Friday, August 8, 2014

The Graphics of Fractal Art

I love experimenting with color and form, which is probably why UF is one of my all time favorite applications. I subscribe to several of Dover Publications mailing lists for free images. Many of these images are coloring book pages.

475492-031   475492-031_SBP01_A

The image above, on the left, is from Dover’s Geometric Stained Glass Coloring Book ( I used Paint Shop Pro and the Super BladePro plugin, from Flaming Pear ( both of which I have used for years, to color the graphic. The Super BladePro plugin allows you to create your own presets, an option I used extensively in the past. All the ‘coloring’ I did in the image uses presets of my own creation. As you can see, I also changed the aspect of the original coloring book page to make it square.

I’ve done a lot of experimentation with Ron Barnett’s coloring Image Traps, and some of these experiments are contrary to his intent. The results are usually flowers. After all, flowers are my thing. Today I felt like branching out and came up with this:


I used the Newton formula from Standard.ufm, and Image traps on the background layer. Then I added a Carlson Orbit Traps layer to add a bit of texture and interest. That’s it! Two layers with lots of color.

With the advent of Ultra Fractal 5 back in 2008 that added the import image feature, I found that much of the graphic work I had done before could become an enhancement to my fractal creations. Graphics and fractals have been a long, and sometimes arduous, journey for me. I’m pretty much self taught, and I rely on what I think of as my ‘eye for what looks good’ to get me over the learning curve. Mostly that ‘eye’ has seen the wow moments and told me to save whatever caused the ‘oh wow’ moment.

I relied heavily on the Ultra Fractal Mailing List to get me to the point where I could envision what I wanted to do and get at least somewhat close to that image. I make no bones about not knowing (or even caring about) the math behind the fractals. There are enough excellent formula writers out there to keep me busy for many, many years. To them I am eternally grateful. I would mention names, but I might miss one or two and feel terrible about such an oversight. The formula writers not only provide the backbone for my artistic endeavors, they are willing to provide answers and incite when I have questions or need some advice on how to proceed to achieve what I might have in mind. My most heartfelt thanks to all of them!

I’ve uploaded a render of this one, titled “Primary Colors,” to my gallery on Renderosity… you can check it out at graphicMADness.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Expanding Horizons

It’s time to stop thinking about selling my art, and time to start actually making the effort to sell my art.

One avenue is through deviantART ( I’ve put up a couple of new items there, rendered at a size suitable for prints, along with some older ones.

Self-promotion is hard. Why is it so hard for me to say things like “I’ve got some great artwork that might look good hanging on your wall!”? Perhaps it is a reflection of my age and up-bringing. But hey, I’ve got some great artwork that might look good hanging on your wall!

To that end, I have to say, I have some of my artwork hanging on my walls, and I get a lot of compliments. There I did it, I tooted my own horn. Still feels so wrong.

I am in the process of going back through my Ultra Fractal images made with Ultra Fractal 4 for the purpose of rendering some of them at a size deemed suitable for printing by deviantART. I am also taking the time to modify them with things like grouping into folders and adding my copyright signature image layer.

If you look at my last post, and scroll down to where I describe creating my Fibonacci Flower, you will see that I mentioned taking the image posted there and turning it into 22 images of varying colors. I find that this technique doesn’t work all the time, but when it does, oh baby. So now I have Fibonacci Flowers I and Fibonacci Flowers II series.

FFI_Default               FFII_Default

I know they are very similar which, I believe, makes them more commercial. If you see a picture for sale that you like, but the colors are all wrong for your room, don’t you wish you could ask the artist to do another one in your colors? I see digital art as the solution to that particular dilemma. Each of the above images comes in a total of 22 flavors which allows you to get just the combination you think would look best hanging in your home.

I would love to get feedback on my ideas.

Visit my gallery on deviantART at

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Long Time, No See

I suppose that a blog should be something one does more frequently than every once in a blue moon. Apparently I haven’t posted anything new here since April 23, 2012. Speaking of the moon, today is a full moon, and perhaps it is its influence that has caused me to open up Windows Live Writer and venture forth.

Since I am retired, I guess I don’t really take vacations as such, but I did spend more than a month away from home, visiting with family and friends, but, more importantly in relation to this blog, doing more with fractals than I have in a very long time. Once in a while, I even got out of my floral comfort zone. See my gallery on ( for my “Totally Abstract” image.

Another thing I discovered is that turning images with transparency into spheres or eggs can produce some interesting, and somewhat dramatic, effects. “Inner Light” would be an example of this (also in my gallery).

One last thing that has made using Ultra Fractal new and fresh again, comes from a friend on the UF Mailing List. I must give a great big shout out to Sue Harvey for making the Crosshatch coloring, by Kerry Mitchell, my new go to coloring for interesting texture. An example of this is “In My Dreams,” also in my gallery.

