ASCII art is a graphic design technique that relies primarily on computers for presentation and consists of pictures put together from characters defined by the ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) standard. These characters are letters, numbers and special characters such as # / and \. ASCII art is as much a constituent element of the internet as emoticons, cats, or acronyms such as ROTFL and LOL.
ASCII art was invented, in large part, because early printers lacked graphics ability. Characters were used to replace graphic marks. Dot matrix printers designed for bulk printing often used ASCII art to print large banners, to help distinguish different print jobs from different users. ASCII art was also used in early e-mail when images could not be embedded.
Linux offers a vast collection of small open source utilities that perform functions ranging from the obvious to the bizarre. It is the quality and selection of these tools that help Linux stand out as a productive environment.
ASCII art has long moved on from text messages comprised of underscores and hashes to more complex and appealing designs, but creating such patterns takes some effort. These art tools make the creation of complex ASCII art effortless.
There are some weird utilities featured here, which will particularly be of interest to anyone with an affectionate nostalgia for old school computing, who want to remember the heady days of Bulletin Board Systems, telnet and other pre-WWW networks.
The chart below captures our recommendations.
Let’s explore the 19 ASCII art tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot, together with links to relevant resources.
|ASCII Art Tools|
|gif-for-cli||Convert media to animated ASCII art|
|ASCIIQuarium||Embrace marine life from the terminal with beautiful ASCII art|
|CMatrix||Terminal based “The Matrix”|
|Aewan||Ascii-art Editor Without a Name|
|Steam Locomotive||C program written in 295 lines. It's harmless fun|
|boxes||ASCII box drawing|
|FIGlet||Make large letters out of ordinary screen characters|
|pipes.sh||Animated pipes terminal screensaver|
|jp2a||Convert JPEG images to ASCII|
|lolcat||Rainbows and unicorns|
|TOIlet||Similar in many ways to FIGlet with additional features|
|textdraw||Draw geometric figures and text|
|No More Secrets||Recreates the data decryption effect seen in the 1992 film Sneakers|
|cbonsai||Generate bonsai trees|
|cadubi||Creative ASCII drawing utility|
|cacafire||Color ASCII Fire|
|cowsay||Generates ASCII pictures of a cow with a message in a speech bubble|
|gti||Typo-based curio inspired by Steam Locomotive|
|ctree||Christmas tree on your terminal|
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