

o Type: zcat filename

  To view a .gz compressed file:

o Type: gzcat filename

  To slow down an animation:

o Type: cat -u filename

  Note: Host system speed, terminal speed, and modem speed all affect
animation speed.  To view color, you need a color screen and ANSI color
capable software.

  See ASCII Art Resources and ASCII Art Reference (the Web version of the
FAQ) for info on programs to slow animations, and how to view animations that
you have downloaded to your PC or Amiga.

  22  How do I put an animation in my plan?

  On most Unix systems:

o Name the file you want to be used as: .plan

o Put it in the top level of your home folder.  

o Make your home folder 'world readable' by typing: chmod 711 .

o Make your plan world readable by typing: chmod 644 .plan

  It does not work with all finger commands.  Many systems will munch
anything except CR and LF.  To test your 'planimation', finger your account
with your full address, not just your login.  For example, type "finger
foo@bar.edu" and not "finger foo".

  Putting an animation in your plan is not universally recommended.

  23  How do I make a sig?

  There are no rules for making sigs.  Most sigs contain items like:

o Name, nickname.
o Email and mail addresses.
o ASCII art pics, borders.
o Work and school names, disclaimer.
o Phone, fax, and pager numbers, PINs.
o Quotes and jokes from the poster and other people.
o Info about the poster's .plan, FTP site, WWW home page, PGP key.

  You might simply 'Figletize' your name, pop in your addy and a pic, and
presto, instant sig:

       |     'Go Johnny Go'       ||      ___|    johnsmith@foo.bar.edu
       |         |                ||     /                  _)  |    |
       |   _     __     __       \||/     __      __ `__     |  __|  __  
   \   |  (   |  |   |  |   |    /()\          |  |   |   |  |  |    |   |
   ___/   ___/  _|  _| _|  _|    \__/    _____/  _|  _|  _| _|  __| _|  _|

  If you're going to have your sig automatically included in your posts and
email, remember that some systems only allow up to 4 lines in the sig.  For
info on how to have your sig automatically included, see Question 24.

  If you want to use a larger sig on systems that only allow 4 lines, you
will have to insert it manually.  On most Unix based systems, using pico
editor, press control-r when you want to insert the sig, and then type the
name (or full pathname) of the file to be inserted, using vi, ex, ed, the
command is ":r ", using emacs, it's control-x control-r .

  Speaking of sig length, there is a rule of thumb of 4 to 6 lines.  Try
to keep sigs around this length for posts, reserving the long ones for email,
and post to the ASCII art groups.

  24  How do I have my sig automatically added to my posts and email?

  On a Unix system, the process is usually as easy as:

  For posts:

  If you are using most newsreaders:

o Name the file you want to be used as ".signature"

o Put it in the top level of your home folder.

  Your news software should pick it up.  Note: some systems are set up to
  allow only four lines in a posted sig.

  If you are using tin:

o Make a folder in the top level of your home folder called ".Sig".

o Fill it with sigs.

  The files in that folder will be used randomly by tin when selecting a sig
  for your post.  You can call the folder something other than ".Sig", but you
  must change the 'signature path' line in your tinrc in your .tin folder.

  To have a file included above your random sig:

o Make a file in the top level of your home folder called ".sigfixed".

  For email:

o Name the file you want to be used as ".signature"

o Put it in the top level of your home folder.

  If you have done this for the above use in news posts, you need to, in
additon, do one of the following:

  If you're using Elm for your email, and elm doesn't pick up your sig:

o You need to put the following in ypur elmrc:

  localsignature = ~/.signature
  remotesignature = ~/.signature

  If you don't have an elmrc yet:

o Open Elm

o Press the 'o' key to get to the options screen.

o Press the '>' to save your configuration.

o Press 'i' to go back to the index.

o Quit.

  This will create the elmrc file in the .elm folder.

