Software

A Sea of Possibilities
There is an almost unfathomable amount of fractal design programs available for download, many of them being freeware GUIs (graphic user interfaces). Some of them are quite good, but most are mediocre at best. The following is a list of three of the most popular fractal design programs used by both amateurs and professionals in the industry today. For a list of countless others, plug the phrase “fractal design software” into your favorite search engine and marvel at the number of options.

"Sentient"
"Sentient"
© Copyright 2007 Sean McCurry
Apophysis License: Freeware
www.apophysis.org

Apophysis is a freeware GUI dedicated to generating and controlling fractals at an intricate level. As soon as the software is booted, a list of 100 randomly generated fractals is instantly available to play with and adjust. The fractal “flames” themselves are customized by the creation and placement of triangles on a 2D grid. Each triangle represents an instance of script, and has its own fully-customizable set of variations and effects. A large library of gradients is available for coloring the fractal, and these gradients are customizable as well. For advanced users, Apophysis has a toolbar button which opens up a script editor containing the complete script for the current fractal.


"Construct"
"Construct"
© Copyright 2009 Sean McCurry
Incendia License: Freeware
www.incendia.net

Another freeware GUI, Incendia offers a variety of fractal options from the typical fractal “flame” to a standard IFS, Klienian sets, various 2D and 3D julians, and more. The most powerful feature of this program, however, is the unique ability to replace specified point iterations with any of a variety of customizable 3D “baseshapes”. This software also has powerful 3D rendering options such as image-based ambient and diffuse maps for each “baseshape”, as well as background mapping, lighting, occlusion, shaders, and volumetric fog.


"Non Omnis Moriar"
"Non Omnis Moriar"
© Copyright 2009 Sean McCurry
Ultra Fractal License: $79.00 US
www.ultrafractal.com

Amidst a veritable ocean of freeware GUIs, you would think that Ultra Fractal must be cutting-edge to carry an $80 price tag. You would, in fact, be correct in that assumption. While it doesn’t have the innovative “triangle” interface of Apophysis or the wildly unique 3D capabilities of Incendia, Ultra Fractal brings fractal designing to the next logical step for professional artists. Specifically, it takes the intricate fractal design capabilities demanded by artists, and gives them a built-in fully-functional graphic design interface akin to that of Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop, complete with layers, blending options, coloring options, and filters. Even gradients have their own interface, allowing you to adjust not only individual colors, but their saturation and opacity as well. These gradients can then be customized even further through the use of dynamic coloring algorithms. Both the trial and full versions come with tutorials that teach users about the various options this software has to offer, and there is quite a variety of these options to be had.