Converting Images to ASCII Art With Automator

You can use Automator to apply Apple system (Quartz) filters to image files. This simple Automator app will convert an image to ASCII art. There are color and size options you can adjust to get the look you want. You can also try out some of the other Quartz filters for various effects.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Converting Images to ASCII Art With Automator.

So let's have a little fun with Automator and create a script that will convert an image to ASCII text. If you don't know what that is you're going to find out in a second.

So here I am in Automator. I'm going to create a new workflow. Actually I'm going to make it an Application so I can use this to drag and drop later on. So I'll just select Application here. I'll hit Choose. Now I'm really only going to use one action. I'm going to search for it by looking for quartz. There are several different actions here that have quartz in them. I'm going to choose the one Apply quartz Composition Filter to Image Files. So this basically processes an image. I'm going to drag and drop it in here. It's going to suggest that I make a copy of the photo first. In other words, don't just process the image and save it but actually make a copy of it and process the copy. So I'm going to agree with that and hit Add. I'm going to set it to desktop so anything that I use with this it's going to make a copy on the desktop and then it's going to apply this quartz filter to it.

So let's Save this now. I'm going to save it as ASCII Filter on the desktop as File Format Application. You can see it appear here and the great thing about having an Automator workflow that's an application is now I can drag and drop files to it. You can see here at the top it says Application receives files in folders as input. Which is what we want.

Now we have to modify the composition. Now I already have it set here to the Default which is going to create this nice effect here. So we can test it out with this. Let me hit Save again to make sure this is updated with the latest and I'm going to drag and drop an image to it. So I've got an image here of my dog. I'm going to drag and drop it onto the filter and it's going to create a copy here on the desktop. Now when I look at the copy I can see it has applied that filter. Here's the original and it has applied that filter to it.

So now let's get really creative here. I'm going to delete this and change to ASCII Art. There's a lot of other cool filters you can play around with. So let's change to ASCII Art here and see what we've got. It's going to ask for an amount and we'll play around with those settings and see what we get. Also Override Color, so it's going to override the color there and put this color in it's place instead. Let's pick black as a color instead of green. Now we'll get all black characters there. Then let's Save, Command S to save. Drag and Drop. And the result, notice it only takes a second for the iCloud change, but it does change, double click on it and there is the ASCII Art.

You can change this amount here so instead of .25, let's see what happens when we change to .5. We'll hit Save. So we can guess what we'll get as a result. So here's the new copy and you can see it's not as useful. Let's delete these here. Let's change this to something like .15. Now let's Save it again and we'll get this third one and that's actually kind of cool so I may want to save that as one and I can drag and drop other images to it.

So, for instance, here's an image of me. I'll drag and drop that and it converts that there. There's a lot going on in that image so it's not as good but you get the basic idea.

What's even more interesting is if we change the override color setting to Do Not Override Color. We save and then we'll do that same thing here and now we can see that not only did it change it to ASCII Art but it also used the colors for the characters there so you get a lot more definition in the photo itself.

You can play around with some of these other filters here. For instance, Crystalize, Pixelate, and Comic Book. They all are kind of interesting. Let me Save, now that I have Comic Book selected, drag Jack there and then look at the result.

Comments: One Response to “Converting Images to ASCII Art With Automator”

    2 years ago

    Thank you! For this tutorial with automator. This is great!

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