  If you're using Pine (with Pico) for your email:

o Place the following in your .pinerc file:


  If you're using vm (in emacs) for your email:

o Place the following in your .emacs file:

  (setq mail-signature t)

  Note about sig usage: Try to use short sigs for posts to newsgroups.  If
you have any long sigs, try to only use them for email and posts to the ASCII
art groups.

  25  What should I know about posting ASCII Art?

  You can post any of the following types of ASCII art to rec.arts.ascii or
alt.ascii-art or alt.binaries.pictures.ascii groups:

o All forms of ASCII art including:
  - Standard ASCII art (line pics, 3-D, oversize printer art, GIFs, etc).
  - Non-standard ASCII art (animations, color pics, color animations).
o Discussion about pieces of art.
o Requests for specific pieces of art, and their fulfillment.
o Questions and answers covering:
  - Creating and viewing ASCII art.
  - Locating FTP sites for ASCII art and related files.
o Dicussion about artists in the field.

  Animations can also be posted to alt.ascii-art.animation.  3-D art can also
be posted to alt.3d.

  To make it easier for everybody, please put one of the following Subject
IDs at the beginning of the subject line of your post:

     Line - Standard ASCII line art.  Line pictures and large lettering.
      GIF - Gray scale image.
Animation - Animation.  Usually uuencoded.
    Color - ANSI Color image.  Usually uuencoded.
      3-D - Three dimensional art.
     Font - Alphabets and Figlet fonts.
   Binary - Binaries (software like Figlet and Gifscii).  Usually uuencoded.
      Big - Wider than 80 columns and-or longer than 24 lines).

   Repost - Repost of a previously posted pic, not new art.
  Request - Request for a picture, Figletized name, sig, etc.

     Talk - General discussion, no pics included.
 Question - A question concerning any of the ASCII art topics.
   Answer - An answer to a question asked by a poster.
     Info - Web URLs, email addresses, Gopher and FTP sites, font lists, etc.
 Announce - Announcements of events, new sites, Web pagse, etc.

      FAQ - Used for the weekly posting of Frequently Asked Questions

  If you are following up a post, please change the Subject ID to reflect the
contents of the post.  This way if you are fulfilling a request, change:

  Request: Marilyn Monroe
  GIF: Marilyn Monroe

  This allows readers the option of reading the group in a newsreader's
selector, sorted by articles.  They can then read only what is of interest to
them, trusting the IDs to accurately identify the contents.  Some people do
not have the time (or money if they are paying by the hour or byte) to read
everything in every group they like.

  Here are some guidelines:

  Posting to the ASCII groups:

o 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.

o Try to eliminate unnecessary blank space to the left of the pic, and
  trailing space to the right.  This reduces waste.

o If you're posting a collection of pics, try to keep each pic on its own
  lines (and separated from other pics by a couple of lines).

o Replace tabs with spaces.  Otherwise tab damage can occur.

  When following up an article:

o Read all the articles in a thread before posting.  Most newsreaders will let
  you re-read news you've already seen.

o Decide whether it's better to post or email your message.

o Check the attributions.

o Try to keep quoted materials to a minimum.

o Summarize where possible.

o Change the Subject ID.

  Most general guidelines for posting apply here too:

o Try to stay on topic (ASCII art).  It's easy to get sidetracked into other
  things, especially when a cross-posted thread gets going.

o If you disagree with someone, disagree with their words, don't flame them.

o Ask permission before quoting somebody's email message.

o Type your post in upper-and-lower case.  ALL UPPER CASE IS HARD TO READ.

o Cross-post an article instead of posting it separately to many newsgroups.
  You cross-post by adding group names to the "Newsgroups:" line in the
  header (if you are using the editor in a newsreader).  Or by typing names
  when prompted in "Pnews".

  When you cross-post, only one copy is sent around.  And only one copy is
  kept on each machine.  And as a reader, you only see the cross-posted
  article once, no matter how many groups it was cross-posted to.

