ANSI Art isn't Really Dead

ANSI unicornIt’s surprising that ANSI art isn’t far more popular than it is. Instead, only a small group of old gamers, artists and musicians seem to know about it at all. Many people confuse ANSI art with ASCII art when they see it. ANSI art uses all of the keyboard characters including those you can’t see on the computer keyboard itself. You can access these extra keyboard characters with the right extra codes and the alt keys.

I don’t make ANSI art myself. I like the puzzle of dealing with plain text. But I do admire all the colour of ANSI art.

It used to aggravate me when people would post text art and claim it was ASCII art when anyone could plainly see there were all kinds of keyboard characters in there, above and beyond the limits of ASCII characters. Now, I’ve become a little more understanding and I see how there is confusion about ANSI art versus ASCII art.

So let me make it clear. ANSI art uses everything you can get out of your keyboard. ASCII art only uses the standard keyboard characters – if you can’t type it without hitting more than just the shift key, it is not ASCII art.

I hope that helps to clear the whole ANSI/ ASCII thing up.

Get to Know ANSI Art

ANSI art is a computer art form that was used on BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems) in the 1980’s. Like ASCII art, but it is constructed from a larger set of 256 letters, numbers, and symbols. ANSI art (extended ASCII) also contains special ANSI escape sequences that colour text with the 16 foreground and 8 background colours offered by ANSI.SYS.

Some ANSI artists create animations, commonly referred to as ANSImations. ANSI art and text files which incorporate ANSI codes carry the .ANS file extension. ANSI art was used for games like MUDs (multi user dungeons), computer hackers, crackers and demoscene (which was about sound music, ANSI art, creativity and competition). ANSI artists released their finished artwork in files which they call packs.

ANSI art is considerably more flexible than ASCII art. The particular character set it uses contains symbols intended for drawing, such as box-drawing, shading, mathematical symbols, card suits, characters used in languages other than standard English, and block characters that dither foreground and background colour. With clever use of the shading characters, ANSI artists could mix two colours and create more shades from them.

The popularity of ANSI art encouraged the creation ANSI editors, some are still maintained today. The decline of BBSes and DOS made it difficult to view ANSI animations. So ANSI art has lost popularity and become retro, geeky or old fashioned and out dated.

Try Creating Your Own ANSI Art

ANSI art is pretty exceptional. Do you feel inspired to give it a try?

There are still a few software programs which will help you create graphics/ images/ pictures with ANSI art. Explore the links I’ve added here, read the reviews and suggestions from the ANSI artists and then pick which ever software gives you the best tutorial on how to get started and where to go from there.

ansiartANSI Art Links