art, fractal, software

Faster Fractal Flame Rendering

My astute readers may note I have written a more complete description of the actual algorithm for fractal flames in another article. This article is more about improvements to the general process in the software for rendering fractal flames.


Having been creating fractals for a number of years, I have grown considerably interested in making software that allows me to create these structures. Not considering CPU vs GPU, there are a couple of common approaches, and I have had the pleasure of trying them all out. After toying with various software and examining their inner mechanisms, I’m now familiar with how each of these programs render fractals.

Addiction to creating fractals can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you are creating the most liberal art in the universe – pure color and shape – without so much as a single relation to a controversial topic. On the other hand, the artwork never provides complete gratification. It drives you to want to see more and more (and spend hours on end rendering it). The fine details are the main attraction and the source of endless entertainment.

There is an enormous potential in fractal design, and I’d like to see it manifested. However, fractal creation can be inherently slow or spotty in appearance depending on the type of fractal being rendered and the software used. Out of disappointment, I’ve pondered the details of the process and how to improve it. What follows in this article is an overview of those thoughts and an analysis of some of the solutions I’ve been dreaming up.

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art, fractal

Tweaking Fractals Example – “Three Styles”

Sometimes it’s nice to see how a fractal is tweaked from start to finish. Below is an example of one of my own fractals that started with a simple idea, looked like junk at one point, and with some tweaking came out really nice. How do you tweak a fractal? That deserves a full length feature (which I may do later), but the gist of it is knowing balance. Fractal flames are created with points that are sent from variation to variation to be modified. The best-looking fractals are those that perform a balancing act: sending points to the places they are mots needed while still supporting the finer details of the fractal. Remember: even invisible transforms receive points and it is important that they are provided them depending on what role they perform (usually some intermediate transform). The balancing is all done by the Xaos (notably: JWildfire 1 labeled these as “Rel. Weights”, which is more descriptive but not common terminology).

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How Julia transforms work

Last night, I quickly put together a video about how Julia transforms work in iterated function series flames. By “Julia”, I mean julian, juliaq, julia3D, julia3Dz, etc. – The transforms in JWildfire labeled with “julia” (except salamander and one other, I think). I know Apophysis has many of these as well.

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art, fractal, freeware, software

Chaotica vs JWildfire Rendering

If you’re a fractal artist, you might be aware of a few popular programs for fractal art, including JWildfire and the up-and-coming Chaotica. JWildfire is almost a fractal creation suite, an all-in-one package that allows you to not only make fractals, but watch them dance to music and make videos with them. Chaotica, on the other hand, can’t do much functionally but is an excellent program for rendering… assuming you can figure out how to get the thing to work for you.

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