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Fractal Art: Create a 3D Julian Fractal in Apophysis

This post is part of a series called Fractal Art for Beginners.
Fractal Art: How to Create Grand Julians in Apophysis
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Apophysis is well known for its ability to create amazingly intricate 2D and 3D flame fractals. In this tutorial you will learn how to create a 3D Julian fractal. I will be using a 64 bit version of Apophysis 7x; however, 32 bit versions will work the same for this tutorial. The concepts are very similar to creating a 2D Grand Julian but will include the usage of modifying variations to achieve a pseudo-3D appearance.

1. Setting Up the Scene

Step 1

Load the Apophysis program, and then open the Editor window. Click the New Flame button to create a blank canvas from which we will work.

Creating a Blank Flame to Start With

Step 2

Before we begin adding any elements to the fractal, it is a good idea to set a basic color scheme. This can easily be changed in the future. Close the Editor window and open the Gradient Adjustment window. Choose a gradient for the fractal. I have selected gradient 576_Gold_and_Blue to work with.

Selecting a Gradient To Work With

2. Base Transforms

Step 1

We'll begin by adding in the base of the fractal. I like to start with this part because it is the foundation on which we can build. Additionally, by starting here, you always know which transform is the base and can easily modify it in the future. Working in a consistent manner each time you create a fractal can greatly improve your efficiency, allowing you to focus on the creative aspects rather than the logistics.

To start, switch to the Variations tab and remove the linear variation from the transform by changing its value to 0. Next, add in a small amount of hemisphere—about 0.35 should work nicely. To encourage the base to stand out more and to remove unnecessary visual iteration of the fractal on itself, add in 0.5 of the pre_blur variation. You should now see a big circle in the preview window.

Creating a Good Base Layer as a Foundation

Step 2

Click the Add Transform button to add in Transform #2. This transform will control the structure and look of the fractal. It will provide the basis for how the rest of the fractal will look, and you can make any major modifications to the fractal's appearance from this transform.

Still in the Variations tab of the Editor, remove linear by changing its value to 0. Add in a julian value of 0.85. Additionally, place a small amount of distortion on this transform by adding in 0.0125 of the hemisphere variation.

Adding in the Structure of the Fractal

Step 3

The structure of the fractal will need more emphasis or weight directed to it than other transforms of the fractal. We can tell Apophysis to focus its attention on the structure by increasing the Weight value. Change this value to 10.

Increasing the Weight of the Structure Transform

Step 4

Now switch over to the Variables tab. The variables of the julian formula give you great power and control over the appearance of the fractal. Modify the variables so that julian_power is 2 and the julian_dist = -1.

Making Adjustments to the Julian Variables

Step 5

Next we will make some adjustments to the coloring of the fractal. Up to this point, everything is one color. Select the Colors tab. Change the Transform Color and Color speed values to something you like. I have selected 0.281 for the Transform Color and 0.6 for the Color speed.

Change to Transform #1 and choose -0.5 for the Color speed. Keep in mind that these color settings and the entire gradient can be modified later if you find something not exactly to your liking.

Modifying the Color Settings

3. Going 3D

Step 1

Ready to go 3D? Close the Editor window and open the Adjustments window.

Modify the Pitch value to something of your liking. This changes the view of the fractal from an overhead view to a side/profile view. A value between 35 and 75 will generally work best. I have chosen 40.

Changing the Pitch of the Fractal Camera

Step 2

Next we can modify the Yaw and Perspective. The yaw value essentially changes the rotation of the fractal on the 3D plane. The perspective simply adjusts the fractal to a new perspective. This feature is not documented at all and thus requires some experimentation to truly see what it does.

A Perspective of 0.2 is a good place to start. Modify the Yaw setting to something that you feel looks pleasing. I have gone with a value of 125 for the moment, and may modify this setting later on based on upcoming changes.

Further Modifications to the 3D View

Step 3

Close the Adjustment window and open the Editor Window. Switch to the Triangle tab.

Make certain that you have Transform #2, your Julian structure transform, selected. Move this transform to the right by 0.4 units. Change the Scale value to 110 and scale down twice by clicking the smaller Triangle button. The 3D Julian is now becoming very evident!

The Julian Shape Emerges After Moving Transform 2

Step 4

Here we will be adding a new transform which will give our fractal more detail. Click the New Transform button to add in Transform #3. On the Variations tab remove linear by changing its value to 0. Add in the julian variation by a value of 0.36.

In the Variables tab, change julian_power to 6 and julian_dist to -1.

An Additional Julian Transform Has Been Added

Step 5

Within the editor window, we want to modify the shape of the Transform #3 triangle. With your mouse, left-click on the Y-node of the green triangle (Transform #3). Drag this node down until the triangle is a flat line on the 0 degree mark with the X-Axis. This will give you some nice spikes on the fractal.

Switch back to the Variations tab, where we will make a few modifications to the positioning of Transform #3. Add in 0.01 of zcone and 0.108 of ztranslate.

Changing the Triangles Shape Can Create Spikes

Step 6

Let's add one more transform to create more detail by clicking the New Transform button. This adds Transform #4 to our fractal. On the Variations tab, remove linear by changing its value to 0. Add in julian with a value of 0.45. Change ztranslate to 0.025.

Switch to the Variables tab and change julian_power to 10 and julian_dist to -1.

Adding More Details by Means of Another Transform

4. Refinements

Now is the time to make refinements to your fractal. The entire base structure is there as well as the details. I will provide a list of modifications I made so that you can replicate the final design.

The following is a list of adjustments I made to our 3D Julian fractal design.

In the Gradient Adjustment window I switched to the gradient 600_Mystery. I then used the Rotate setting and chose -115. I changed the Saturation to 70 and Brightness to 82.

Next, I switched to the Editor window and for Transform #2 in the Triangle tab I scaled down by 110 once. I then moved Transform #2 to the right by 0.05 units. In the Colors tab I changed the Color speed to 0.7.

I then changed the Weight of Transform #1 to a value of 2.

Then, switching to Transform #3 and the Variables tab, I changed the value of julian_power to 25. In the Colors tab I changed the Transform color value to 0.06 and the Color Speed to 0.5.

Next I duplicated this transform by clicking the Duplicate Transform button at the top of the editor. This created Transform #5. I lowered the Weight to a value of 0.25. On the Variations tab, julian was modified to 0.35. The ztranslate value was changed to 0, zscale to 0.721 and zcone to 0.345. On the Variables tab I modified julian_power to 8.

Finally, I switched to the Adjustments window to make some modifications to the camera. I changed the following values:

  • Depth Blur: 0.01
  • Pitch: 38.25
  • Yaw: 229.4
  • Height: -0.254
  • Perspective: 0.7427
  • Scale: 25.4265
The 3D Julian Fractal After Many Refinements

5. Rendering

Finally, after all that hard work, there is no doubt you will want to render your 3D Julian fractal!

Click the Render button in the main Apophysis window to open the Render Dialog window. Size settings are entirely up to you. Remember that the larger the size, the longer the render will take. Set the Density to 10000 and the Filter Radius to 1. An Oversample value of 1 or 2 can be used, but there is no need to go higher than this. The large filter radius will give a smooth overall look to the rendered fractal. 

Now click Start, and go grab a coffee!

The Final Result

Congratulations! You've just completed your first 3D Julian fractal in Apophysis. It certainly is a lot of work and involves many small details, but the finished product is well worth all of the effort.

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