ASCII Notation for Balloon Sculptures

       \   ____  (__)=
         ())   ())      balloon doggie
                         - Mark Balzer

Standard ascii methods for describing balloon creations with
mono-spaced (non-proportional) fonts, like “Courier”

General Guidelines

  1. <use spaces, not tabs when constructing ascii drawings!!!
    Tabs have different lengths on different systems, and the combination of spaces and tabs will make your pictures unrecognizable.
  2. If you find you need to make a correction or an addition to a post which describes a sculpture in detail, please include the ENTIRE set of instructions for the figure in your update. Also, clearly mark addition/correction to the previous one. Why? Because we maintain a listing of every email ever sent which contains sculpture instructions, the Sculptures in Messages portion of the Guide. When there are multiple emails each containing a part of the instructions, it makes maintaining the SIM list much more difficult. If each sculpture email is complete and independant, it will be more usable to others who access the information in the future.
  3. The first step of your sculpture instructions must clearly identify how much of the balloon should be filled; i.e. “Blow up the balloon leaving an X inch long uninflated nipple.”

Legend for method 1

()	-	One/half inch bubble (need we go smaller?)
(=)	-	One inch bubble
(=-)	-	One and one half inch bubble
(==)	-	Two inch bubble,  etc.  For long bubles, use (L=) where L is
                    the Length of the bubble in inches.  ie. (30=) for a 30" 
[]	-	Same as other bubbles,  but bent in the middle
xn	-	Twist connection (where n = the number of the connection)
O	-	Pop bubble
(@)     -       Apple twist
(!)     -       Pop twist

If I designed it right, this should be the classic dog with a 1 1/2 inch nose, 2 ears bent in the middle, and connected to the back of the nose. A 1 inch neck follows, then two more one inch bent legs connected to the neck. 3 inches of middle and two 1 inch bent legs connected to the middle followed by a 2 inch tail.


a pop-twist used to generate two legs & paws:

 . (==)x1[=]x1(=)!x2[=]x2(==) ...

a tulip becomes:


If more than one balloon is used we can group the twists in a single balloon with ‘{‘ and ‘}’. We can still use xN to designate twists as long as N continues to increment with twists in the new balloons. That way a previous xN can be used to show where the new balloon gets connected.

this would be two balloons twisted together:


Legend for method 2

(x)    -   x inch long bubble
(xA)   -   apple twist
(xET)  -   ear-twist
(*)    -   pop-twist
(xAL)  -   for arm loop as in a standing bear... would also serve
             as a leg loop.. the two are the same, and are nothing 
             more than LARGE ear twists any way.
(.5),( 1 ),( 1.5 ),(  2  ),

etc for the different sizes.. [spaces are optional within the paren’s, but might give a better sense of size].

The X’s and numbers I found to be confusing between the bubbles. Not all bubble ends are twisted around one another. The paws of the basic dog for example are just the two ends of bubbles, no locking twists. So, how about a capital letter at each point thats to be locked together. the basic dog now looks like.

   ( 1.5 )A( 1 )A( 1 )A(.5)B(  2  )(  2  )B(   3    )C(  2  )(  2  )C( tail )



Special bubbles could have abbreviations for them.. ie: ear-twist is ET.. a half inch eartwist could be (.5ET) If you want to pop the bubble between two ear-twists us *.. size doesn’t matter for this, but you have to realize that each ear-twist must be twisted around 5 or 6 times before pop the center bubble… notation.. (.5ET)(*)(.5ET)

A bubble made by pushing the finger in, then twisting off is the apple twist.. its what I use to make the nose for a bunny. So (1A) for one inch apple.

The bird body…. It’s three balloons, with one pushed through.

 (1)A( 2 )B( 2 )A( 2 )B( rest of the balloon)

Now the bunny head.

(1A)A(1.5)B(1.5)A(1.5P)B(2)B(2)B(1)A(off to the legs)
nose |head with cheeks|  ears |neck| rest of the bunny

Please note, the nose is a (1A) with the A inside to show an apple twist. This might work better with a half inch bubble.

Legend for method 3

Knot:     .
  Uninflated balloon: ... length proportional to the following.
  Bubbles:   (_) this is the smallest bubble 0.5"
            (__) this is 1".  add an underscore above and below for each 0.5"
          This makes the size of bubble linearly proportional to the
          real size.
          Putting the no. inside the bubble is fine too.  But I think
          it is not important.  The impression of the proportion is
          enough.  Measure a bubble that your think is 2" and see how
          long it actually is... you'll be surprised.  When you have
          associated the screen image with the actual bubble, then it
          is very easy to tell.

