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?

  • 1
    Can you elaborate on what "perfect" means? And where the other apps you mention fail in that respect?
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 22:15
  • 1
    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
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 16:33

9 Answers 9


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


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.

  • 1
    +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
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 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. Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 2:11
  • 1
    We need a better open source solution
    – user8795
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 4:38

Here's a comprehensive list of the best software/online tools available right now

Incendia Fractals - Donationware

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The application includes multiple 3D editors for design and process Fractals as well as the elements that support them. Incendia can also export fractals as meshes, suitable for 3D printing.


  • Multiple 3D Fractal types
  • Large render resolutions (17k for Donors)
  • Supports 2X Antialiasing for smooth fractal renders
  • Fractal Scripting support, for creating new fractal types
  • Texture library and Procedural Texture generators
  • Color Gradient support
  • Multiple Rendering Styles (Including volumetric fog and many new render shaders)
  • Multicore render engine
  • 3D Baseshapes for Fractal based constructions
  • 3D Fractal Editors
  • 3D Baseshape Editor
  • Material Editor
  • 3D Mesh Export (volumetric mesh exports up to 1200x1200x1200 voxels for donors)
  • Buffer Saving (for long renders)
  • Animation Support

Ultra Fractal 6 - Paid with Free Trial

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Ultra Fractal is raster based. The program works using a similar paradigm to Photoshop, allowing multiple layers to be combined using layer blending modes, transformations, and custom fractal formulas. Fractal formulas, coloring algorithms, and transformations may be written by users and a large number of such formula files are available in a public formula database.


  • Create and render fractals
  • Access to thousands of fractal formulas
  • Coloring algorithms
  • Deep zooming
  • Image import
  • Write your own formulas
  • Layers and layer groups
  • Masks
  • Geometric transformations
  • Animations
  • Network calculations

Amberlight 2 - Paid with Free Demo

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Amberlight is a unique art tool that creates beautiful computer generated images and animations. Millions of particles are flying through your canvas and you can drive them with special fields.


  • Fast procedural Amberlight renderer
  • Fractal genre with more control
  • Beautiful predefined gradients
  • Render to image or animation
  • Special modifiers - variations and waves
  • Unlimited Undo & Redo

Chaotica - Freeware

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Chaotica is a next-generation fractal art application, designed for both novices and professional artists.

Novice users can enjoy editing randomized fractals to produce stunning HD wallpapers and animations.

Professional users will particularly value the fast, modern rendering engine. High-quality animations and huge images for print are easily produced, with real-time imaging controls that will dramatically accelerate your workflow.


  • Unrivaled image quality
  • Powerful editor with animation support
  • Modern rendering engine
  • Apophysis / Flam3 compatibility
  • Over 100 "variation" transforms are natively supported, re-implemented for higher performance and accuracy
  • Any transform can be used as pre or post (including DLL plugins) and can be used several times in a flam3 transform with different variables, massively extending Apophysis' fractal creation potential
  • Real-time imaging controls

Electric Sheep - Freeware with Paid Premium Image Access

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Electric Sheep is a collaborative abstract artwork run by thousands of people all over the world and can be installed on almost anything. When these computers "sleep", the Electric Sheep comes on and the computers communicate with each other by the internet to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as "sheep".

You can design your own sheep and submit them to the gene pool. The result is a collective "android dream", blending man and machine with code to create an artificial lifeform.

Fractal Science Kit - Paid with Free Trial

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The Fractal Science Kit fractal generator comes with hundreds of built-in equations, transformations, orbit traps, and color controllers, allow the casual user to produce stunning fractal images while providing the experienced fractal developer a rich set of illustrative examples on which to build his/her own fractal programs.

The Fractal Science Kit fractal generator provides an interactive programming environment with Application Windows for viewing the fractal image, modifying the properties that define the fractal, examining the data behind the fractal, and viewing/editing the fractal programs, macros (inline functions/methods), and color gradients, used by the Fractal Science Kit to produce the final image.

There are 12 different Program Types supported by the Fractal Science Kit fractal generator.

  • Fractal Equations
  • Orbital Equations
  • Alternate Values
  • Orbit Traps
  • Classic Controllers
  • Classic Master Controllers
  • Orbit Trap Controllers
  • Orbit Trap Master Controllers
  • Orbital Controllers
  • Orbital Master Controllers
  • Symmetry Transformations
  • Transformations

Xeno Dream - Paid with Free Trial

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Artist's workshop, adventure playground, tool or toy - Xenodream is a unique 3D graphics program that caters for everything from casual play to serious creativity. Technically, it's a procedural modeler with fractal capabilities, with both rendering and export. It is mostly interactive, with mouse or keyboard control (no programming or formula editing).


