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There are many fractal generation softwares such as the free Xaos and Fractal Architect 2. I normally use Mathematica to generate fractals and process them later with editing tool but this time have to work with an art project where things must be perfect.

We are creating a large indoor print over the facade that will be up for a month. Our idea is to create a flower facade with fractals, orbifolds and other mathematical patterns -- we have so far worked with Mathematica but tools such as Fractal Architect 2 may speed up designing and crafting. For the print, we need apparently CMYK colors so have to be sure the software support it or other printing colors. And we need to make sure there is a way to export Mathematica things. So far, we don't know yet which softwares even support CMYK or similar.

Is there any superior fractal generation tool designed for graphic artists?

What kind of features should I look at in such tools?

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Can you elaborate on what "perfect" means? And where the other apps you mention fail in that respect? – Scott Mar 14 '13 at 22:15
Note that RGB : CMYK conversions can be problematic, depending on the colors, since they have different gamut. Colors rendered in RGB may look particularly dull when converted to CMYK. However, Mathematica does support CMYK rendering, so you can create a fractal in CMYK format for use in a larger project. – horatio Mar 15 '13 at 16:33
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Adding as a different answer because it's a different program :)

You can do a "fractal-inspired" look in Gimp, which is open source and free, using the Fractal flames plugin.

Curious note: Fractal flames are a member of the iterated function system class of fractals created by Scott Draves in 1992. Draves’ seminal open-source code was later ported into Adobe After Effects graphics software and translated into the Apophysis fractal flame editor.

enter image description here

To choose your type of flames, click on Edit and choose Random or Spherical, as Variation (also with Sinusoidal you can obtain something good). In Directions you can view the previews of some flames; if you don’t like anything, click on Randomise to generate other previews. When you find your best preview, click on it and click Ok twice (one for the Edit Flame window and one for the Flame window).

enter image description here

Another possible plugin is IFS, or Iteration Function System, that applies an iterated function system over an image, finitely, making it fractal-like.

You will need to install a plugin for CMYK support in Gimp. It might not be the best program for printing, but you mentioned you were open to other alternatives, and this is an extra option.

And, final note, The Flame Algorithm is also an open source software that lets you create some nice effects. Ok, one more. For inspiration, check Electric Sheep.

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If you have access to Photoshop CS4 through CS5.5, you can use the Fractal Explorer Pixel Bender plugin (downloadable for free here):

Black and white fractal generated by Fractal ExplorerBroccoli-looking fractal generated by Fractal Explorer

Unfortunately, Adobe decided to discontinue Pixel Bender support in CS6, which is rather unfortunate, as this effectively means the huge library of Pixel Bender plugins people have written for Photoshop and AfterEffects will simply go to waste once everyone migrates to CS6.

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+1 that is sad, there is no way to get it working with newer software or perhaps some free software? There is no alternative plugin for cs6? Unfortunately, I have only cs6 :( – hhh Mar 15 '13 at 1:42
@hhh: Even though it's a standalone app and in theory other graphics programs could also use Pixel Bender as a CUDA image-processing language, I don't think anyone other than Adobe has actually added support for Pixel Bender in their apps. MathMap's GIMP plugin might be similar though. – Lèse majesté Mar 15 '13 at 2:11
We need a better open source solution – Muhammad Umer Mar 15 '13 at 4:38

Since you mention you will be working with one (big) piece, you could create your fractal manually in Illustrator or Photoshop. This will give you more freedom to alter shapes and colors.

For PS, start by creating some guides to reference the center:

enter image description here

From the center you've just created, add some vector shapes and merge (smart object in Photoshop):

enter image description here

Duplicate this merged layer by pressing CTRL+J. Once duplicated, select the duplicate and then press CTRL+T to start transforming it. Reduce both the width and height values (to 90%, for example) and change the rotation angle to 20%. Make sure you reposition the new layer as needed so that we have a pivoting pattern from the center:

enter image description here

Repeat the process over and over:

enter image description here

You can then merge again, and create a 'pattern' with your first fractal:

enter image description here

Source (and detailed instructions): Irene Thompson

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Do you know whether it is even possible to create patterns of many different colors in printing? Your idea may work better than let say the idea below? What do you think?… – hhh Mar 15 '13 at 0:05
I'm not sure what you mean, but as long as you work in CMYK (and export in CMYK), you can print anything you like. The range is almost the same as in RGB (…), so both approaches are good :) – Yisela Mar 15 '13 at 0:37

Just another idea, there's a program called Apophysis. It's great for generating fractals and it's free.

It's a bit complicated, but you can get some great results from it. Here is the download link.

Here is an example of an image one of my friends made using Apophysis and Photoshop:

enter image description here Source

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I am not quite sure what is the problem concerning CMYK colors. It's not like fractals have some natural colors that need to be preserved as precisely as possible, the coloring of fractals is just algorithmically generated.

Why don't you just create your fractals in any old fractal tool, with high enough resolution and color depth, load them into photoshop, and tweak the colors in there?

You can even generate a bunch of grayscale images of the same fractal with different assignment of grayscale levels, load them all into photoshop as layers, and create a CMYK colored image from them.

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I'd recommend ChaosPro. It's free for download and has served me well in a couple of fractal projects in the past. Some of the controls are nonintuitive, but it creates a myriad of different fractal types.

As per Yisela's comment, converting an RGB fractal image to CMYK in Photoshop or InDesign should be a snap. Case in point, this is what came off press for me:

enter image description here

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Visions of Chaos. ( commercial software )

I've not used the application personally. I just know the author's blog because of great stuffs he has done with organic cellular automata - astonishing. For info, the blog is Softology (Fractals, Chaos Theory, Science, Space, etc)

So I have not used the software Visions of Chaos but here is a gallery of work done by users

And here are some eye catching ones taken from it:

A blue fractal space A fractal texture Ghost ship in red

Full sample galleries gallery of images here and movies here

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Any idea how to create some 3D object such as a house with this tool? – hhh Mar 18 '13 at 17:36
I think he has an implementation of the Mandelbulb fractal that is considered the interesting fractal in 3d. Tweaking this fractal so as it resembles a house may takes sometimes... however on google image search there are lots of results for Mandelbulb 3D, and maybe some will give you inspiration or a starting point ( I've seen some with cubic shapes that could be a starting point for a building shape). I have tried this search:… – Stephane Rolland Mar 18 '13 at 17:41
with this one you could do appartments:… – Stephane Rolland Mar 18 '13 at 17:54
This is also pretty cool with Mandelbulb – hhh Mar 18 '13 at 18:06
yep :) but it's maybe pretty hard modify this one a little so as to make it look like a house... – Stephane Rolland Mar 18 '13 at 18:08

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