Press "Enter" to skip to content

Databending images with text editor

Databending is taking a digital format and manipulating it with tools designed for other formats. For example, images hacked in a text editor, images edited with audio processors, etc. There are many ways to go about this and I’m just getting my feet wet with the concept. Today I played around with editing an image in a text editor.

The first step was to convert the .jpg to the uncompressed .bmp format (TIFF and RAW will also work). I did this with Skitch but any image editor can do it. You want to use an uncompressed format because there is more data to work with and they’re less fragile.

Here’s the original image (resized for the web)

IMG_2624 2

The first snag was getting the bmp file to open as text in TextWrangler. The solution was to use ExtraFile to convert to CCI format. ExtraFile can produce glitch effects on its own with some of the weird formats like USPEC.

The CCI format opened up as a massive chunk of text in TextWrangler. From there it’s a matter of copy and pasting chunks or find & replace a few characters.

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 4.59.45 PM

After making a change I did a save-as to a new CCI file. I then open up in ExtraFile to preview and save-as back to jpg.


I made a few bent images then dropped them into GIFQuickMaker to make a gif.

and the result is this big gif:

It’s kinda fun experimenting with this. You don’t know what you’re going to get and since the point is to make things look broken it’s probably going to work out fine. As I continue experimenting I’ll be moving on to audio and video hacking.

A couple more links that helped out today


  1. everyonemusic
    everyonemusic August 7, 2016

    Very fun stuff, thanks for posting this. When I convert to CCI using ExtraFile, it keeps cropping my images only including the top left corner. I can’t seem to figure out why….

Leave a Reply