- Arts and Design
Fractal Imagery and My Digital Art
Fractal Explorer - At Least I Felt Like One
Not too long ago, I came across a hub by Movie Master on dandelions. I was interested in reading because I always have tons of dandelions growing in my yard, along with tons of other weeds – I live near a large National Forest. I’m always game to see what I can do with the plants in my yard - both the ones I can cultivate and ones that grow wild.
But then I saw something in Movie Master’s hub: “kaleidoscope” versions of dandelions. The images were stunning.
For my hubs and in general, I love taking photos. While I wouldn’t call myself a professional photographer, I would say that I’m proficient at image editing. But I was surprised that I hadn’t seen a “kaleidoscope” filter in all my image-editing wanderings.
I promptly opened up GIMP– my image editing software. I looked and looked for the kaleidoscope filter. I went to their website and discovered that the kaleidoscope filter had essentially been replaced by “fractal trace” and “fractal explorer.”
I had no idea what those meant. I vaguely remember fractals from math classes in college, but never did much with the idea of them.
The Move to Digital Art
I really had no idea.
I had no idea that finding fractals would lead me to explore a whole new art medium.
I had studied art in college, taking enough classes to garner a minor. I always wanted art to be a significant hobby of mine. I had been a painter – acrylic on canvas was my favorite medium. The American Southwest inspired my subject matter.
Unfortunately, I lived (and still live) in the southeast. Though I enjoy where I live, selling southwestern art in the southeast proved to be futile. I all but gave up.
Then I saw Movie Master’s hub. I discovered fractals. I have been creating fractals and digital art at a furious pace ever since then.
What Are Fractals?
At its most basic level, a fractal is a pattern that can repeat over and over again. It can be modeled using a mathematical equation. However, it is an irregular pattern.
Nature herself features fractals all over the place. Hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather events can generate fractal patterns, but even water draining down the sink creates a pattern. The way ferns propel their winding tiny ferns into the air to how other plants grow their leaves create intricate natural patterns. Even the flames in a fire can be interpreted using fractals.
You can take those mathematical expressions and actually render a digital image with them.
Now, I don’t claim to be a mathematical genius. But it is quite thrilling to know that these patterns can be rendered using various mathematical formulas.
In GIMP, I took an image and used “fractal trace” and “fractal explorer” to create a few early images:
Once I made a few images, still didn’t know much. There is an entire world of knowledge to be had in exploring fractal dimensions. I figured out that I could play with the colors by changing things like the sine, cosine and iterations (number of turns or passes) of the image. GIMP would happily do all that for me.
But, I did find my limits with GIMP. Despite the fractal trace and fractal explorer functions, I found that I wanted to be able to manipulate the images even more.
I came across a math book with a beautiful, swirly cover and quickly realized it was a fractal, but a very complicated-looking one. The fractals I had been creating looked quite simple by comparison.
I pressed on. I hopped online to see what more I could do with fractals. I found another program called ChaosPro.
After a brief and free download, I immersed myself into the world of fractals.
Using Fractal Generator Software
Once you open up the program, you have many choices of what types of fractals to make. You can make 3-D images or 2-D images.
Believe it or not, I actually prefer the 2-D images because the 3-D images remind me of body parts…and not in a good way.
One of the easiest ways I get started is by going to the menu bar and choosing “Distribution.Par” – this will generate a 2-D fractal. You can see, though, that there are many choices. Unlimited types of fractals can be generated.
If I want to further manipulate my image, I can “export” it. That will allow me to make any other changes that I want in GIMP.
So, I can pretend I’m a mathematical genius, but what I really love is the stunning digital images that I can make and manipulate to create a work of art.
I have become so inspired by these that I created a store and a blog. Every day, I have to spend time making fractals and rendering images that I find graphically and visually stimulating. It's become a sort of...obsession.
So thanks, Movie Master. You helped inspire a new art form for me. I can’t thank you enough.
I'll conclude with some other images I've created.
Vote For Your Favorite
© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun