10 Fractals and a Movie

Have I mentioned what a great addition to the fractal world Fractalforums.com is?  As someone who likes to review exciting new things in fractal art it’s really made my job much easier.  Before, I used to wander around Flickr or check out links on the UF mailing list or just stumble on something while surfing around.  I’ll probably have to go back to that again sometime, but until then I’ve got this alien planet filled with fractal treasure to report and review on.

It's more than a forum, it's a wild alien planet of the UNEXPECTED (image from Coverbrowser.com)

There’s been a lot of development in the area of 3D fractals and the results, as I’ve been saying lately, have been impressive.  But one can still create interesting 3D work with some of the older methods.  The Stone Path is a good example of one of the older 3D techniques called height field (or something) and gives the impression of perspective though a special rendering trick.  These sorts of images aren’t usually very interesting, but this one by the username, Duncan C is a tasteful combination of subtle coloring and a well chosen perspective.  It’s not a marvel of cutting edge fractal rendering, but that makes it even more of an accomplishment because Duncan C is using well established techniques to produce an image that is equal to the others in it’s overall impression.

Stone Path by Duncan C, 2010

Buddhi seems to have created his own unique style of fractals in these smudgy, glowing 3D creations.  If you look carefully you’ll see lines on the x or y or z or whatever axes.  It’s a nice, technical, lab-diagram, touch in an image with such strong artistic style.  I reviewed one of these types of images before.  They’re really stylish and not like anything else I’ve seen.

Trigonometric 3D Mandelbrot by Buddhi, 2010

Here’s an interesting Mandelbox by Dave Makin created in Ultra Fractal and titled New Rome detail.  The name I’m sure comes from the similarity the image shares with the ruins of the Colosseum in Rome.  The three dimensional details in this, and the excellent coloring which makes them stand out and look like such a carefully constructed and ornamented building is what caught my eye in this one.  It’s got amazing photorealism and shows how vivid and tangible these sorts of 3D fractals can be.

New Rome detail by Dave Makin, 2010

Elephant Canyon by bib, is another example of the older 3D style –or at least what appears to be the more traditional 3D style in fractals.  I think this is actually a “slice” of a Mandelbulb.  The contrast between the smooth, golden plain of the slice and the rough, craggy cliff of the edges is what gives this image its effect.  To me it almost suggests something about fractals themselves; that one often discovers things by accidentally falling off the edge or by traversing some huge empty plain and discovering at the horizon an abyss filled with rich and limitless detail.  This image was actually posted in a thread, Re: Problem replicating Mandelbulb power 2 and intended to be merely an additional illustration of the problem.  This comment by bib, accompanied his posting of the image: “Yes it’s always difficult to properly render the power 2, there too many chaotic shapes and calculation artifacts. When I saw this post I wanted to try again, so I did this image called “Elephant Canyon”. Nothing very original, but I like it smiley

Elephant Canyon by bib, 2010

Frozen in space. That’s what I think when I look at this one.  Another by Buddhi and having the same touch of the schematic style to it.  There’s an interesting structure formed by the repeating “bits” that form in a line off the major “pieces”.  Although this one is relatively monotone (one color), the lighting and surface texture effects are actually enhanced by the simple coloring.  That’s what makes art such a strange bird to capture and study: sometimes simpler things have a more powerful effect and sometimes they’re just simple.  The central core of the main object, back in the dark area, has an almost paint brushed appearance.  I guess that dark shadowed area is what draws our eye into it, but who can really say?  Trying to explain what makes an image impressive can often be futile as well as not being terribly exciting to read.

Hypercomplex Julia by Buddhi, 2010

I guess it wouldn’t be called Mandelbox castle if it wasn’t a Mandelbox.  Once again the title really catches the essential quality of the image.  I particularly like how the moonlight (it’s nighttime) shines on the floor under the arch in the area to the right of the center.  If you’ve ever played Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (video game) then you’ll probably immediately think of the part of the game where the Prince had to walk along the tops of stone walls, fight big birds and then get into the room above the gate where the gate opening mechanism was.  Or others.  There were so many nighttime scenes in that game featuring different parts of an Indian castle.  Maybe game developers will pick up on the Mandelbox and produce a game that actually takes place inside one.  You could change the castle just by starting the game with a new set of parameters.

Mandelbox castle by bib, 2010

A pretty unusual color palette in this one by Jesse entitled Teeth but it works really well.  I would never have thought florescent yellows and greens could look so natural.  This is the “S2 cube”, which I assume is a variety of the Mandelbox.  Reminds me of a man-made planet in a sci-fi story.  Here’s another one with the same coloring and looking just as natural and appealing too.  Jesse seems to make some of the most unusual and offbeat versions of these 3D fractals.  He’s obviously experimenting with more than just the coloring, although he’s done a great job just with that alone.