  • Create objects from any combination of simple shapes, replication, fractal structures
  • Transform the parts in hundreds of different ways with metamorphs. Result: inexhaustible possibilities
  • Color the objects in various ways
  • Create and edit color gradients, or import them from your files or pictures.
  • Create backgrounds using a powerful texture editor
  • Change views and camera settings
  • Render as pictures
  • Apply lighting, material and artistic effects
  • Export as a mesh
  • Export as a point cloud
  • Create animations for render or export
  • Preview and render in 3d stereo (parallel, cross-eyed or anaglyph)
  • Open picture files for backgrounds; modify with filters
  • Create a depth map from a picture, to texturize it with 3d lighting

Visions of Chaos - Freeware

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Visions of Chaos is a professional high-end software application for Windows. It is simple enough for people who do not understand the mathematics behind it, but advanced enough for fractal enthusiasts to tweak and customize to their needs. It is the most complete all in one application dealing with Chaos Theory available. Every mode is written to give the best possible quality output. There are thousands of sample files included to give you an idea of what Visions of Chaos is capable of.

  • Attractors
  • Cellular Automata
  • Diffusion-Limited Aggregation
  • Flocking
  • Fluid
  • Fractals
  • Genetics
  • Gravity
  • Hypercomplex Fractals
  • Iteration/Recursion
  • Lattice Gas Automata
  • Music
  • OpenGL Shading Language
  • Pendulums
  • Physics
  • Plotting
  • Reaction Diffusion
  • Simulations
  • Snowflakes
  • Video Feedback

Gnofract 4D - Freeware OSX & LINUX ONLY

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Gnofract 4D is a free, open-source program which allows anyone to create beautiful images called fractals. The images are automatically created by the computer based on mathematical principles. These include the Mandelbrot and Julia sets and many more. You don't need to do any math: you can explore a universe of images just using a mouse. It runs on Unix-based systems such as Linux and FreeBSD and can also be run on Mac OS X.

Mandelbulb - Freeware

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Mandelbulb 3D is a free software application created for 3D fractal imaging. Developed by Jesse and a group of Fractal Forums contributors, based on Daniel White and Paul Nylander’s Mandelbulb work, MB3D formulates dozens of nonlinear equations into an amazing range of fractal objects. The 3D rendering environment includes lighting, color, specularity, depth-of-field, shadow- and glow- effects; allowing the user fine control over the imaging effects.

Using a spherical coordinate system, and some ingenious math, White and Nylander projected the Mandelbrot set into three dimensions, creating the Mandelbulb. In 3D-space, we see a more fully realized rendering of the Mandelbrot set. While the flat set exhibits infinite complexity, the Mandelbulb reveals that complexity in a fuller magnitude.

Mandelbulber v2 - Freeware

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Mandelbulber generates three-dimensional fractals. Explore trigonometric, hyper-complex, Mandelbox, IFS, and many other 3D fractals. Render with a great palette of customizable materials to create stunning images and videos.


  • Renders trigonometric, hyper-complex, Mandelbox, IFS, and many other 3D fractals
  • Complex 3D ray-marching: hard shadows, ambient occlusion, depth of field, translucency & refraction, etc.
  • Rich GUI in Qt 5 environment
  • Unlimited image resolution on 64-bit systems
  • Program compiled for x86 and x64 CPUs (Linux, Windows, OSX)
  • Simple 3D navigator
  • Distributed Network Rendering
  • Rendering using OpenCL
  • Key-frame animation for all parameters with different interpolations
  • Material management
  • Texture mapping (color, luminosity, diffusion, normal maps, displacement)
  • Exporting of 3D objects
  • Rendering queue
  • Command line interface for headless systems

JWildfire - Freeware

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JWildire is the spiritual successor of the award-winning special effect program Wildfire\7PPC for the Amiga – but this time implemented in Java and with a more sophisticated user interface and better effects.


  • stunning 3D effects (such as wave3D, water, twirl3d, ...)
  • 3D effect superimposition (e. g. wave3D interference)
  • powerful Fractal flame generator
  • image generators (perlin noise, cloud generator, plasma, ...)
  • many "common" image processing effects in 2D (such as twirl, erode, convolve, ...)
  • simple but powerful user interface which allows it to animate nearly any parameter by just a few mouse clicks
  • Sunflow integration


  • 1
    Awesome. Every single image.
    – Jongware
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 22:35
  • 1
    Wow, I would upvote this twice if I could. Great post!
    – jon
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 7:03

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


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.


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.


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


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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/39445835@N05/sets/ and movies here http://www.youtube.com/user/Softology/videos

  • Any idea how to create some 3D object such as a house with this tool?
    – hhh
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 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: google.com/… Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 17:41
  • with this one you could do appartments: t3.gstatic.com/… Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 17:54
  • This is also pretty cool with Mandelbulb commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mandelbulb_close_up.png
    – hhh
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 18:06
  • yep :) but it's maybe pretty hard modify this one a little so as to make it look like a house... Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 18:08

In the Fractal Foundation, you can see all the available software. But I'd recommend the following that you could try out:

  • JWildfire (http://jwildfire.org/) that it's free and user-friendly image-processing software, mostly known for its sophisticated flame fractal generator and
  • Electric Sheep (https://electricsheep.org/) an incredible evolving collaborative fractal screensaver project.
  • 3
    Hi KOstas, thanks for your answer. Unfortunately, if the link ever goes obsolete, your answer will become useless. Could you maybe edit your answer and add the most important points of it? We're glad to have you, so feel free to read through the tour, look around, add more answers or ask a question yourself.
    – PieBie
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 9:54
  • Sure I will! Sorry about this
    – KOstas
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 12:45

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