Please Note: This guide was is being written by Carsten Cumbrowski aka Roy/SAC since August 2009. It is incomplete and to be considered "Work in Progress". However, even in its incomplete state, it might provide some value insights and tips for one or the other reader already. I am sorry for not being able to finish it yet ;|.
Carsten aka Roy/SAC
The term "Block ASCII" or "High ASCII" refers to text art that utilizes the the Microsoft DOS proprietary extended ASCII character set.
To learn about the difference between the extended MS DOS character set and the standard ASCII format, check out my other article about the
different scene ASCII art styles
The name "High" in "High ASCII" is derived from the location of the character codes in the ASCII Table.
The DOS ASCII Table contains 256 characters. The Characters 0-127 are used for the standard ASCII characters.
The non-standard, MS DOS specific characters start afterwards with a "higher" number in the ASCII Table, hence "High-ASCII".
The alternative term "Block ASCII" is derived from the fact that most "High ASCIIs" make use of the characters that look like blocks in 2D (from the side).
The Block Set Characters: ░ ▒ ▓ █ ▀ ▄ ▌ ▐ ■ ▪
Border Character Sets
Single Line Border: │ ┤ ┐ └ ┴ ┬ ├ ─ ┼ ┘ ┌
Double Line Border: ╣ ║ ╗ ╝ ╚ ╔ ╩ ╦ ╠ ═ ╬
Additional Border Character Sets for users with CP437 (North America), which is not available in all other Code Pages, such as CP850 (Western Europe).
Top/Bottom Double Line, Left/Right Single Line Border: ╡ ╕ ╛ ╞ ╧ ╤ ╘ ╒ ╪
Top/Bottom Single Line, Left/Right Double Line Border: ╢ ╖ ╜ ╟ ╨ ╥ ╙ ╓ ╫
Additional High ASCII Characters that could be used*
« » ½ ¼ ² ° ⁿ ¬ ¥ ± £ etc.
... basically any additional character of the "upper half" of the extended characterset beyond the "first half" (128) (ASCII Standard characters and system control characters) could be utilized. The only problem with the non-graphical characters in MS DOS is that they could be different depending on the "Code Page" used (language specific character sets) by the user. For example the character with ASCII code 245 would be this one ⌡, if the user is using Code Page 437 (typically used in North America), however, the same code 245 would produce this character § on a computer, which uses Code Page 850 (typically used in Western Europe, including Germany).
Because of those subtle differences in extended character sets, I suggest to stick to the basics, which work across the board, the standard US-ASCII characters, the block characters and the single and double line border character sets.
High ASCII Characters Table
|ASCII Hex||ASCII Dec||Char||Unicode||Name|
|The Block Characters|
||LOWER HALF BLOCK
||LEFT HALF BLOCK
||RIGHT HALF BLOCK
||UPPER HALF BLOCK
|Single Line Border Characters|
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT VERTICAL
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT VERTICAL AND LEFT
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT DOWN AND LEFT
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT UP AND RIGHT
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT UP AND HORIZONTAL
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT DOWN AND HORIZONTAL
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT VERTICAL AND RIGHT
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT HORIZONTAL
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT UP AND LEFT
||BOX DRAWINGS LIGHT DOWN AND RIGHT
|Double Line Border Characters|
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE VERTICAL AND LEFT
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE VERTICAL
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE DOWN AND LEFT
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE UP AND LEFT
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE UP AND RIGHT
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE DOWN AND RIGHT
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE UP AND HORIZONTAL
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE DOWN AND HORIZONTAL
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE VERTICAL AND RIGHT
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE HORIZONTAL
||BOX DRAWINGS DOUBLE VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL
|Top/Bottom Double Line, Left/Right Single Line Border Characters|
||BOX DRAWINGS VERTICAL SINGLE AND LEFT DOUBLE
||BOX DRAWINGS DOWN SINGLE AND LEFT DOUBLE
||BOX DRAWINGS UP SINGLE AND LEFT DOUBLE
||BOX DRAWINGS VERTICAL SINGLE AND RIGHT DOUBLE
||BOX DRAWINGS UP SINGLE AND HORIZONTAL DOUBLE
||BOX DRAWINGS DOWN SINGLE AND HORIZONTAL DOUBLE
||BOX DRAWINGS UP SINGLE AND RIGHT DOUBLE
||BOX DRAWINGS DOWN SINGLE AND RIGHT DOUBLE
||BOX DRAWINGS VERTICAL SINGLE AND HORIZONTAL DOUBLE
|Top/Bottom Single Line, Left/Right Double Line Border Characters|
||BOX DRAWINGS VERTICAL DOUBLE AND LEFT SINGLE
||BOX DRAWINGS DOWN DOUBLE AND LEFT SINGLE
||BOX DRAWINGS UP DOUBLE AND LEFT SINGLE
||BOX DRAWINGS VERTICAL DOUBLE AND RIGHT SINGLE
||BOX DRAWINGS UP DOUBLE AND HORIZONTAL SINGLE
||BOX DRAWINGS DOWN DOUBLE AND HORIZONTAL SINGLE
||BOX DRAWINGS UP DOUBLE AND RIGHT SINGLE
||BOX DRAWINGS DOWN DOUBLE AND RIGHT SINGLE
||BOX DRAWINGS VERTICAL DOUBLE AND HORIZONTAL SINGLE
Considerations Before You Get Started
Traditional ASCII's are limited to 79 usable characters in width. This limitation has its roots in MS DOS as well, where the screen width in text mode was limited to 80 characters in width. Only 79 characters of the 80 are usable, because if you use the full 80 characters, DOS added automatically a line-break, causing effectively an empty line after which the next line of your ASCII will continue.