Teeth, by Jesse, 2010

Teeth by Jesse, 2010

This is another by Jesse taken from his Supercubes gallery section on Fractalforums.com.  Have you ever seen such a freaky fractal and with so much bizarre and yet carefully constructed detail?  They’re like egg cannisters and they grow on the sides of the bigger egg things in strange patterns and all over the place too.  I remember back in my early days of using Sterlingware, I was zooming into a fractal that seemed to be made of red velvet curtains.  The “curtains” were quite intriguing but then while zooming in further I discovered shiny eggs growing under them.  All this makes it rather difficult to define what a fractal is or to explain to someone what fractal graphics look like.  There’s just too many freaky things to be found.  There’s fractals and then there’s “freak-tals“.

Birth by Jesse, 2010

Xenodream has not been left out of the 3D fractal craze here.  This one is by xenodreambuie and had the label, Triplex Z=rcosphi Julias.  I think a better title would be Catalog of the Fractal Brains.  They’re all very rich in well rendered, three dimensional details and colored well even though I think the method is a fairly basic one.  The numbers are in there for technical reference of course, but I think they add a nice artistic touch as well.  This would make a very appealing wall poster.  I’ll bet if you showed this image to people and asked them what kind of textbook it came from they’d all guess it was Biology and not Math.

Triplex Z=rcosphi Julias by xenodreambuie, 2010

Arch detail by Tglad (2010 Nobel Prize Winner, incidently) is interesting for the, well, details of this arch it shows…  Another great title.  See how the section in the lower right appears to be eroded away?  That’s all algorithmic.  The main arch structure off center to the left is interesting too with its floating triangle center.  The coloring gives it all the impression of being carved from wood or some sort of soft stone.  There’s always something new to see in the Mandelbox.  I think it’s going to be a popular formula for some time.

arch detail by Tglad, 2010

I said 10 fractals and a movie and here’s the movie.  I forget how I stumbled on this one.  I think I saw it amongst the entries in the current Fractalforums.com contest in the animation section.  However I didn’t actually view it right away (that’s a problem with animation, you can’t just take a quick glance at it).  I only looked at it for the first time while visiting subblue’s website (subblue.com).  For those of you who often skip videos if you don’t happen to like the title picture, this video features a very good soundtrack which straddles the categories of sound effects and slow paced instrumental music.  Also featured is some of subblue’s special, black and white, polished steel renderings of the Mandelbulb.  It’s some of the best video rendering of the Mandelbulb actually.  Anyhow, with good graphics and a smooth professional soundtrack, it’s worth taking a look at.

The music is actually not by subblue but by The Formula.  Here’s a link to subblue’s blog which has a larger version of the video and has a bit more information as well as a very long string of glowing comments.

The Formula from subBlue on Vimeo.

Well, there you go; 10 fractals and a movie.  And it didn’t even cost you 10cents like Tales of the Unexpected comic books did fifty years ago.  The internet is just a such a great and wonderful thing.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

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6 thoughts on “10 Fractals and a Movie

  1. Duncan M. Champney creates some very interesting, and quite attractive images. I always enjoy seeing what he will come up with next and post to the Forums.

    And Krzysztof Marczak (Buddhi) likes to do a lot of exploring and experimenting when it comes to fractals. He is definitely not your typical DeviantArt member.

    For a PCM Business Development Manager, Jérémie Brunet (bib) sure knows his way around the fractal arena. And the two images you chose are just a start on the very nice works by him.

    The great thing about Jesse Dierks is the program he has written to create those wonderful images. Without “Mandlebulb3D” there would be a lot less interesting fractals to view, and not as much fun to explore.

    But we all know what Garth Thornton (xenodreambuie) is capable of when using the program he wrote several years ago. “XenoDream” has become a favorite amongst many genre, and not just in the fractal groups.

  2. Thanks Tim for showcasing some of my pictures, and thanks Nahee to point out the fact that I have a professional life that has nothing to do with fractals (although I am more or less in computer sciences) and I do fractals when I have some spare time :)

    BTW I read some older orbit traps posts, and I would like to say that almost all my 3D pictures were done in UF, and don’t think these are “UF-style” (except maybe the latest ones when I learned to play with class-based coloring in 2D)

    I would love to learn more about Buddhi and Jesse’s great programs, which I both tried for a few minutes, but now I am so used to UF that it’s difficult to change and re-learn, considering that when I dedicate some time to fractals, I want to be quickly productive for my own satisfaction.