I have long fallen into what I think of as the Doodads/Orbit Traps featherbed. These colorings tend to always produce a pleasing image with little effort and a lot of gradient manipulation. I’ve not even much used Orbit Traps (UF3), but now I have finally discovered the value of Orbit Traps Gradient (UF5).

I have been making single flowers for a long time now. I can’t even begin to tell you how many fractal flowers I have in my collection.

Let me backtrack for a moment. Before retirement, and before fractals, I was a personal computer hardware and software support technician. For fun, I took various programming classes, which I believe helped me understand the sequence of critical thinking needed to do my job. One of the things that is emphasized in programming classes is the value of reusable code.

The concept of reusable code has become part of my floral mantra. When I find shapes that produce interesting petals, in a particular color (or array of colors), I will often make identical images changing specific gradient points to other colors.

For Blog

These petals and leaves are a very simple example of the concept.

Since I have sent you off to look in my gallery on Rendersity,com three times now, you have surely noticed the latest upload entitled “Fibonacci Bouquet.” This image represents a culmination of using disparate colorings to create an interesting whole.

I’ve just done another one along these lines:


Spoiler Alert: The above image uses the formula Fibonacci Julia, with a background composed of Crosshatch, Gaussian Integer, Orbit Traps Gradient (UF5) and Jigsaw, has a spiral of flowers made from Orbit Traps Gradient (UF5), Carlson Orbit Traps, Image Traps, and Plane Curve Traps II.


Using Orbit Traps Gradient (UF5) allows me to take the single flower concept and create interesting floral patterns. Of course, to get good spirals, it is important to find just the right Formula. In my case, I am finding that Fibonacci Julia fits the bill perfectly.

While experimenting with various formulas, I have found that messing around with the Julia Parameters (Re and Im) can bring out way too many Inside areas. I definitely prefer working on the Outside tab. Fibonacci Julia allows for some pretty radical changes to these parameters. For the image above, I used -1.68507/1.75256 for the Julia Parameter (Re) and Julia Parameter (Im) respectively.

(You can open a new image in Ultra Fractal using Fibonacci Julia, in lkm.ufm (another thank you to Kerry Mitchell for this formula), and copy my parameter -1.68507/1.75256, right click on one of the Julia Parameters, and Paste Complex Value.)

Another value to try is -1.79959/1.35992

The final piece of the puzzle is using the Carlson Orbit Traps coloring to produce a rainbow of colors or shades. When I stumbled on this, it almost felt like cheating. It became possible to to color individual elements of an image when the coloring mode iteration (or modulated iteration) is not available. Add to this the fact that there is the Default 8 color preset plus 21 named 8-color presets in Carlson Orbit Traps. which translates into 22 ways to color an image. There are, of course, more than 22 presets, but for my purposes, I have concentrated on those presets with an 8-color range.

So by the usual trial and error method I use when working in Ultra Fractal, I set out to see what I could make with the Orbit Traps Gradient (UF5). Sometimes I will start out with any formula, apply a coloring and go back to the formulas and browse. This feature of Ultra Fractal, makes it possible to work back and forth between an image and the formulas and colorings that is more hit and less miss. After the fact, it’s pretty much your chicken and egg situation. I settled on the Fibonacci Julia with a twiddle of  some parameters as my basic formula. It’s funny, but I usually try to find my main theme before creating a background behind it.

So I have my first layer which I duplicate, then go to the bottom of the two layers and start working out some basic background. Lately, I try Crosshatch before anything else. It provides some nice background material and texture at the same time. I go along happily tweaking parts of Orbit Traps Gradient (UF5), when I accidently add a layer and select Carlson Orbit Traps from my list of saved Outside presets. My first reaction is what?!?!? Then I start scrolling through the Rendering Methods when the colors of my flowers change into a multicolored rainbow. I’m good with that; actually I’m more than good, I’m kind of ecstatic. I’ve been looking for a way to jazz up my spray of flowers and find it through a fortuitous mistake. The Rendering Method I used was Spheroids.

If you browse through my Renderosity gallery, you will see that I tend to work in really dark colors. No so with this particular floral experiment. I am working in rather light and neutral shades which is probably why the addition of the clarion colors of the Carlson preset palettes just made the image pop. I then started scrolling through all of the presets with eight colors for a total of 22 different results – Default plus Alhambra 8, Belvedere 8, Bouquet 8, Chill 8, Cloud Nine 8, Color Switch 8, Evening Sky 8, Fall 8, Fantasia 8, Flowering Orchard 8, La Terra 8, Mojave 8, Morning Sky 8, Pastel 8, Pastel Rainbow 8, Santa Fe 8, Showtime 8, Soleil 8, Spring 8, Summer 8, and Winter 8. Once I had scrolled through all the colors, I found that I couldn’t make up my mind which one looked best, so I did a series I call “Fibonacci Flowers” in all 22 colors.

