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Freeware Fractal Programs

Updated on August 23, 2017
jennabee25 profile image

Jenn enjoys photography and digital art, and has been pursuing these passions since 2007.

Fractal Art is Fun!

I have been creating fractal art for quite a while now and have used a variety of programs, some free, some I paid for. I want to focus on the free ones. Fractal art is colorful, fun, creates unique images, and you can learn a lot from them, too.

Fractals may be visual math problems, but there are a ton of fun to create and you don't have to know much about them to make them in these freeware programs I am going to describe below. This is by no means an exhaustive list of freeware fractal programs, but rather ones that I myself have used.

Give it a try! Download one of the free Windows programs I am going to be describing here and take a look at the examples of the fractal art I have created with that particular program. My hope is that perhaps one will spark your interest and you will give a shot.

All images are created by me!

Fractal Explorer 2.02

Fractal Explorer is the first fractal program that I ever tried out and is still one of the programs I go to first if I want to create fractal art. It's like playing the guitar: easy to play, hard to master. I do not claim to be a master, but I have learned a trick or two in the program. It creates a different variety of fractal images, runs fairly quick on a PC, depending on the size of the image, and gives great results.

Unfortunately, the program is no longer updated, but there is still a huge community of users out there on different art sites. Many of these places offer great tutorials and gradients that you can use to create your own fractals.

Fractal Explorer Images

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Complexities of LifeI made this from the fractal parameters of a fellow fractal artist.I made this from the fractal parameters of a fellow fractal artist.This was and exercise in deep fractal zooming.Victorian Fractal
The Complexities of Life
The Complexities of Life
I made this from the fractal parameters of a fellow fractal artist.
I made this from the fractal parameters of a fellow fractal artist.
I made this from the fractal parameters of a fellow fractal artist.
I made this from the fractal parameters of a fellow fractal artist.
This was and exercise in deep fractal zooming.
This was and exercise in deep fractal zooming.
Victorian Fractal
Victorian Fractal

Sterling2

Despite being a new player on the block in the terms of fractal programs, this program is based on an older program called Sterling. This one is a little harder to use the Fractal Explorer, but it still is fun to do and yields wonderful results. There are some tutorial out there for the program, and I recommend using them if you plan on using the program.

I will say that this is not an easy program to use, so start slow and work from there. Definitely read the tutorials. You will learn a lot from them and they will unlock the mysteries of the program.

Sterling2 Images

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Purple WaveI created this one for my husband to use as wallpaper on his birthday.FlowersThis was the first really good fractal I got out of Sterling2.Bronze
Purple Wave
Purple Wave
I created this one for my husband to use as wallpaper on his birthday.
I created this one for my husband to use as wallpaper on his birthday.
Flowers
Flowers
This was the first really good fractal I got out of Sterling2.
This was the first really good fractal I got out of Sterling2.
Bronze
Bronze

WinFRACT

WinFRACT is based on the granddaddy of all fractal programs, and that FractINT. This is not an easy program to use because it has aged. Still, with a little patience and experimentation, you can get some great images out of it.

Chaoscope

Chaoscope is a strange attractor program, which includes fractals, but also includes formulas that aren't quite fractals, but close. Still, this program is a loads of fun to play with, especially if you use the Animate setting. It's easy to download and the web page included tutorials.

Don't be daunted if your images don't have a type of pizazz that you would like them to have. Keep on trying by playing with colors and gradients. There are a ton of of free gradients out there on different art web sites where fractal art is popular.

Chaoscope Images

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Julia Solid RenderGas RenderLight RenderFlame RenderLorenz Solid Render
Julia Solid Render
Julia Solid Render
Gas Render
Gas Render
Light Render
Light Render
Flame Render
Flame Render
Lorenz Solid Render
Lorenz Solid Render

Apophysis

Apophysis explores a range of a realm of fractals called flame fractals. I have been using this program for a long time and it is still one of the most popular fractal art programs with fractal artists out there. It is pretty easy to get a cool image just playing around, but with a few tutorials and learning a few tricks, you can create amazing images. Plus, being and open source program, people have created tons of plug-in add-on for the program.

Apophysis Images

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Apophysis Class Assignment:  Grand JulianGreen OrbSynaptic ResponseChainedCircular Heart
Apophysis Class Assignment:  Grand Julian
Apophysis Class Assignment: Grand Julian
Green Orb
Green Orb
Synaptic Response
Synaptic Response
Chained
Chained
Circular Heart
Circular Heart

Incendia

Incendia is the new kid on the block, and this kid is cool. This program allows you to render fractal in 3D. Again, not the easiest program to use, but with anything, a few tutorials and playing around will give you some awesome results. The more powerful your PC, the better your results will be, as a note. It is written for a multiprocessor PC, but there are versions out there for single processor machines.

I have actually beta tested this program and have seen it since the beginning. It's come a long way and well worth it.

Incendia Images

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cherry BombLacy SpiralMushroom KingdomCitySun Sign
Cherry Bomb
Cherry Bomb
Lacy Spiral
Lacy Spiral
Mushroom Kingdom
Mushroom Kingdom
City
City
Sun Sign
Sun Sign

Going to give it a shot?

Are you going to give fractal art a try?

ChaosPro

ChaosPro has a special place in my heart because it is where I first got to create layered fractals. Not as powerful as Ultra Fractal, which you must purchase, this program can yield some beautiful images is you want to look into creating fractals that have layers upon layers of images. It sort of work like Photoshop, in the sense that you can layer images in that program. It's worth a look, but it is a computer memory hog.

