The results are, well, basic. But they can have plenty of retro appeal, and producing them is a whole lot easier than you think.
REXPaint is a free portable ASCII art editor for Windows XP and later which delivers a surprising amount of features and functionality.
The program’s text-based menus seem a little unusual at first, but otherwise it works much like any other graphics editor.
You’ll start by choosing a “font”, a text character, then clicking and dragging over the canvas to draw.
There are tools to draw lines, rectangles or ovals, which again work just like other paint programs. Click, drag to size your shape, release when you’re happy or hit Ctrl+Z to undo.
A colour picker on the sidebar makes it easy to change colours as required, and the Fill tool fills an entire region with your preferred shade.
There’s a Zoom option, although it’s well hidden. Click one of the “< >” characters below the Font selector and RexPaint steps the font size up or down, increasing or decreasing the picture’s dimensions.
REXPaint even has layers support to handle more complex designs.
When you’re finished, your project may be saved in the program’s native format, or exported as PNG, XML, CSV, BBCode or TXT.
REXPaint is an amazing ASCII art editor, definitely worth a look if you’re interested in this area. But if you’re still not quite sure, check out the developer’s “Features” page, where animated GIFs show various editing features in action