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How To Make Fractals with Apophysis, a Video Tutorial

Updated on April 26, 2013

Easy Tutorials for Complex Apophysis Fractals

Apophysis is a free fractal generator, which many digital artists use to great effect, the internet is full of beautiful, incredibly complex images produced with it. However, many people find the program very difficult to use. At first glance it is extremely complex and, even if you figure out the basics, you are far from being able to produce anything like the pictures you see.

Luckily there is a huge community of Apophysis users who've produced a huge number of tutorials explaining how to achieve various types of fractals with it. Many of these can be found on the devian art site, a huge repository of all types of resources, from different colour gradients to scripts and plugins and flame (fractal) packs.

However the huge number of tutorials is a problem of itself. For a long time I've been coming across a particularly beautiful type of apophysis fractal , but I could not find out how it was made. All I was getting from my attempts were random and rather simple patterns.

The Type of Fractals I Really Wanted to Make

Click thumbnail to view full-size

My Other Tutorials

If you've found this article useful, you might also like:

Fractals Using Sterling2

Free Fractal Generators.

The Splits-Elliptic Apophysis Technique

After much searching in cyberspace, I finally learnt that these fractals were called splits-elliptic (or elliptic-splits). Armed with this knowledge it was easy to find the excellent tutorial by Fiery Fire and SaTaNia on deviant art which had all the parameters needed and step-by-step instructions for making the basic pattern of these images.

Just in case you are not too familiar with the program, I thought it would be useful to make a video tutorial, showing where all the numbers "go".

The instructions are quite long, but if you follow them step-by-step it should be easy to reproduce the basic splits-elliptic pattern.

Screenshots of Apophysis Menus

Just in case you can't see the menus in the movie above here are some screenshots of the important parts of the generator's windows. However you can, if you wish watch a full-screen version of the movie.

main apophysis menu
main apophysis menu | Source

Functions in the Main Menu

  • The "New Flame" button starts a new project.
  • The "fx" button gives you access to the editor window where you can add new transforms (triangles), control their variations, move, rotate and scale the triangles, and generally modify your images. This is where most of the work is done.
  • The "adjustment window" allows you to set the scale (maginification) of the fractal, adjust the brightness (by adding gamma or brightness), move the camera around, which moves the image on the screen, and select and adjust the gradient (colours).
  • The "gradients" button opens the adjustments window on the gradient tab, it si somewhat redundant but convenient.
  • The "render" button renders your image once you've finished your work. You can choose the size of the final image, bigger images are obviously better, but take longer to render.
  • The preview quality drop down menu changes the quality of the preview. Better quality previews take longer to render, so don't go too high unless your computer is uber powerful. Also remember that the final image will look much better than the preview.

The transform editor menu in apophysis
The transform editor menu in apophysis | Source

Important Functions in the Transform Editor (Fx) menu

  • "Add New Triangle" adds a new transform to your fractal, you can then add variations to it, adjust its size, position and rotation.
  • "Duplicate Triangle" creates a new triangle with exactly the same parameters and adjustments as the selected triangle.
  • "Delete Triangle" does what it says on the tin.
  • "Post Transform" enables post transformation of the selected triangle, altering the selected triangle with the post transform enabled has very different effects than the same changes without it.
  • "Enable Final Transform" allows you to add variations to the whole image. These work quite differently than when they are used on one of the normal triangles.

Variations and Transforms Used in Splits-Elliptic

Triangle Adjustments
scale down 110, rotate CW 90o, post transform rotate clockwise 90o
Linear=1, Splits=1
Splits-X=1, Splits-Y=0.099
scale down 110, post transform rotate CCW 90o
Cylinder=0.075, Pre-Blur=2
Post transform X=1,0; Y=0,3
A summary of the variations, variables and transformations used in this tutorial.

I hope you found this tutorial useful, and that it will be the starting point of many splits elliptics. Don't forget the fun is in tweaking your creations. Try out different variations for the final transform. You can also get interesting effects by changing the size and weight of triangles 1 and 2, and even moving them around.

Visit the Deviant Art site for their amazing collection of fractal images and resources.

If something is still not clear, or if you have suggestions about improving this tutorial, let me know in the comments.

If you would like to buy cards or products with my fractal images, they can be found in my Phyllomedusa Zazzle store.


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    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      4 years ago from Topeka, KS

      I would love to see the video for this article as I've been learning more about Apophysis lately. I don't see the video though. Great article! :)

    • aa lite profile imageAUTHOR

      aa lite 

      7 years ago from London

      Thank you Hollie. It is really just a video rendition of the tutorial by SaTania and Faery Fire on Deviant Art, but I thought making a video out of it, where people could see what happens with each step would make it easier to use.

      Glad you found it useful. Let me know if there are any problems with it, when you go to practice.

    • HollieT profile image


      7 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

      I am so very glad that you have written this tutorial, aa, and the video is particularly helpful. I think that I now, finally, have some understanding of Apophysis. Off to practice.


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