There is no real limit for the height of an ASCII. DOS was showing 25 lines at once on the screen. DOS adds automatically a prompt to continue with the "next page", if your ASCII is taller than 23 lines. DOS ASCII editors also have limitations in the length of an ASCII (or ANSI) that can be worked on at once. TheDraw for example, the tool that I was using for most of my ANSIs and ASCIIs is limited to 100 lines. But there are ways to work around those limitations of the editors, such as working on different segments of an ASCII, which are stored in separate files and then, when you are finished, simply merge the segments into a single ASCII file.
The high resolution text mode uses 50 lines instead of 25. The ASCII is basically squeezed to half its original height compared to the standard 80x25 characters screen mode. In high resolution text mode are the height and width of a character virtually the same (square) instead of rectangular.
The way how your ASCII is going to be displayed is an important factor that you should consider from the start, because the appearance and looks of your ASCII changes significantely, depending on which screen mode is typically going to be used by others to watch your art work.
The Width Limitation and How to Approach it
The available width remains unchanged, regardless if the screen mode to display is the standard or the high resolution one. If you are planning to design a logo in high ASCII keep this limit in mind. A logo is a word or phrase made out of characters. Even if you create highly abstract and virtually unreadable character designs, then you still have to create a design for each character.
I am going to use the English (Latin) alphabet as an example for what sort of things you need to think about before you start drawing a logo. It takes at least 4 characters to display most of the English letters in a readable design. Included in this number is already one character used as spacing between each letter, to be able to tell them apart. The exceptions to this rule are the letters "m", "w" and "i". It only requires 2 instead of 4 characters to create a readable design of the letter "i", you save some, which is always good. However, "m" and "w" take 6 characters instead of 4, in order to display them properly.
1-3 1-3 1 1---5 1---5
▄▀█ █▀▄ ▀ █ █ █ █
█▄█ █▄▀ █ █▀▄▀█ █ ▄ █
█ █ █▄█ █ █ █ █▀ ▀█
Do the math, of how many letters would fit in one line? In average 19, plus or minus 1-3 letters, depending on the number of appearances of the letters "i", "w" and "m". This average does not consider the use of multiple words, which would require some extra space to be able to tell them apart. The name of the thing where you want to create a logo for is unlikely to be a single word of 19 letters. But this is just a theoretical figure. You have not much room for creativity if you only reserve the number of characters for the width of a letter that is absolutely necessary to produce a readable version of it in high ASCII. The more space you give a letter for its design, the more options you will get to experiment with.
I also don't want to give the impression that each letter must have the same with. One trick to save some characters for the width is to design the letters that they appear as if they are merged or overlapping each other.Unless you have some very good ideas for how to do that for your logo before hand, I suggest to start the design process by assigning each letter the same number of characters in available width. It is easy to run out of space, if you forced yourself to to save a certain number of characters in order to fit the word or phrase of the title into one line. For example, if you design letters in a style that typically requires 9 characters for each letter and need to fit more than 8 in one line, you must save for some of the letters space and use less than the 9 characters dictated by the style that you created. If this saving or characters does go as well as you might expected, then you are going to face the problem of not being able to make the title of the logo fit in that one line.Now you have more than problem that you need to solve, which require already some advanced skills and knowledge, something that you as a beginner does not have.
Planning the Locations of Key Sections
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