In addition to the Spheroids layer, I used a Blobs layer as an embellishment to the center of the flowers. This brings us to the Plane Curve Traps II layer. I wanted a little pearly center for my flowers and found that Bubbles in Carlson Orbit Traps would have worked quite nicely except for the fact that I could find no way to eliminate the black background. I made every instance of black transparent to no avail. That’s when I turned to Plane Curve Traps II and used the Cruciform Trap Type.

Once I had my basic image, done with the Default palette, all I had to do was change the palette on the two Carlson Orbit Traps layers and the Plane Curve Traps II layer so that they were all the same and save the result.

I did send one of these images to the UF Mailing list. Here is the one made with the Default color palette

Fibonacci Flowers - Default
As I was making the color changes for each new image, I realized that I will probably never make it as a fine artist. My love of reusing the code is more conducive to commercial art. My obsession with flowers makes me want to design fabric, and fabrics should sometimes have the same pattern with different colors. My love of flowers is also reflected in my choice of Vera Bradley handbags (I do love my bags – shoes, not so much). I would love to be able to design flowers for one of Vera;s bags.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fractals and Clip Art

I have long collected sample clip art from Dover Publications (, always intending to make use of these images at some time. With the advent of Ultra Fractal 5 (, in 2008, using some of these samples in fractal art became not only possible, but quite easy.

One of the first Dover samples I used was a blue butterfly in a simple fractal image.


I was quite excited by all the possibilities.

Ultra Fractal 5 proved to be something of a challenge because it offered several new and complex capabilities that required study and practice.

A couple of days ago, I downloaded an image from Dover, which can be found in their publication WHAT TO DOODLE? MANGA! (


The blank slate kimono seemed like the perfect place for a fractal design, but in order to do this, it was necessary to create two images with transparent backgrounds. Normally I would use Paint Shop Pro X4, but I am finding what used to be the easiest of graphics programs to use, to be less and less useful. I am of the opinion that Corel bought PSP from JASC to eliminate competition with their own graphics packages, and, although, they continue to come out with new versions, PSP gets buggier with each new iteration.

I used Adobe's Photoshop Elements 10 to eliminate the text and white background surrounding the Manga girl, and saved it, with transparency, as a PNG file.


In order to add design only to the kimono, it was necessary to create a second image, minus head, hands, feet, and that bit of hair over the collar of the kimono. Get out the eraser tool.


This second image, also saved as a transparent PNG file, is used as a mask with the fractal design layer.

Once I had my Manga girl completed, I added background and framing, to have a finished looking image.



I also added a color adjustment layer to make the face, hands, and feet look a bit less stark.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In the Footsteps of Tom Sawyer

I don’t sleep very well. It is a fact of my life. The things that keep me up are varied, but last night, it was an image I created in Ultra Fractal more than four years ago. It is an image I call “Painted on a Fence.” I was thinking about some recent financial changes in my life, and how I might best compensate for them, when the image popped into my head.


It is primitive in many ways, but it is also one of my creations that seems to fall more in the realm of realism than in that of abstract. Granted, the last time I looked there was no blue moon in the sky… or is that a blue sun? Hmmm. Anyway, it is flowers and ferns that could very well be painted on a piece of wood. To me, that’s real enough.

You may ask yourself what this image may have to do with Tom Sawyer. I guess as I lay there trying to fall asleep the whole fence painting pointed me to old Tom and his enterprising ways.

I would truly like to make my digital art into a paying proposition. I have become fairly proficient with making fractal flowers and flowery images. To wit, an updated version of “Painted on a Fence” not so cleverly named “Painted on a Fence UF5 Redux.”


Same picture, better image. I was able to use the image import facility to add flowers I created in UF5 and rendered as png with transparency, in place of the Orbit Trap flowers in the original. I think with this kind of flexibility, there has to be a market out there for my stuff.

You can find 42 of my flowers, some fairly real looking, others totally whimsical, on Rendersity ( in Free Stuff. I believe you will need to be a member of the site to actually download these files. The ZIP contains the fractal file, which can be modified as you see fit, a preview image in jpg format, and a render in png format. You need Ultra Fractal 5 to open the fractal file. It uses features introduced in version 5, so you won't be able to open it in earlier versions. There are no restrictions on the use of these images. They may be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

As of now, there will be no more free flowers because I have a lead on selling some of my fractal art. We’ll see where that leads.

I started this entry back in January and finally finished it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest 2011


Contest :

Honorary Presidency

  • Michael Barnsley
  • Aliette Mandelbrot


  • Don Archer
  • Javier Barrallo
  • Cory Ench
  • Damien Jones
  • David Makin
  • Kerry Mitchell
  • Samuel Monnier
  • Paul Nylander
  • Joseph Presley
  • Jonathan Wolfe

Orbit Trap… the Blog

I just tried to post a comment to Orbit Trap: The Blog that Drove the Universe out of Town ( the purports to be a blog for the 'discussion' of fractal art. My comment didn't go through because I'm "not a member of the team" and comments are "restricted to "team members."

Didn't they do that on SNL? Fractals are neither art nor mathematics... talk amongst yourselves