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Convert a Picture to Text

Updated on November 12, 2014
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Photos to ASCII Text

If you used computers in the 70s or 80s you will remember creating computer art using just ASCII text characters. It was not easy to create designs using just the 128 characters - but folks did it. And now, with Photo2Text, you can automate the process - take a graphic image and create a text image like the one shown to the left. It's retro-fun and easy to email your text picture - no need for attachments, just drop it in as text. And if you have fun with Photo2text, we also highlight a few similar applications - also free and fun!

Convert Your Photo Into A Text Version

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What is ASCII art?

ASCII Art is the art of drawing diagrams and pictures using the "American Standard Code for Information Interchange' or ASCII character set. Essentially it is drawing pictures using only the characters that are on the keyboard. ASCII art dates back to the early days of the computer age when fancy screens and graphics programs had not been created yet - all you had was a keyboard and your imagination.

  • One cool feature of ASCII art is that can be used in e-mail simply by copying and pasting it into the e-mail. Some email will block images, but this is just pure text.
  • One challenging feature of ASCII art is you must view it with a fixed-width font, such as Courier or Fixedsys. If you see ASCII art and things don't look right, they don't line up - that means the text has been converted to a proportional font which tries to adjust the width of each letter depending on prior and next letters.
  • If you get creative, you can bury your initials (or a short name) into the art as your signature!

Sources for ASCII Art

If ASCII art intrigues you as much as it does me, there are a few great resources on the Internet. I recommend you check out ASCII World for some great examples - ranging from aliens, to animals to my favorite - Mr. Potato Head.

Beautiful in person and in ASCII

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Wordle - Wordle.net

Wordle
Wordle

Wordle is a toy for generating "word clouds" from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

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Text to Image

One of the easiest ASCII converters is Text-Image.com and a great sample creation is shown above. Text-image.com offers the "traditional" image to ASCII option - my favorite. But it also has an option to create HTML text which will allow you to re-create these images in email, on blogs and on even on other web sites.

When did you first hear about or see ASCII art?

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ASCII-o-Matic

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Pikachu's Summer Vacation -- ASCII Art

© 2009 Edit Photos

Share Your Thoughts on ASCII Artwork

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    • EditPhotos profile image
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      Edit Photos 5 years ago from Earth

      @Seasons Greetings: A purist! If you can still do it the old fashioned way - more power to you!!!

    • Seasons Greetings profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Most of the software is more annoying to work with than just making the ASCII art yourself. I still DIY.

    • profile image

      LanceLarkin 6 years ago

      sweet!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      thats awesome...!!1

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      OMG ... I completely forgot about this. Yes, when I was a wee young thing.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 7 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      This is so awesome! I used to spend hours making ASCII art in my misspent youth.

    • TriviaChamp profile image

      TriviaChamp 8 years ago

      What a useful and fun resource!