Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mandelbulb 3D Tutorial: Formula Parameter Adjuster Bar

It's so nice to be back into doing this. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy playing around with Mandelbulb 3D =)

So! The Formula Adjuster... Jesse actually implemented this amazingly useful little feature ages ago. If you don't already know about it, believe me, you're going to love it.

You know how annoying it can be sometimes, when, after looking for a good combination of formulae and finally finding something that looks like it might work; that might produce your next beautiful fractal art piece, you set your eyes on those formula parameters and your heart sinks... Because now, you have to make small adjustments going back and forth between formula tab and render, trying to find something that looks interesting/unique.

Well, for those who understand the in-depth workings of the formulae/parameters and how they might affect a fractal, this process might be a bit easier because of course they have some idea of what to expect when they adjust such-and-such a parameter, or add such-and-such a formula after having done this or that...

But as for the rest of us... It's all guess-work, really. Especially in the beginning. And thus, Jesse thought of us! Hehe... Presenting, the parameter adjuster bar!

The Parameter Adjuster Bar

To find it, you need to open the Navigator, and click on the little arrow in the bottom right corner (yes, that inconspicuously framed red one ;P).

So, for the purposes of this tutorial page, I chose everybody's favourite, AmazingBox, as Formula 1. And I tried a few before settling on ABoxVeryScale for Formula 2. What you see in the above image is one corner of the AmazingBox without any adjustments. As you can see up there on the right, where I've underlined in red, you can choose which formula to work with. F. nr. is "Formula number" and I've got it on Formula 2, ABoxVaryScale.

You'll notice also, the "min", "fine", "mid" and "big" options right at the top. These are extremely useful, because they determine just how much a parameter will change when you slide the scales left or right. This is good because most of the time, changes in very small numbers can have big effects on your fractal.

And because you're already in the Navigator, you will see the adjustments affecting the fractals right there and then! =) Let me demonstrate.

With the "min" option, the changes were too imperceptible, so I started with "fine" on the Fold parameter:

Fine Adjustment

Notice how the parameter value only increases by 0.09375, but the image has changed noticeably. You'll see that when you let go of the mouse button after dragging, the scale bar snaps back to the center. Then you can adjust further, like so:

Fine Adjustment 02
I dragged it to the right three times. You see how you can perceive the changes to the fractal as you drag the bar? I love this. I never really used this feature properly before, and I can't wait to get started.

Other important bits to notice: That "Reset value" button. It does what it says: It resets the parameter value that you last adjusted back to the value found in Mandelbulb3D's main program Formula tab. On the other hand, if you click the "Send value" button, it takes whatever the current parameter value is and sends it to the Formula tab, so that then, the "Reset value" button will return the value to the one you sent to the main program, not the "default" formula value.

The other wonderful thing here is the "Julia values (x,y,z)" tab at the top. Open that up and you can preview the current formulae as they would appear in Julia mode, as well as adjust the x, y, and z values to find something interesting, all before rendering anything! And of course, once you find your "spot", as normal, you click on the "View to main" button there at the bottom left and "Calculate 3D" in the main program.

Wow: I hadn't even tried that "Divers:" tab, so I clicked on it to see, and lo and behold, more parameters to change! Global parameters that affect all formulae, like Dynamic Fog, DEstop, and Max Iterations. Adjustments you can observe as you change the values! Amazing.

To demonstrate further, here are a few more images, with explanatory captions (I will reset the value every time before making another change):

Fine Adjustment to the "Min R" parameter to 0.125

Mid adjustment to the "Scale" parameter to 0.975

Mid adjustment to the "Scale vary" parameter to -0.6

Mid adjustment to the "R power" parameter to 0.525

Many changes to various parameters! =) And zoomed in a bit.

You must also remember that I manipulated the very outer corner of the entire Amazing Box. If you start zooming in and discovering landscapes within it, then even "min" adjustments will result in big changes. At that scale, the tiniest of numbers matter a lot.

How great is this? I really can't wait to get stuck in and make some art. The possibilities are a bit overwhelming, really... How many times have I just gotten lost within a fractal for hours without "producing" anything....? And that was before this feature!

Okay, that's it for this post. This new version of Mandelbulb 3D has many new tabs and buttons that I don't recognise, so I'll be playing around and will make tutuorials as I learn =) Also, I'm planning on finally learning how to make videos, for which I'll make a separate tutorial. Really looking forward to it all!

To finish this off, here's a high-resolution image of my last adjustment example above, for your viewing pleasure =) ... (Click on it for full size):

Corner of the AmazingBox HD with ABoxVaryScale adjustments and colour changes.

If my tutorial is helping you, please consider supporting me over at my Patreon page.
I also have a deviantArt gallery.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I'm back!

Hellooo, one and all!

