This week one of my students asked me how to recreate the ascii style pig found in Russell Spangler’s ‘Whatcha Know About Bacon’ viz. My initial reaction was that deconstructing Spangler vizzes usually hurts my brain, yet as an old school gammer, ascii text seemed within my grasp. It turns out that I figured it out (with some help) and have made it easy for anyone to replicate in less than 5 MINUTES!
I started down the path, but couldn’t quite figure out the next steps to take after I found a web utility to convert an image to ascii. So I reach out to Russell on Twitter for some inspiration, and his guidance suggested that I was very close. I added a conversion step using an Excel template found here: ASCII ART to DATA TABLE
Start by visiting picascii.com and uploading a small picture. White backgrounds make the image pop the best.
This step shows the original image, to ascii image, to where you paste it into my Excel Template. This template is setup to take images that are less than 150 characters wide and less than 150 lines tall. If you need more space, you can just copy all of the formulas to a larger area.
From here you can copy the table from the ‘ASCII Data’ tab and paste it into Tableau. If you expanded the rows or columns on the previous sheet, the formulas need to extend down to row # (Height x Width)+1.
As I started to play around more with the options, I found that using circles and varying size, while putting the value on color came up with some cool looking results. The values are discrete, but when I apply a gradient palette, it gives the image depth. Here I also had to exclude NULLS form value.