  3. The “UF-style” thing was a criticism of layering as one’s primary creative technique to make fractal art and not really the program, UF. What’s exciting about the work you and the other 3D folks are doing at Fractalforums is that you’ve discovered new types of fractal formulas. Your work is formula based and not graphical effects based.

    The current 3D fractalists, like yourself, explore the formulas and capture interesting algorithmic creations. Previously fractal art had largely become a matter of adding many layers and effects to old formulas and that (in my opinion) was pretty boring as well as becoming extremely widespread. I gave it the “UF-style” label since it seemed that UF’s layering abilities ushered in this new way of making these layered creations. But really, it’s got nothing to do with UF itself since the program can be used to do many other things. I wanted to point out that good fractal art comes from new and unusual fractal formulas and exploring new parameter settings and not from the heavy use of graphical effects.

    Incidently, Dave Makin, one of the two artists whose work I used as examples of the “UF-style” is currently making some very interesting 3D work with, of course, UF, and contributing greatly to the capability of UF to produce these new kinds of fractal formulas for other users. The program one uses doesn’t really matter (and I often don’t know which program some of these 3D fractals are made with by just looking at them). It’s what the results look like that’s important. In that way, UF is a great platform for producing almost any kind of algorithmic art (as Samuel Monnier has said). People ought to just use whatever tool they’re most creative and comfortable with. I haven’t seen any real differences between 3D fractals made with UF or either of Jesse’s or Buddhi’s programs. I suspect that the underlying mechanics of them are pretty much the same, but I’m not a programmer or math guy.

  4. As we are only at the beginning of a new 3D fractal era, the multi-layer/textured “UF-style” will be probably a reality in 3D fractals in less than a year (when Dave Makin’s 3D classes are available ??). Buddhi’s program already offers a lot of lighting/depth of field/fogging options that are not in line with the concept of “pure mathematical” art, but that add a lot of realism to the basic bulb/box/KIFS…

    I don’t think myself only as a parameters tweaker. Yes, I try to get the most of a single layer by testing a lot of parameter combinations (not only fractal parameters, but also location, color gradient and lighting), but I also like graphical fine-tuning and sometimes I spend a few minutes on adding some background layers for the sake of realism. I don’t use Photoshop, so to me, UF layering is a kind of postprocessing tool that is (generally) not supposed to radically change the nature and concept of the original layer.

    I read some more OT blogs (I think the one called “Why I don’t use UF”) and I don’t agree with the statement about UF not being able to quickly produce some nice piece of art, it’s just a matter of practice (and if you call a random Apophysis batch a piece of art, then I strongly disagree :))

    Recently I also played with Sam’s formulae, but I think I could not do better than the hundreds of pictures already done, even by combining them with my recent expirements in advanced texturing. To me, fractaling is all about innovating, that’s why I love Fractalforums.

  5. I suspect you know well enough I’m a UF addict. Dig under the surface and it can become all things (most things) to all men. You mention David, but forget not Ron Barnett, he’s produced formulas of the utmost complexity.

    The snag for me with both David’s and Ron’s formulas is they strain the resources of this ancient computer beyond what I consider tolerable. It’s difficult to be creative when rendering to screen if each adjustment takes 30-minutes or more – and seeking creativity via those myriad adjustments is the name of the game with fractal programmes. The plan/desire is to replace with something modern, powerful, and fitted to approach this 3D world but I’m loathe to give the thumbs down to a machine which retains a faithful intent.

    I do like your more relaxed approach to this blogging and would hope you are able to mention the programmes being used when folk have strayed from the obvious few.

  6. Thanks for the kind words about my images.

    One comment. You said that “height fields…give the impression of perspective though a special rendering trick”.

    It isn’t a rendering trick. I take a 2D fractal, use Distance Estimate (or “DE”) data to calculate a height value or each pixel, and then render the resulting “topographic” map as a true 3D object in the OpenGL rendering API. I can adjust the amount of specular, diffuse and directional light on the fractal and change the direction of that light in 3 dimensions. If you run FractalWorks on your computer (Mac only) you can rotate the 3D image on your screen in real time, or switch to a stereoscopic view which you can view LIVE using red/cyan anaglyph glasses. I have also generated high resolution 35 mm slides of the left and right eye views, and you can view those as full color 3D stereo images. The result is quite striking, but not easy to share.


    Duncan C

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