Fractal art made easy

Anyone who says math isn’t pretty should take a look at some decent fractal art.

Hi. My name is Marty Schulte, aka Martygras. I’ve received several compliments on the fractal artwork that I have been posting here, and even more questions about how they were created. I can’t even begin to tell you how cool it is to have people enjoy the graphic work I’ve done, but I can tell you how to do it. I’ll even try to do it without sounding pretentious or writing in the 3rd person. ;)

I should start with a brief (as possible) description of what fractals are.

To oversimplify, a fractal is a geometric shape containing unique features that are repeated on a smaller scale. Also called “self similarity”. This attribute is found in natures building blocks and is one reason why fractal artwork can resemble patterns that appear in nature. (Wikipedia has a more technical definition for those of you wanting extra credit.)

There are many programs available to create fractal art. Fractint, Ultrafractal, Terragen, Sterling, Apophysis and several others.

I’ve used most of the above mentioned programs, but felt distinctly attracted to the results I got using Apophysis.

Apophysis is a fractal flame editor and renderer. It was created by Mark Townsend by translating Scott Draves’ original code and adding a graphical user interface.

What’s interesting to me is the way Apophysis applies mutations to the fractal shapes (called flames). Each repetition introduces a mutation to color, density and direction which are all controlled by parameters specified by the user. By varying the parameters these images can resemble smoke, leaves, bugs, galaxies or just about anything else in nature.

Apophysis is freeware and open source, which means anyone can help to develop and improve upon it.

Anyone who can understand programming languages that is.

Users are making available, small programs called scripts which run within Apophysis to allow even more functionality such as creating animated and three dimensional fractals.

When I started many years ago, there were no forums or tutorials like there are now, so it was a very steep learning curve. Although by exploring the program by myself I may have found some very different approaches to creating fractal flames than are covered in the tutorials.

As I’ve already stated, Apophysis is free, and is now available for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX.

I hope I have inspired some of you to give it a try and will leave you with this advice.Be patient, because for every hundred or so images, you may get 1 or 2 keepers.

…and share your images with us please.

You can download Apophysis at:

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