  Order:  diagrams are read from left to right, top to bottom.  There
          is no confusion which bubble is made first, which is second,
          third etc.

  Twists:   lines like this \_______/ are drawn to indicate connections:
             ___  __  __
           .(___)(__)(__)     nose and ears of a classic dog.
             __  ___  ___
           .(__)(___)(___)    mickey mouse nose and ears.
                \___/\___/    the bubbles are folded in the middle as
                              clearly indicated.
            whether the twist lines are above or below is unimportant.

  Tugs:     Similar to the above.  When a bubble x is tugged between
            two bubbles y and z, y and z must be twisted together
            already.  So, a line is drawn with one end from the middle
            of x, the other end connected to the middle of the twist
            line of y and z.  The positions of the ends of the line
            indicate whether the whole bubble x is rolled behind y and
            z or just a portion.  The starting place is marked by a
            slash, the ending by a vertical bar.
             y          z
             __  ________  ________
                 ____/___  _______________________
          The above is a swan.  The whole bubble x is rolled behind
          y and z.  Sometimes I'd like to roll only half of x
          behind y and z, like this:
              y          z
             __  ________  ________
                 ______/_  _______________________
          The profile of the above swan will be like this:
           (  )..           (this diagram is, of course, not
            \ \              part of my formalism.  It is just
             \ \             an insert to illustrate my point)
              \ \
            __ \ \
       __  (__-_\_\
            When a bubble is inserted between two bubbles:
          A french poodle head:
          ____  ____  ____  __
            \    \__________/

  Labels:   feel free to add labels and other descriptive words:
      A classic dog will be:
       nose   ears  neck  legs   body    legs    tail
        ___  __  __  __  __  __  ______  __  __  ____
            \______/    \______/        \______/

  More visual aids:
            It is nice to start a new line after every twist line.
        ___  __  __
      .(___)(__)(__)  nose & ears
            \______/                           CLASSIC DOG again.
             __  __  __                        this may be more visual.
            (__)(__)(__)  neck & legs
                 ______  __  __
                (______)(__)(__)  body & legs
                        (____).... tail
      tail      3-part body
        __  ________  ________                 More visual SWAN
           \__________________/       bend this bubble until it
                   _______|           looks like a swan neck.
            ______/_  _______________________
        ______/______  ____  ____  \           SNOOPY
      .(_____________)(____)(____)  | 	
                \__________/  |   wrap around and tug half-way
                 __  ____  ____
                          \__        (notice the direction here
                        _____|____    is significant, that's why
                  ____ /____  ____\   a vertical bar is used)

  Start:   Start by describing how much air to inflate.  

  Complete Example:

      start with 6" of uninflated balloon.
                   ear       ear
        nose        __        __
        ____  ____ /__\ ____ /__\ ____
       \     \________________________/
           __  ___  ___
          (__)(___)(___)    neck and arms
               __  ___  ___
              (__)(___)(___)    body and legs
               (_).      tail

Legend for method 4

n    A number representing a length in some standard unit.  inches?
     n, not surrounded by anything is a bit of uninflated or deflated

(n)  A bubble of length n.

X    A letter [A-Za-z] representing a twist.  This can be anywhere except
     inside a bubble.  Actually I suppose this can be defined as a letter
     or nothing so that we can say X is always between bubbles.

[n]  A bubble that's been folded in half or an ear twist.
     n can be followed by optional modifiers when inside a bubble:

@    Apple twist.

!    This bubble gets popped.  Hmm, n doesn't need to be present in this

Gallery of Balloon ASCII art


       Squeak, squeak, SQUEEEEEAAAK....
           ______________  ____  ____  ____

       SQUeak, squEAK, squeak...  Ta-dah!

       \   ____  (__)=
         ())   ())

     Here's a balloon animal...
     Now get away from me, kid; you bother me.
I like using balloon sticks on some characters. It can make them look classy. For example, a 6 inch heart looks much better on a clip n’ stick. Animals can be stuck into the birthday cake carousel style. Small flowers on sticks can fit into floral center pieces with ferns and other greenery. These sticks (or drinking straws) can be used as legs on a flamingo (make a pink swan).

I made a mother swan from a 260 and sent her out upon the waters, but she tipped in the wind. So, I taped a quarter to a cello-straw (about 16 inches, but 8 inches would do, I think), and put it on the swan. She made the other shore! Use the straw and coin act as a keel and ballast.

       =<  _\
          ) /
         / /      _
        ( (___.,-' )
             | <=== balloon straw
             o <=== coin or washer
       =<_  \
          ) /
         / /      _
        ( (___.,-' )
          (____>-._)  swan

MB 12/13/95
SKB 01/30/98