ASCII Art Synthesis from Natural Photographs

Xuemiao Xu, Linyuan Zhong, Minshan Xie, Xueting Liu, Jing Qin, Tien Tsin Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


While ASCII art is a worldwide popular art form, automatic generating structure-based ASCII art from natural photographs remains challenging. The major challenge lies on extracting the perception-sensitive structure from the natural photographs so that a more concise ASCII art reproduction can be produced based on the structure. However, due to excessive amount of texture in natural photos, extracting perception-sensitive structure is not easy, especially when the structure may be weak and within the texture region. Besides, to fit different target text resolutions, the amount of the extracted structure should also be controllable. To tackle these challenges, we introduce a visual perception mechanism of non-classical receptive field modulation (non-CRF modulation) from physiological findings to this ASCII art application, and propose a new model of non-CRF modulation which can better separate the weak structure from the crowded texture, and also better control the scale of texture suppression. Thanks to our non-CRF model, more sensible ASCII art reproduction can be obtained. In addition, to produce more visually appealing ASCII arts, we propose a novel optimization scheme to obtain the optimal placement of proportional-font characters. We apply our method on a rich variety of images, and visually appealing ASCII art can be obtained in all cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7491376
Pages (from-to)1910-1923
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • ASCII art synthesis
  • non-classical receptive field modulation
  • texture suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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