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ANSi / ASCII art to PNG converter in C
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This is a complete rewrite of AnsiLove/PHP in the C programming language. It converts ANSi and artscene related file formats into PNG images. Unlike the PHP variant, AnsiLove/C is intended as UNIX command line tool you install preferably to /usr/bin. The project is considered as completed and stable, current version is 2.0.0.


AnsiLove/C is strictly using the C99 standard to achieve high portability to all major operating systems. It's developed from ground up with the vision to compile just fine on your platform. Be sure to link against libgd when compiling which is also needed when running the binary. Supported compilers are GCC and Clang, others may work but aren't tested. All files include the C standard headers. An exception is compilation on Mac OS X, where defines in the sources ensure importing <Foundation/Foundation.h>. In other words: on the Mac, the resulting binary is a Foundation tool. We use Mac OS X and Linux for AnsiLove/C development. You'll find a Xcode project file in this repository. Additional there's a shell script that builds AnsiLove/C on Ubuntu, it should compile on other distros as well. Feel free to fork and add custom build scripts for your own platform, Homebrew formulas, Linux packages, whatever.

Why C?

There were many reasons, most notably PHP interpreter independence and performance. A solid C foundation is just perfect for creating libraries and frameworks and it can easily embedded into applications. We already mentioned portability. What else? We wanted evolution. AnsiLove/C should not be understood as a port. It takes many different approaches (like processing binary font dumps or generating @2x Retina images), it is overall improved and introduces new features. While results tend to be the same, the codebase does not have much in common with it's ancestor.

Cocoa bridge

If you're looking for something to implement into your Cocoa applications, we highly recommend taking a look at AnsiLove.framework, which is actively maintained by @ByteProject. It uses AnsiLove/C as rendering library and provides a Cocoa layer on top of it.


Rendering of all known ANSi / ASCII art file types:

  • ANSi (.ANS)
  • Binary (.BIN)
  • Artworx (.ADF)
  • iCE Draw (.IDF)
  • Xbin (.XB) details
  • PCBoard (.PCB)
  • Tundra (.TND) details
  • ASCII (.ASC)
  • Release info (.NFO)
  • Description in zipfile (.DIZ)

Files with custom suffix default to the ANSi renderer (e.g. ICE or CIA).

AnsiLove/C is capabable of processing:

  • SAUCE records
  • DOS and Amiga fonts (embedded binary dump)
  • iCE colors

Even more:

  • Output files are highly optimized 4-bit PNGs.
  • Optionally generates additional (and proper) Retina @2x PNG.
  • You can use custom operands for adjusting output results.
  • Built-in support for rendering Amiga ASCII.


One major goal for AnsiLove/C was implementing the look and feel of common UNIX command line tools. We strictly follow the IEEE Std 1003.1 for utility conventions while maintaining compabtiblity with GNU. Users comfortable with either one or the other standard should feel home.


ansilove file -i [operands]
ansilove file -ir [operands]
ansilove file -o output [operands]
ansilove file -or output [operands]
ansilove file -s
ansilove -vhe


-i   output identical to input with .png suffix added
-ir  same as -i, creates additional Retina @2x output file
-o   specify custom file name / path for output
-or  same as -o, creates additional Retina @2x output file
-s   display SAUCE record without generating output
-v   version information, equivalent to --version
-h   show help, equivalent to --help
-e   print a list of examples

Hint: Don't add .png suffix when specifying a custom path/name for output as it will be added automatically.


font bits icecolors columns

Optional values to adjust output. There are certain cases where you need to set operands for proper rendering. However, this is occassionally. Results turn out well with the built-in defaults. You may launch AnsiLove with the option -e to get a list of basic examples, with and without operands. Note that columns is restricted to BIN files, it won't affect other file types. It's also worth mentioning that setting a certain operand requires to set all operands before, so if you need to modifiy the icecolors operand, you have to set font and bits as well. On the other hand, it's fine to set the font operand while not setting any of the following. Got that?

font (operand)

We dumped many fonts as binary data right into AnsiLove/C, so the most popular typefaces for rendering ANSi / ASCII art are available at your fingertips.

PC fonts can be (all case-sensitive):

  • 80x25 (code page 437)
  • 80x50 (code page 437, 80x50 mode)
  • baltic (code page 775)
  • cyrillic (code page 855)
  • french-canadian (code page 863)
  • greek (code page 737)
  • greek-869 (code page 869)
  • hebrew (code page 862)
  • icelandic (Code page 861)
  • latin1 (code page 850)
  • latin2 (code page 852)
  • nordic (code page 865)
  • portuguese (Code page 860)
  • russian (code page 866)
  • terminus (modern font, code page 437)
  • turkish (code page 857)

AMIGA fonts can be (all case-sensitive):

  • amiga (alias to Topaz)
  • microknight (Original MicroKnight version)
  • microknight+ (Modified MicroKnight version)
  • mosoul (Original mO'sOul font)
  • pot-noodle (Original P0T-NOoDLE font)
  • topaz (Original Topaz Kickstart 2.x version)
  • topaz+ (Modified Topaz Kickstart 2.x+ version)
  • topaz500 (Original Topaz Kickstart 1.x version)
  • topaz500+ (Modified Topaz Kickstart 1.x version)

bits (operand)

bits can be (all case-sensitive):

  • 8 (8-bit)
  • 9 (9-bit)
  • ced
  • transparent
  • workbench

Setting the bits to 9 will render the 9th column of block characters, so the output will look like it is displayed in real textmode.

Setting the bits to ced will cause the input file to be rendered in black on gray, and limit the output to 78 columns (only available for ANS files). Used together with an AMIGA font, the output will look like it is displayed on Amiga.

Setting the bits to workbench will cause the input file to be rendered using Amiga Workbench colors (only available for ANS files).

Settings the bits to transparent will produce output files with transparent background (only available for ANS files).

icecolors (operand)

icecolors can be:

  • 0
  • 1

Setting icecolors to 1 will enable iCE color codes. On the opposite 0 means that that icecolors are disabled, which is the default value. When an ANSi source was created using iCE colors, it was done with a special mode where the blinking was disabled, and you had 16 background colors available. Basically, you had the same choice for background colors as for foreground colors, that's iCE colors. But now the important part: when the ANSi source does not make specific use of iCE colors, you should NOT set this flag. The file could look pretty weird in normal mode. So in most cases it's fine to turn iCE colors off.

columns (operand)

columns is only relevant for ANSi source files with BIN extension and even for those files optional. In most cases conversion will work fine if you don't set this flag, the default value is 160 then. So please pass columns only to BIN files and only if you exactly know what you're doing. A KITTEN MAY DIE SOMEWHERE.

SAUCE records

It's fine to use AnsiLove/C as SAUCE reader without generating any output, just set option -s for this purpose.

Who pulls the strings

AnsiLove/C is developed by Stefan Vogt (@ByteProject), Brian Cassidy (@bricas) and Frederic Cambus (@fcambus).


AnsiLove/C is released under a MIT-style license. See the file LICENSE for details.

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