My first exposure to the "Wonderful World of Fractals"came in the fall of 1998 when a friend, Will, was showing some of the fractals he had created. I had never seen art like this before, and was fascinated by the beauty & complexity of this art form.
This started me off on a search to find fractal programs so that I could try creating these incredible images myself. I soon had several programs to try, but not a clue on how to use them! These programs had been generously created by the authors, but the help files were woefully inadequate, or non-existent, for a novice to figure out how to use them.
After having other people tell me they were having trouble figuring out the programs, I thought I would share what I have learned by creating this first tutorial. This is only a simple introduction to most of the functions of this program, but by the end of it you will be familiar enough with this program to embark on creating your own beautiful fractals!
First and foremost, I am NOT a mathematician, so this is my attempt to describe in layman terms what these incredible images are, and how to make them! If you would like a more detailed explanation, check out my Fractal Resources page, where you will be able to find numerous links for a more in-depth look at the various aspects of fractals.
In the broader sense, fractals are complex, patterns & forms found throughout the natural world. Relative to this art form, they are complex computer generated images, or designs, of amazing form, detail, color and light. They are created using mathematical formulas, and are infinite in their ability to be viewed in ever increasing detail. The closer you look (zoom into a fractal) the more detail there is.
Each image represents, or is similar, to it's parent image. This "self similar" principle is characteristic to fractals. Like a fern, each frond is similar, but not exactly the same.
Fractals can be incredibly mundane, or extraordinarily beautiful! New formulas create new fractals, maybe the next type will be named after you! Fortunately for most of us, you will NOT need to know any complex math theories in order to create your own images, and to enjoy this medium! Just the desire ,and a little creativity will go a long way!
The "tools" for crating fractals are simply a computer, and a fractal program, or generator. Even if you have an old 386 computer running DOS you can create fractal images! (It may take you 'till the next millennium to generate them, but you can still create them!) The newer your machine, the quicker the images will generate. Some programs will generate images faster than others. Tiera-Zon could generate the initial images in a matter of seconds on my old Pentium166 when I originaly started creating fractals.
First of all, you will need a fractal program to generate your own fractals. These can be purchased for around a $1000.00...... just kidding! ;)
I will be using Stephen Ferguson's "Tiera-Zon" throughout this tutorial. You can download this program now by clicking here! (Note: This is a zipped file, if you are unsure about how to download and unzip a compressed file, visit this web page which will show you how.) So, first of all you need a fractal generator. Besides Tiera-zon there are dozens of other fractal programs. You will find additional information about these programs on the Fractal Software page.
There are many fractal programs to try, each with unique characteristics. Probably the oldest & first most widely used program was Fractint. I have only "dabbled" in this program due to it's DOS interface. Now there are many newer programs packed with features and functions. My favorite fractal generator has long been Tiera-Zon 2.7, a program written by Stephen Ferguson. Stephen has created a number of terrific programs. While I enjoy using Tiera-zon, this is only my preference! I would highly recommend downloading & trying several programs to find what you like!
Ok, I can hear you saying "Enough already! Let's get to it!" So without further ado, let's get started! Fractal Tutorial Page 2