Create ASCII Art Text Banners at the Command Line
Graphics and large stylized text blocks constructed entirely out of the ASCII keyboard characters is called ASCII art. You may have seen it with the goofy ASCII Star Wars thing, but once upon a time it was very popular to stylize messages and images on BBS’s, IRC, MUDs, message boards, and across the early days of the internet in general, it has since largely fallen out of favor to, well, actual graphics and images. Nonetheless, the command line in Mac OS X provides a retro-throwback with it’s very own ASCII art banner creator, appropriately called ‘banner’.
To try the ASCII art building banner command yourself, launch the Terminal app from the /Applications/Utilities folder and follow along.
You’ll find that using banner is very simple, just feed it some text you want to turn into an ASCII banner and it does the hard work for you. At it’s most simple, you can use it like so:
You can replace ‘osxdaily.com’ with your own message text, but the example given will print ‘osxdaily.com’ as an enormous vertical ASCII banner, so just use it like this:
banner your message goes here
Due to it’s enormous default size (132 characters wide) the output is perhaps only appropriate for printing, so to reduce the size of the banner text just specify a width with the -w flag like so:
banner -w 20 osxdaily.com
This will output the banner text at a much more reasonable 20 character width. But by reducing the overall width, you’ll also reduce the quality of the ASCII art, so if you want things to be sharp keep the larger size and then manually reduce the font size of the output yourself, either in Terminal or with an app like TextEdit. You can also choose to manually rotate the text yourself in third party applications, but the banner command in OS X doesn’t print horizontally.
Not into the command line? Create ASCII art banners on the web
For those who aren’t comfortable digging around the command line, or who don’t want to have large vertical banners, you can always use a web-based ASCII art generator found here, there’s even a variety of font options if you feel like customizing things a bit further.
Just copy and paste the output where you want it to appear, a perfect solution for those wanting to get their email signatures looking like they’re coming from 1994.
Is this the most useful thing in the world? Well no, but it’s fun. If you’re now on an ASCII kick try busting out your favorite flick in the absolutely hilarious VLC video-to-ASCII player.