ChaosPro Images

Click thumbnail to view full-size
GangreneNew WaveFiestaFlame DanceSquared
Gangrene
Gangrene
New Wave
New Wave
Fiesta
Fiesta
Flame Dance
Flame Dance
Squared
Squared

Web Sites with Great Fractal Art Communities

Connecting with people who have the same interests and could offer help is a great asset to someone who is learning a new art form. Don't get discouraged! Visit these web sites and look for communities within them that use the program you are using. You may be surprised at what you may find!

Many of these places will also allow you to display and even sell your fractal art. They are worth looking at.

Leave me a note!

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    • fibonacci1123 profile image

      fibonacci1123 3 years ago

      Can you tell us how to go about doing the fractal art? Thanks for this lens!

    • fibonacci1123 profile image

      fibonacci1123 3 years ago

      @buteoflyer2: I feel the same way. I want to get into it because it looks really cool, but it's hard (for me)!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I'm learning about fractals for the first time; I never knew that's what early screensavers were or how they were made. I had no idea that so much software's available for people to try.

    • jennabee25 profile image
      Author

      Jenn Dixon 4 years ago from PA

      @buteoflyer2: The place I got started was at deviantART.com. There are tons of tutorials to get you started there. Plus, people are generally willing to give feedback, too. Just searching for a specific program tutorial on the Internet will yield a lot of sources, too. Take a look at this link and see if anything there will get you started: http://www.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&am...

    • buteoflyer2 profile image

      Kathie Miller 4 years ago from Southern California

      I've tried doing fractals in the past, but t I get so frustrated trying to get something that looks even remotely like art I end up giving up. How does one get into this? Where can a newbie get good info? What is the best community to learn from? I'm not a computer geek by any stretch of the imagination and it seems like you have to be a bit in order to write scripts.

    • mcstacy profile image

      mcstacy 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing....I would definitely want to learn more about it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I definitely want to give this a try. I guess I will download one of the simpler programs for now and then as I get better with it, I can upgrade to a more difficult program with more features. Thanks for the great info.

    • profile image

      soaringsis 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing. I must give this a try.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've never seen any of these programs but I think I'm going to give a couple a try. Your art is amazing.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Beautiful images.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      You have some amazing fractal art. I was unaware there were programs that did the calculation for fractal art, in the olden days we used to make them by doing the calculation ourselves, and then paint or color them.

    • jennabee25 profile image
      Author

      Jenn Dixon 4 years ago from PA

      @Pat Goltz: I believe I have seen some of your work over there, actually. We may have crossed paths at some time or another at deviantART. I would be jennabee25.deviantart.com, but I haven't logged on there in quite a while.

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 4 years ago

      Just wanted to let you know, I got Incendia. This is so cool!!!! I am getting magnificently cool work without even trying.. :) I never would have known this existed if not for your lens. Thanks very much for putting out this info. If I was a giant squid or something, I'd give 9,000 points or whatever... :)

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      My biggest fractal collection is on deviantART, where I am patgoltz.deviantart.com .

    • jennabee25 profile image
      Author

      Jenn Dixon 4 years ago from PA

      @JeffGilbert: Thank you, and wonderful! If you post any of your art online, let me know!

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 4 years ago

      Hey, thanks for making this great list. I've been out of the loop for a while, and this is a great update about free programs. I've also been tempted to try Ultra Fractal, but some of the free stuff is so great, I say, why go there... :)

    • SadSquid profile image

      SadSquid 5 years ago

      I was looking in Google for a free fractal program and found this page! Extremely useful list and great images. From your pictures I think I would really like to use chaoscope the most, although it sounds like I might need to put some work into it. Blessed.

    • Totus Mundus profile image

      Totus Mundus 5 years ago

      I love these images, they are quite unusual. Thanks for the info.

    • coldsore lm profile image

      coldsore lm 5 years ago

      Fractals are incredible. Excellent lens and thanks for the info about free software download

    • profile image

      SimplyTonjia 5 years ago

      Great lens. You introduced me to a couple of programs I did not know about. Thank you.

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 5 years ago

      Fractal art is so beautiful yet so overpowering.

    • IngridA1 profile image

      IngridA1 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing! Your fractal art is beautiful and I cannot wait to try one of these programs!

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 5 years ago

      I cannot wait to try this! Thanks for your hard Work.and Of Course...Blessed!

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 5 years ago

      I cannot wait to try this! Thanks for your hard Work.and Of Course...Blessed!

    • sweetstickyrainbo profile image

      sweetstickyrainbo 5 years ago

      some cool fractal art

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have just become a massive fractal fan - and will be downloading some form of freeware to have a go - am absolutely no Maths genius - so hope I can work it out - do you know of any programme that allows you to combine or work with other works of art ? Ie could you upload a photo or work of art into it to work it in somehow ? Many thanks - fantastic stuff x

    • profile image

      wutz4tea 6 years ago

      This is a great "lens"! I love fractals, too. I also have a "zazzle" and a "redbubble". Thanks for putting this up. Your fractals are terrific!

    • javr profile image

      javr 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You have really shown some very inspiring fractal images.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi jennabee25, nice article! Another fractal program to consider is the Fractal Science Kit (http://www.fractalsciencekit.com/). Check out the fractal gallery (http://www.fractalsciencekit.com/gallery/gallery.h... for examples of what it can do. It's not free however ($30).

    • jennabee25 profile image
      Author

      Jenn Dixon 6 years ago from PA

      @LabKittyDesign: Absolutely! There are some great Mac applications out there for fractals. I have some friends who do lovely work with them.

    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 6 years ago

      You can do fractals on Grapher (comes free with OS-X) albeit in a sort of charming DIY fashion. Just adding something for the Mac crowd...