How to Make Art With the Letters of Your Keyboard

Written by meg north
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How to Make Art With the Letters of Your Keyboard
Keyboard characters can form pictures when used in a text editor. (keyboard image by Eisenhans from

Keyboard art, also known as ASCII art, is a way to add a personalised graphic to e-mail signatures, forums and message boards, blogs and other text-based mediums. In addition to the alphabet letters from A to Z, ASCII art also incorporates the numerals and symbols. The letters, numbers and symbols are called characters. ASCII art can be either line art, which is an outline-based form of creating the picture, or solid art, using repeating symbols to fill in the area. It works best with a monospace font, like Courier New.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Text editor (e.g. Notepad)

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  1. 1

    Open a simple text editor, such as Notepad. Name the file and save it to a location of your choosing.

  2. 2

    Start at the top left-hand corner of the drawing and loosely draw the shape using keyboard characters. Spacebar or tab over while typing. Use pipe delimited | for vertical lines, the underscore _ for horizontal lines and slashes / and \ for curves and angles. Work your way around the perimeter of the ASCII drawing. Finish the rough outline and make sure you have proportions correct.

  3. 3

    Add details to the outlined ASCII drawing by substituting the slashes / and \ for more gently curving lines. Quotation marks ( " ), commas ( , ) and apostrophes ( ') provide small details. A long curved line could look like this: "~~"----..,___ .

  4. 4

    Add details to the interior of the ASCII drawing. The lower case letter o can be an eye, a carat ( > ) can be a nose, and two tildes ( ~~ ) make a mouth.

  5. 5

    Finalise the drawing by adding any last minute details or checking proportions. You can also try printing a copy to see how it looks. This step may be omitted if you have a less complex drawing.

Tips and warnings

  • Personalise the drawing by making the characters different colours.
  • Once you have completed several easy drawings, try for a more difficult picture.
  • Look at others' ASCII art examples to learn new techniques.
  • Save your work often.

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