Convert JPEGs to ASCII art with ASCII Art Studio
ASCII art is one of the oldest computer graphics techniques, and can create surprisingly realistic pictures from the 95 printable ASCII characters (letters, numbers and symbols).
The idea was originally used in the 1960s to produce images on the line printers of the day, but the stark and high-contrast results can still deliver interesting designs today.
ASCII Art Studio is an old program -- last updated in 2007 -- for creating ASCII art.
A sidebar has paint-like drawing options: freehand, Freehand, Brush, Erase, Fill, Line, Curve, Rectangle, Ellipse and more. These work more or less as they do in a paint program, except you’re able to draw with ASCII characters: letters, numbers, symbols or simple blocks.
While these drawing tools work, they’re not particularly interesting or well-implemented. Worse, there doesn’t seem to be any color support, so you’re stuck with greyscale images only.
ASCII Art Studio’s major plus point is its ability to convert an existing JPG or GIF to ASCII art.
Click File > Convert Picture…, choose a file, set "Width" to "Determined by picture width", check all the "Characters" boxes, click OK and wait for the results.
The process strips out a lot of the color and resolution, but we found that source images with strong detail and high contrast can give very eye-catching results. Take a look at the eagle in the picture above, for instance -- from a distance it looks very similar to the original, yet it’s just an ASCII image which you could probably display in Notepad.
The main potential gotcha is that the "Determined by picture width" setting doesn’t always provide the resolution you need. If you think the final picture is too small, convert the picture again, select "Custom" resolution and enter your preferred width (if you’re unsure, start with 160).
ASCII Art Studio is a free application for Windows.