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Fake ASCII Art

The creation of ASCII (or text) artwork is a discipline older than the internet itself. Ranging from simple objects created with punctuation marks to fully-fledged A4-sized masterpieces, text-art is a unique and often very difficult to master artform. But why spend hours with notepad when you can simply fake ASCII art using Photoshop in under 5 minutes?

Preparation: Before you begin this tutorial you will need a sample image with strong contrasts between the light and dark areas. Greyscale portraits are best, but not essential - any object will work provided that you are willing to put in a little extra effort. You will also need to know the dimensions of your source image prior to the first step.

Step 1:  Create a new document the same size as your source image with a default black-filled background.

Add a new transparent layer on top of that black background and fill it with white-colored text. What you say in that text is entirely up to you, but simple fonts usually work best - overly ornate alternatives can look awkward if a contour intersects them at a later stage in the tutorial.

When you have finished adding your text, merge down the image via Image > Flatten Image and save it as text.jpg (or a suitable alternative). Do not close your document - just move it to another part of the desktop.

Step 2:
Open up your source image as a new document, select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Posterize from the main menu and press OK. Another dialog box will pop up - enter 4 in the levels box and click OK once more. If everything has gone as planned you should have an image split up into color levels and resembling mine below:


Step 3: Now for the slightly fiddly bit. Reselect your text.jpg document and select Layer > Duplicate Layer, but instead of specifying the destination as text.jpg, change it to the filename of your image used in step 2. Now go back into your destination image, hide your text layer, reselect the image layer, and choose Select > Color Range. In the dialog box that comes up, choose the black area and click OK.

Nearly there! In fact, all that's left for you to do now is make the text layer visible once again, select it in the layers palette, and press DELETE on your keyboard. Voila... one simple ASCII portrait! You can either leave the partial characters alone or erase them with a black-tipped Brush Tool - the choice is up to you!

So, the question remains... if its as simple as selecting the background and deleting the area it occupies from the text field, why do we bother with the posterize function? Well, in addition to clarifying the edges of your image and making it easier to select, the posterize function also splits the image up into different depth levels - this allows us to enhance this effect further if desired and create simple 3D text images. All you need to do is darken the text areas in direct correlation with the luminosity of the color areas. Simple! :)

- Tutorial written by Gunyu

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Last 5 User Comments

User:  prestigeWeb (#43220)
Date: Wed Jul 04, 2007. 04:25:20

Post #5 of 5

Sweet, I never knew you could do that.

Again, please feel free to call me an idiot.

Reply to this post

User:  lilymoonsilver (#40016)
Date: Fri Mar 30, 2007. 17:40:53

Post #4 of 5

This is also a very well conceived and well written tutorial. Thank you very muchl.

Reply to this post

User:  CartoonGirl (#35488)
Date: Fri Dec 08, 2006. 06:30:10

Post #3 of 5

Hmmm .. couldn't get it to work in Photoshop CS2/mac no matter how hard I tried and repeated the proceedure. Pressing delete as stated did absolutely nothing. I am sad. Any suggestions?

Reply to this post

User:  Darkie (#34327)
Date: Tue Nov 14, 2006. 20:10:21

Post #2 of 5

Awsome shortcut! I will try to do it later on.

Reply to this post

User:  KimiNoOkazu (#31326)
Date: Fri Aug 25, 2006. 05:44:00

Post #1 of 5

haha...nice tutorial dude....is that girl BoA? lol. =P

Reply to this post

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