Are you a visual artist with tons of images in your head but only time to develop a few? Maybe try them out on Twitter in the form of Unicode art. Because of the 140 character limit, you can’t waste too much time on each design, and – through replies and retweeting – people will tell you which subjects and compositions are successful.
Below is a set that’s generally considered safe. Its characters are common, of identical width, and will likely appear the same in most platforms and browsers. Simply drag-select and copy/paste it into your favorite text editor.
starter character set:
╒╓ ╕╖╘╙ ╛╜╞╟ ╡╢╤╥ ╧╨ ╪╫
You arrange the characters like puzzle pieces so they form words or images. (Disable page style to see it as it would appear in Twitter.)
For this character set’s art to wrap correctly in Twitter at standard zoom (100%), you’ll want to make each design 22+ characters wide and 6- rows tall.
A line break counts as a character, so it’s actually 23x6=138. In Twitter, a “tweet” message must be 140 characters or fewer.
Important: If you feel like playing with Unicode characters other than those in my "starter character set," first test them in Twitter's "What's happening?" post window in multiple (2 or more) internet browsers. If your art looks messed up in any of those post windows, don't hit the "tweet" button.
This section is for those having trouble viewing tweet designs.
Twitter art always aligns best in Firefox. If you're going to view a lot of it, you might want to temporarily switch browsers.
Chrome has the next best character support and has exceptional text-smoothing.
Internet Explorer is okay if you adjust the font setting (see below).
Safari is the least reliable.
If tweets are wrapping poorly, try zooming in or out (control/command +/-).
Sometimes a tweet design will work better depending on where you view it. If it looks bad in the timeline, try it in the sidebar or direct link.
If the tweet characters appear as a bunch of rectangles, try changing the font. In Internet Explorer for MS Windows (above image), I've found that switching to Lucida Sans Unicode will reveal many missing characters. I'm unable to test on other platforms, so if you find other solutions, PLEASE COMMENT BELOW.
I haven't had much luck with Arial Unicode in most browsers. If you're having the problem depicted in the image above, switch to another font. Again, Lucida Sans Unicode is usually my first choice, as it has the most consistent line width. If you compare the Arial & Lucida images above, the Arial line widths are deviating depending on where the Unicode characters are positioned.
(updated May 9, 2011: modified "ASCII art" misnomer. ASCII only refers to alphanumeric characters [abc,123,;-#].)