Okay, so, in my thread over in the art section, I posted a topic about 3D fractal art, along with some images that I've created. It can be found here: My 3D fractal art
That stuff is complicated. I mean, 3D rendering always is, right? But this is different from, say, making 3D objects in Blender or whatever. Very different. Fractals are very strange things. And 3D fractals are even stranger. But how in the world do you actually make images like those? Well, I figured I'd show a bit of the process here, just for the heck of it. Maybe it'll inspire someone to give it a try themselves. While it's complex as heck... it is, actually, not too difficult to get started with it. I'd created the first couple of images in that thread in the first day of using the program. There are excellent, easy to grasp tutorials out there that give you the basics... and from there, it's all about exploration and experimentation. Which, incidentally, are two terms that apply to the general process as a whole.
I'll give just a very quick show of how it works.
First of all, this is what the program looks like:
That right there is what it looked like when the animation was about ready to start processing. If it looks hideously complex, that's because it IS hideously complex. There are sooooooo many features and concepts that I havent explored. I mean, look at all those controls! And that sure aint all of them. There's more windows with more buttons and sliders and numbers and whatever.
The process for creating though is oddly straightforward. But it's very, very different from normal 3D rendering.
When you start the program initially, you're going to see this:
That's sort of the default object. When you're new to the program, there's PLENTY to mess around with here, just with this one thing. But, after a little bit of experimentation, you're ready to try to make something new.
If you look at the "formulas" window on the far right of the interface screenshot I showed, well, that's where a lot of the initial magic happens. That tab is what is used to create... whatever that is. You can see a lot of individual tabs. Inside each, you can select from what I assume are giant mathematical formulas. Those formulas, you dont need to understand them (and many people who use this do not). That part is not important to creating these. Instead, you just have to know that all those little numbers in there are what define how the object generates. But before you mess with those, you want to choose a formula to work with.
Let's go in and pick one:
So, here's another basic shape, using the "AmazingBox2" formula. All those numbers under that tab are the parameters that the math formula uses to generate that object. We can try changing some of them, and see what might happen. Let's make a change to one of those numbers:
Here, all I did was change the "rotate X" parameter a bit. And now we get... whatever that is.
Let's make a couple of other changes, huh? See if we cant get something a little more interesting.
VERY different, eh? It looks a little similar in shape to what I used in my animation video, because I applied similar elements to it. Some of the original shape of what we had earlier is maintained, but there's been some massive changes. Here, I added a second formula to the mix. Adding another formula doesnt create a second object... rather, it merges with what you already had, or applies an effect to it. Needless to say, these formulas are more confusing math things. But you dont really need to understand them, that's not what this is about. In any case, we've got something worth working with here, I think. Now, we COULD end up with something more complicated and intricate, but we wanna keep this quick and a bit simpler for the purposes of this demonstration.
Now, we get to the next step: Exploration.
Well. That was something, wasnt it?
That was the Navigator function. This is generally the most fun part. Making fractal art of any sort is a very experimental process. Unlike normal art, you dont start with just a blank slate and draw from there with a very clear intention. With fractals... particularly the 3D ones... you start with a hideous confusing mess, and you have to experiment. Once you get something at least somewhat satisfying, you use the navigator to fly around / into it, searching for cool shapes, and a good vantage point to view them from. You might notice that the view is a little janky. This stuff is EXTREMELY processor intensive, so rendering this nonsense is a slow process even on an ultra-fast machine like mine. So, the navigator gives a low-quality view that is rendered much faster, making exploration not take forever. In addition, you can still change formula numbers while you're in here, giving you a realtime view of what's going on as you change them (which is lots of fun to do). Sometimes this can get a bit screwy. Heck, even just flying around can get a little screwy. You can see points where the stuff in the distance just sort of blinks out of existence as I move around. It didnt actually vanish, it's merely not rendering because I'm too close to something. This makes the process very... unpredictable. It takes some getting used to, but you'll get better at it as you keep experimenting. But as you see, we eventually find something that looks kinda neat, something we can work with. Once you've found something you like, and have it in frame the way you want, you send it to the main view, and in there, do a proper render. Now, it's not the best shape ever, I probably could have found something cooler. But we'll go with it for now!
Here's the image as it is after that navigating:
But, we sure arent done yet. That final image in the video... Ugly colors, eh? Lighting isnt the best. Let's change the colors and lighting now:
There, that's... a color scheme. Changing colors isnt as easy as simply selecting part of the thing and choosing a color. That's not how fractals work. Rather, we use this thing to do it:
Changing colors here and sliding those boxes around causes different parts of the object to change colors, but you cant really be sure which parts will be affected until you start messing with it. It's hard to get it exactly the way you want... often, not even possible. But you do the best you can here, and the more you mess with this program, the easier it'll be to get something that looks good.
The lighting is much harder to explain.... I'm not going to go into that right now.
But after doing those things, we've one last thing to do, which is add hard shadows, and perform a max quality render:
And there, that's our fractal art image complete. It was simple and quick, but not a bad result.
There are so many features of that program that I didnt touch on. So very, very many. Such as the animation process, which is too long and confusing to describe here. Or additional post-processing stuff, or reflections, or all sorts of other things.
There are very skilled artists out there who can create absolutely stunning images with this software.
Either way though... this is good stuff. I've been really enjoying getting into it since I started on it about a week or so ago. Think it looks interesting? It's not as hard as it looks to get started. Look up a program called Mandelbulb 3D, if you want. It is free! And there are some superb tutorials out there that can give you the basics in hardly any time at all. And from there... it's up to you to explore, learn, and improve.
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