  If you're a new reader:

o Read the ASCII groups for a week or two to familiarize yourself with them
  before posting.

  If you're a new user:

o Familiarize yourself with newsgroups, their customs, terminology and
  abbreviations.  Check out the guidelines, posted in the newsgroups
  news.announce.newusers and news.newusers.questions.

  One exception to the usual rules is the use of sigs.  Because the groups
rec.arts.ascii, alt.ascii-art and alt.binaries.pictures.ascii are about ASCII
art, it is within the scope of these groups to post longer sigs.

  Be an Art Detective.

  Let's say you're reading another group, say, rec.nonsense, and while
reading the posts, you see a pic or sig.  You would like an easy way to show
it to us on rec.arts.ascii, without saving it, quiting from rec.nonsense,
going to rec.arts.ascii, starting a post, inserting the pic or sig, quiting
your newsreader, deleting it, etc.

  It's easy to be an Art Detective.  While in the original newsgroup:

o Follow-up the article, making sure it is quoted.

o Replace any newsgroups named in the "Newsgroups:" with "rec.arts.ascii".

o Delete all extraneous materials from the post, leaving the pic or sig.

o Add any commentary you think appropriate.

o Send it.

  26  Where is this FAQ available?
NOTE: None of the sites mentioned below were verified
when this FAQ was reviewed on May 23, 1998. 

  Tha FAQ is available from newsgroups, FTP, Gopher, WWW, finger:

o Newsgroups:

     alt.ascii-art, alt.binaries.pictures.ascii, alt.ascii-art.animation
     comp.graphics, news.answers, alt.answers, rec.answers, comp.answers

o FTP Sites:

->  Host: ftp.wwa.com
    Path: pub/Scarecrow
    File: FAQ
     URL: ftp://ftp.wwa.com/pub/Scarecrow/FAQ

->  Host: rtfm.mit.edu
    Path: pub/usenet-by-group/rec.arts.ascii
    File: FAQ_-_ASCII_Art_Questions_&_Answers_(*.*_-_*_K)
     URL: ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet-by-group/rec.arts.ascii

->  Host: src.doc.ic.ac.uk
    Path: pub/usenet/news.answers/rec.arts.ascii
    File: FAQ_-_ASCII_Art_Questions_&_Answers_(*.*_-_*_K)
     URL: ftp://src.doc.ic.ac.uk/pub/usenet/news.answers/rec.arts.ascii

o Gopher Servers:

->  Hast: gopher.wwa.com
   Items: 3, 3

->  Hast: jupiter.sun.csd.unb.ca
   Items: 10, 12, 1

->  Host: cc1.kuleuven.ac.be
   Items: 3, 3, 858

o World Wide Web:

 ->  URL: http://miso.wwa.com/~boba/scarecrow.html
  Select: ASCII ART FAQ (this file)
  Select: ASCII Art Resources (text version with samples of everything)
  Select: ASCII Art Reference (Web version with links to everything)

o Finger by typing the following at a prompt on mony sites:

   finger asciifaq@wwa.com (turn on text capture first)
   finger asciifaq@wwa.com | more (you can read it a page at a time)
   finger asciifaq@wwa.com > faq (saves it to a file called 'faq')

  27  Who made this FAQ?

  It is made by your old friend, the Scarecrow.  Materials for the ASCII ART
FAQ, ASCII Art Resources and ASCII Art Reference (the Web version of the FAQ)
were gratefully received from the following nice people:

   JORN BARGER         _______________________
  ROWAN CRAWFORD      /                       \
 NORMAND VEILLEUX    |    That's all folks!    |
 GLEN A MILLER       | See ASCII Art Resources |
 JUDY ANDERSON       | and ASCII Art Reference |
 MICHAEL A GODIN     |    for many examples.   |
 STEVEN M SULLIVAN    \__   __________________/
 LARS ARONSSON           | /
 CHRIS PIRILLO           |/
 CHEVALIER               /
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