Image2ASCII is an open-source Windows application which converts digital pictures to stylized ASCII art. The program is tiny, and arrives as a stand-alone executable. There’s no installation required, simply download and run it.
Image2ASCII’s interface follows its own rules. It has a couple of boxes for the loaded and converted images, and a bunch of icons, without captions or tooltips, which you have to figure out for yourself.
You’ll still get started easily enough. Click the "Open" icon, choose a file and tap the "Refresh" icon to run a conversion. The results are previewed in a second window.
One issue with Image2ASCII is the converted images tend to look washed out, without the contrast or density you’d expect. If that’s a problem for you, a Contrast slider enables increasing the contrast of the source. Try that, hit the Refresh again, and you may get better results.
By default Image2ASCII creates a greyscale version of the original, but there’s also an option to try and reproduce the original colors. This tends to be even more washed out than the greyscale version, but we found the results could be improved in seconds by opening the saved image in another editor and adjust the contrast or colors there.
The company also has an option which apparently gives you some control over how you map from pixels to characters, although the major lack of documentation makes it hard to say for sure.
When you’re done you can export the results as PNG, BMP, TIFF and JPG.
Image2ASCII is available for Windows 7 and later.