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Fractal Art: How to Create Grand Julians in Apophysis

This post is part of a series called Fractal Art for Beginners.
Fractal Art: Using Final Transforms in Apophysis
Fractal Art: Create a 3D Julian Fractal in Apophysis
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial you will learn how to use the Apophysis fractal program to create a Grand Julian style fractal from scratch. The Grand Julian style gets its name from the Julia set formula credited to the French mathematician Gaston Julia. Julian is a corruption of his last name with the addition of the “n” to stand for the numeric variable being applied to the formula.

At the end of this tutorial you'll be able to create a fractal similar to this one.

What You Will Be Creating

1. Setting Up the Base

Step 1

After opening Apophysis, click the Gradient button in the main toolbar to open up the Gradient Adjustment window. We will now be selecting a color palette with which to work. You may wish to adjust this later but for now we want something that will allow us to see the contrast between the various transforms we will be adding.

I have chosen 076_gris.landscape as my gradient. If you would like to follow along exactly with me, please do the same. In addition to this, change the Rotate setting to -14. This setting simply moves through the gradient to choose a new starting point. We've done this since the beginning color of the gradient is rather dark and thus makes the entire base dark and difficult to see.

Gradient Selection

Step 2

Close the Adjustments window and open the Editor from the main toolbar. We first need to clear out the random fractal that was generated and start with a clean canvas. Click New Flame in the top left-hand corner to reset the fractal to a blank state.

Creating a Blank Flame

Step 3

We now have a transform with Linear = 1 setup. Locate the Variations tab in the Editor and change linear from 1 to 0. Scroll down the variation list until you find blur and change this to 0.45.

You should now see a large orange circle in the preview window. This is the base for the fractal. It has a profound effect on the rest of the Julian texture and shape, and thus is paramount to the overall “feel” of the fractal. 

Adding the Base

Step 4

Click the New Transform button at the top of the editor toolbar. This adds the yellow triangle Transform 2. Once again, locate linear in the variations tab and remove it by changing 1 to 0. Next, find julian in this list and change its value to 1.

The Julian formula and this transform in particular will control the overall structure of the fractal. Even minute changes to this transform can drastically alter the overall appearance.

Adding in the Julian Transform

Step 5

Before moving onward, we need to make more vital modifications to Transform 2. Change the Weight value to something relatively high, such as 15. We want the rendering engine to give high priority to this transform and run the majority of pixel calculations through it.

Switch to the Variables tab. Change julian_power to 2 and julian_dist to -1. These values project the Julian variation away from the center of the fractal rather than towards it as it was set up previously.

Finally, change to the Triangle tab. Rotate the transform 45 degrees (default 15 x3) counterclockwise. Move the transform up 0.3 units by clicking the up arrow 3 times with the default of 0.1 units. No doubt at this point you see a drastic change in the preview window.

Modifying the Julian Transform

Step 6

Next we will change the color of transform 2. This adjustment can be very time consuming and will need modification throughout the design process. Feel free to spend as much time as you like on it.

Switch to the Colors tab. Modify the Transform Color value from 0 to 0.943. Take note of the change in appearance of the overall fractal in the preview window. Changing the Color Speed setting also drastically impacts the fractal’s appearance. We will be leaving this setting as is for the moment, but feel free to adjust it and see what effect it has on your fractal.

More Julian Adjustments

At this point in the tutorial you have the very basic Julian setup. As the name of the tutorial implies, we want a Grand Julian! How do we make it grand? Follow along as we add intricate detail with more Julian transforms.

2. Adding the Details

Step 1

Now it is time to get creative with more Julian transforms. Each transform we will be adding will include a different amount of the Julian variation and modifications to the variables in the Variables tab.

Add a new transform by clicking the New Transform button in the Editor toolbar. This will add in a new, green transform: transform #3. In the Variations tab, change the linear value from 1 to 0. Find julian and change this value to 0.46. Notice this is 0.01 unit larger than our base Transform #1.

Switch to the Variables tab and change julian_power to 22 and julian_dist to -1.

Finally change to the Colors tab and set the Transform Color to 0.726 and Color speed to -0.5.

Adding in New Julian Transforms

Step 2

At this point, adding new details is as simple as duplicating the transform. Click the Duplicate transform button at the top of the editor to create Transform 4.

In the Variations tab, modify the value of julian to 0.56.

Switch to the Variables tab and change the julian_power value to 12.

Then to the Colors tab where you can adjust the variables to your liking. I chose the following settings:

Modifying the New Julian Details

Step 3

Let's now reduce the size of the blurred base transform. Switch to Transform #1 and on the Variations tab change the blur variation to 0.25. In addition, change the Weight to 2 to give more presence to the base. You should notice a drastic change to the fractal in the preview window.

Changing the Size of the Blurred Base

Step 4

Select Transform 4 again and then click the Duplicate Transform button in the toolbar. This will provide us with a new julian transform to work with.

Change things up this time and add 0.05 gausian_blur to the transform on the Variations tab. Change the julian setting to 0.3.

Switch to the Variables tab and set the julian_power to 26.

In the Colors tab, modify Transform color to 0.486 and Color Speed to -0.199.

You have now created your first Grand Julian fractal. There is still much customization that you can add, and some suggestions are provided below.

Yet More Modifications to the Transforms

3. Finishing Up the Fractal and Rendering

Step 1

I personally am not a fan of the color scheme thus far. Close the Editor window for now and let's choose a different gradient from the Gradient adjustment window.

Select 007_fashion-bug and change the Rotate value to -122.

You'll notice that the word Rotation has a dropdown arrow beside it. Click this and select Saturation. Change this value to 10. This increases the saturation of the gradient. There are many other options in this dropdown menu to explore in adjusting the colors of your fractal.

Changing the Color Scheme

Step 2

Now we need to make some adjustments to the framing of the fractal. We're going to do some simple framing for this fractal but I encourage you to experiment and find some more interesting angles and zooms.

Switch to the Camera tab of the Adjustment window. Change the Rotation value to 45. Now take your mouse and left-click and drag over the word Scale to increase the zoom of the fractal. Do not use the Zoom slider as this will cause your fractal to render very slowly.

Adjusting the Camera Settings

Step 3

Close the Adjustment window. Click the purple gear button in the main toolbar of Apophysis to open the Render window.

Choose the name and file destination for your fractal render.

Change the Density setting to 10,000. Filter Radius can be set to your preference. I like to go with higher values such as 1. Do not set the Oversample to a value higher than 2.

Click Start to begin the render.

Rendering Settings

Congratulations! You've completed your first Grand Julian fractal from scratch all the way to final render. Now that you have the basics under your belt, it's time to explore the fractal further.

The Final Result

4. Take It a Step Further

Notice the incredible change to the fractal that adding one more Julian transform and changing the framing can create.

Effects of Small Tweaks on the Main Render

Try using different variations on the base transform (Transform #1). Experiment with the gradients window and colors tab of the Editor to find new pieces of the fractal that were previously hidden. Don't forget to try adding small amounts of other variations to the Julian transforms and see how they interact. 

Finally, use a Final Transform. This powerful transform can drastically alter the overall structure of your fractal and provide you with incredible new forms that you never thought of previously.

Here are a few more examples of some Grand Julians for your inspiration.

Checkmate by Stan Ragets
Pause by Stan Ragets
Challenge 10 By Stan Ragets
L by Stan Ragets
O By Stan Ragets
SR by Stan Ragets
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