1. Design & Illustration
  2. Fractals

Fractal Art: How to Create Basic Fractal Flowers in Apophysis

This post is part of a series called Fractal Art for Beginners.
Fractal Art: Create a Tile Fractal in Apophysis
Fractal Art: Advanced Flowers in Apophysis
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

The basic fractal flower needs only two total transforms. With practice you will be able to create a wide variety of unique and fun fractal flowers using this technique. I'm using specific numbers for the weights and variations so that you are able to reproduce the results exactly and gain a working knowledge of how these flowers are created. You should feel free to experiment with the values after you have worked through the tutorial.

1. Set the Stage

Step 1

Begin by opening the Editor window in Apophysis and choosing the New flame option to reset to a blank screen.

Creating A New Blank Flame

Step 2

Remove linear from the transform on the Variations tab by changing it to 0. Set the spherical variation to 1.

Changing the Default Variations

2. Setting Up the Two Base Transforms

Step 1

Move this first transform up 0.5 units and to the right 0.2 units. The easiest way to accomplish this is to switch to the Triangle tab and set the units to 0.1. Then use the up arrow five times and the right arrow twice. This will allow you to maintain precision until you begin to adjust this transform by hand.

Moving Transform 1 into Position

Step 2

Now we need to rotate the transform by 105 degrees. To do this, change the degrees of rotation from 15 to 105 and click the Rotate clockwise button.

Rotating Transform 1

Step 3

Before we move on to the next transform, let's modify the weight of this spherical transform slightly. We want Apophysis to focus more on this transform than the next. The default weight for all new transforms is 0.5. Change the Weight on Transform 1 to 0.75.

Modifying the Transforms Weight

Step 4

Create a new transform by clicking on the New transform button at the top of the Editor's toolbar.

Adding the Second Transform

Step 5

Before we move this transform, let's modify the variations applied to it. Currently linear is set to 1. Switch to the Variations tab and change linear to something around 0.55. You can modify this value later to see how it changes the effect. Additionally, add in radial blur with a value of 0.45.

Changing the Variations of Transform 2

Step 6

Modify the Weight of Transform 2 to 0.23.

Adjusting Weight of Transform 2

3. Finer Positioning of the Transforms

Step 1

The next few steps can be a bit tricky, so keep your eye on the variation preview window on the top right-hand side of the Editor to see how the fractal is being affected by the changes you make. Change to the Triangle tab. Use the smaller triangle in the Editor to decrease the size of the triangle by 125. Do this a total of seven times. Each time you click the triangle to reduce the size, notice how the shape of the fractal is beginning to form.

Shrinking the Transform

Step 2

This adjustment could be done with great precision in the Editor text boxes, but we are going to do it by hand to gain a better understanding of the effects a transform has on a fractal.

Click on the Y-axis of the second transform. It will be the yellow circle node with the Y beside it. Drag this node down and to the left so that you stretch the triangle and flatten it out.

Modifying the Transform by Hand

Step 3

Going back to your Editor tools on the Triangle tab, move Transform 2 to the right by 0.6 units.

Moving Transform 2 Into Place

Step 4

Rotate Transform 2 clockwise by 105 degrees. This action gives us the structure of the petals. Switch to the Variables tab and change the radial_blur_angle to 0.2444. This adjustment affects the shape of the petal.

Creating the Petals

4. Setting Up the Colors

Step 1

Before we finish up the structure of the fractal, let's adjust the colors. In the Adjustments panel, choose the Gradient tab and select the gradient 100_rw_yellow_orange.

Selecting the Gradient

Step 2

Switch back to the Editor and this time the Colors tab for Transform 2. Change the Transform color number from 0.0 to 1.0. Adjust the Color speed to somewhere around 0.015.

Setting the Colors for Transform 2

Step 3

Make Transform 1 active. Change the Color speed setting to about 0.66. Drag along the Transform color slider until you find a color combination you like. Feel free to adjust the Color speed as well.

Modifying the Colors of Transform 1

5. Bringing It All Together

Step 1

If you're still with me, so far it looks as if all we have created is a big mess. That is about to change. Make certain Transform 1 is still active. In the toolbar of the Editor, click the Flip horizontal button. This button looks like two tall triangles side by side. Notice the transformation!

Using Flip Horizontal to Create the Flower

Step 2

Now we're really seeing all of this hard work pay off. This step requires finesse and patience. The origin of each transform is a node labeled with a capital O. You can click on this node and drag the entire transform around the plane. Try it now, and as you do, observe the amazing transformation of the fractal. Take your time and try to find a nice flower design.

Moving Transform 1 to Find A Flower

Step 3

Once you find a flower shape you're satisfied with, close the Editor window. In the main window, use the zoom and positioning tools to focus on a particular part of the flower and give more visual interest and presentation to your fractal. A tool in the toolbar called Show guidelines will allow you to visualize the rule of threes.

Positioning the Scene for Presentation

6. Final Adjustments

Your fractal may appear to be dark, as mine does in the above image. You can easily correct lighting issues with the Adjustment panel.

Inside the adjustment panel, switch to the Rendering tab. Here you can adjust the amount of gamma (in this case pixel depth) and the brightness of the fractal. At times, the main window of Apophysis will mislead you with regard to brightness. Trust the smaller preview window in the Adjustment panel when you notice discrepancies.

If we render this fractal now (feel free to test it out), you will notice an extreme amount of “fractal dust” in some images. This can be desirable at times, but in this particular case, it looks as if we do not know what we're doing and we've just created a mess. 

Let's remedy that by lowering the Gamma setting down to 1.2. This reduces the total amount of pixel depth. Next, change your Brightness setting to somewhere between 1.2 and 3. This style of fractal is naturally bright and reflective, so too much brightness will easily lead to the whites being blown out.

Brightness adjustment

7. Rendering the Fractal

The last step is to render the fractal. Click the purple gear on the toolbar of the main window to access the rendering interface. Here you will want to adjust several options, including where to save your fractal image and at what size you wish to render it. 

Keep in mind that large renders can take several hours to days to complete. Also bear in mind that you can choose a jpg image extension to have a solid background when saving your image, or select the png format for a transparent background.

Set the Density to 10,000. Change Filter Radius to 1. This will render a very smooth fractal. If you want more crisp edges, lower this value to 0.5, or feel free to experiment with other settings. 

The Oversample setting will render the fractal at the size you have chosen, multiplied by its number, and then downsize the image automatically to create a smoother image overall. In our case, rendering the fractal at 600 pixels wide with an oversample of 3 means that Apophysis will render the fractal internally at 1800 pixels wide and then downsize it automatically. In this instance, an oversample of 3 is very useful. Don't go crazy with the oversample setting, as it requires exponentially more RAM and is rarely useful above the value of 3. For some very large renders, I only use an oversample of 1.

Adjusting the Render Settings
Final Render

Below are a few different renders I created by modifying values and dragging the spherical transform around in the Editor. Try experimenting by modifying the values of the variations on both transforms. Adjust the weights to see how it affects the overall image. Move both transforms around and rotate them to discover more combinations and some incredible effects. Above all, have fun!

Taking It One Step Further

Crackle Flower by Stan Ragets

To make the flower above, I added the crackle variation to the radial blur/linear transform. In addition, I changed several values on crackle to create a small blurred effect. Try adding other variations to the linear/radial blur transform to create some interesting structures.

Fractal Flower with Final Transform by Stan Ragets

I created the above piece by modifying the radial blur value and adding in a Curl3D final transform. I then modified the values for Curl3D and repositioned the scene. Try adding in different final transforms to see powerful affects on the fractal.

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