I've held two ASCII art contests in the past and there have been plenty of interesting entries, but this time the contest will be bigger and also accept ANSI entries. Even if you have never made ASCII art before, I encourage you to participate. Take the contest as a challenge and don't think you don't stand a chance. The winners of my first ASCII contest hardly had any previous experience with ASCII art.
So what are these ASCII and ANSI things?
Basically, ASCII art is the kind of text art you could create in Notepad or in a typewriter. The characters are equally wide and spaced, as if they were placed in an invisible grid. ASCII can be colored, but it is usually in black and white.
ASCII art on DeviantART
ANSI art is a very specific artform, heavily relying on its restricted medium, the ANSI character set. ANSI was the standard way to display text output in the 80's, before the arrival of graphical environments (Windows, Mac OS). ANSI art is mostly made of colored blocks (which makes it similar to pixel art), but "normal" text can also be used.
ANSI art on DeviantART
Despite its long history the recognition that ASCII art has got in the art world has pretty much been non-existent. Thus the theme of this contest is Non-existent. That refers to any kind of things that don't really exist (or haven't existed), eg. fantasy, surreal art, sci-fi, anthro, imaginary characters and places and impossible scenes or combinations. However this is not a fanart contest, so pictures of Sonic, Pokemons, Harry Potter, Donald Duck and such will not be accepted, but we will accept pictures of classical characters such as Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella or the Sandman. For the purpose of the contest we'll consider all abstract themes to be "non-existent" (in the concrete world) and the same goes for subjects whose existence is controversial, so that we don't have to make judgements about whether God exists or whether Atlantis has really existed.
This contest is only for textmode art (ASCII and ANSI art). Both types of art have their own contest category. The contest is not open to any other kind of art, including other kinds of typographic art. If you want to participate in some other kind of contest, you can probably find a suitable one listed at #Deviant-Contests.
Common rules for both categories
The entry must be an ASCII or ANSI picture, of at least 10x10 and at most 80x200 characters. The entry must be drawn in a fixed-width font.
The entry must be original and created by hand. Entries made with an image to ASCII/ANSI converter are not taken into account. If your image looks converted or ripped, you will need to present a proof that you made it (ie. so called "step files", save the picture into several different files while drawing it). It is a good idea to upload these pictures into your Scraps and link them from the description, as otherwise we may need to ask for them later and if you don't answer us in time we may have to disqualify your entry.
You are allowed to use the drawing tools (eg. brush and gradient tool) in JavE. The entry may contain parts made with FIGlet, JavE's fractal tool and similar tools, as long as it is not the only content.
The entry must be previously unreleased and it must be uploaded as a Deviation. Submit it to Deviation > Contests & Projects > Contests > Non-Existent > ASCII/ANSI. Preferably submit a preview image in PNG format and a text/ANS file to accompany it.
You can enter one picture in each of the two categories, but you may only win one prize. If you submit more entries, only the newest one in either category will be considered. If your entry is located in the wrong category, the jury can move it - but if this would mean you'd now have two entries in the same category, the older one will not be
Collaborations are allowed, as they're common in the ASCII and ANSI scene. However the prizes will not be increased for such entries, so it's up to the collaborators to decide who gets the prize. Of course collaborations also count towards your personal entry limit.
The picture must consist of plain text (as in, you must be able to open the image in Notepad or a similar text editor), using a fixed-with font (such as but not limited to Fixedsys, Courier or Lucida Console). The entry must not contain any non-ASCII characters. Only 7-bit ASCII is allowed (see the green part of this table for a list of the allowed characters). Colors or animations are not allowed. The picture can be intended for viewing on either white on black or black on white.
The entry must be made in the MS-DOS font. It can make use of ANSI colors and extended characters. ANSI animations are not allowed. The entry does not have to be colored or use raster blocks or other extender characters, but if it doesn't make any use of these techniques the judges can move it to the ASCII category. Submit a preview image in a reasonable size, as not everyone has an ANSI viewer installed on their computer.
The contest is open until the 25th of November 2006. The entries can be edited until the deadline.
There is a total of six prizes given out:
1st prize in both categories: a copy of the Dark Domain DVD from ACiD Productions and a one-year subscription to DeviantART
2nd prize in both categories: a six-month subscription to DeviantART
3rd prize in both categories: a three-month subscription to DeviantART
The prizes have been generously supplied by $Moonbeam13 and `Aeires.
The entries will be judged by ~diamondie, ~jSepia, `roy-sac, `Aeires, `halfliquid and $Moonbeam13. Besides the technical skill and style alone the judges will also take into account the creativity of the piece and how well it makes use of the theme.
ASCII Art Tutorial by ~diamondie
Solid ASCII Art Tutorial by ~jSepia
Other ASCII tutorials
Unfortunately I wasn't able to locate any ANSI tutorials. Archive.org has some, but they have been archived without the images, which makes them pretty useless. However most people have learned to draw ANSI by just looking at the works drawn by other people.
You can create ASCII art in any text editor (such as Notepad), but it's more convenient to use a dedicated ASCII editor, as they offer useful features like moving and copying of rectangular blocks and different viewing modes. JavE even has Photoshop-like tools such as brushes and PabloDraw lets multiple people work on the same picture simultaneously via the Internet. For ANSI art you're going to need an editor program.
JavE an ASCII editor (Java, runs on most operating systems)
PabloDraw an ASCII/ANSI editor (Windows)
ACiDDraw an ASCII/ANSI editor (MS-DOS, runs on most Windows machines)
To capture ANSI pictures and ASCII pictures drawn to be viewed in MS-DOS, you can use either PabloView or ACiDView (both Windows).
Let the typing begin!