Please forgive my long, long absence... It has been a hectic year for me, especially the part where my computer died back in July last year, and I had to wait almost 5 months before being able to buy a new one. But oh, what a new one it is! =) I now have an Intel i7, and from the little bit of zipping around in Mandelbulb 3D's navigator that I did today, I have a feeling I'll be rendering up beautiful fractals in a fraction of the time it used to take with my ol' Core² Duo.

But what, you may ask, have I been doing with my new uber PC if I've had it since November already? Well, I think you guys may all be interested, in fact. You see, I pride myself in being a diverse, multi-faceted human being, with many interests that absorb my attention. So besides having to work a bit more than usual, this is what I've been doing:


I confess to it completely. It's an awesome game, and I believe, still in its infancy. The potential uses of a platform like Minecraft... I get excited thinking about it. But for the present, I've just been enjoying myself playing the game. I started a YouTube channel, joined a server, got to know a few people, built an Earth (diameter of 64 blocks), and have generally had a great time. The possibility of importing fractals into Minecraft is also something I can't wait to try (with Mandelbulb 3D's new Voxelstack feature =).

Amateur Insights of a Reasoning Mammal

Next, there's my other blog about Life, the Universe and Everything. For the more pontifical of you, I address a few issues to do with the nature of reality, God (or lack of), and the human mind. I've just started it, so there are only 5 or so posts, but I've got plans to be just as active there as I am going to be here again. In fact, you have a certain view of the universe and how "it all" works, right? If you're interested in writing it all down, I'm interested in reading about it =) And then, if you like, I'll put it up on the "Your Story" page. Go check it out =)

Uhm... Well, that's about it, really... Hehe. I also have a girlfriend, please remember...! ;P

Hmm... I think I'll leave this post as is instead of including a bit about my recent experiments with the new version of Mandelbulb 3D. I'll make that a post on its own.

Anyway, thank you for all you guys who've been visiting my blog, following my tutorial, etc. I'm very close to 50 000 pageviews! That was a nice surprise to see =) ... My goal is to get that to 100 000 in a much shorter period of time.

Tchau for now!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

3D Fractal Art (Mine and in general)

So I thought I should finally share some of my favourite pieces that I've done so far, and also talk a bit about how I go about the creation process.

The first issue on my mind is something that came up in an e-mail with a new friend of mind, Jing-reed, who has recently left a few very kind comments at the bottom of my Mandelbulb 3D tutorial pages. I told him that I've had a rule, since I started: Never load other people's parameters to work off of. I tried this a few times way back, but producing anything in this way always made me feel a bit empty... Like the piece wasn't really, truly mine. And this still holds true... But, my friend mentioned that he has used Ultra-Fractals for some time and had always used other people's parameters as a way to learn techniques, which he could then use later in original works of his own... Why I never thought of doing this is beyond me...

Ok, now, on to some of my artwork...

The first piece I was really proud of, and still today is my favourite, would be "Fury" :

I remember I came upon it by accident, when I first learnt how to use the cutting tool. It's simply the Mandelbox formula, cut along it's z-axis. I tweaked the parameters very slightly, zoomed into the edge of one of the Mandelbrot shapes, and found something that looked cool. A few colour changes, and a bit of mist, and voila, I achieved the above. It's got an organic feel to it that I really like. Much of the other stuff I've done is much more mechanical.

One such example, although it's got a touch of organic-ness in it too, is Mechaniclysm:

Without loading the m3i in Mandelbulb 3D, what I can tell you from memory is that it's a Julia, of some formula combined with one of the Menger formulae. I remember zooming in a LOT, until I found that spot... And I only noticed the doubled M's after I'd uploaded it to my Deviant Art account =)

Then, my most recent two pieces, I am especially proud of =) ... :

"Dawn at the Polynite Mines of Mistle"

Dawn at the Polynite Mines of Mistle
This one was, as the name so cryptically suggests, a combination of the Msltoe_Sym formula and the _Polyfolding add-on. I really want to explore this combination more... It's really beautiful, and has a lot of landscape-creating potential. With some colour next time, I plan on creating something beautifully fantasy-inspired. The only problem is that the Msltoe_sym formula takes forever to render. The above took a day and a half o.O ...

and "Primary Seat of the Angry Child Buddha" ...

Primary Seat of the Angry Child Buddha
This was done with only the MengerIFS formula, after I friendly-challenged Mandelwerk to create something beautiful using it only, hehe. (The question being discussed at the time was how I believed it was a challenge to find not-so-fractally-looking images in order to create really beautiful fractal artwork. Mandelwerk correctly pointed out that many of his very good artworks are at the same time obviously very fractally). (See the two examples he gave:  Pupal Metamorphosis of Queen Cleopatra and Mathematicians framed by their own formulas).

The seated buddha in the center quite luckily and extraordinarily appeared when I clicked there with the first positional light. I then went and used all the available light tabs to add more. (Only positional lighting was used).

As for the creational process... Well, as already illuded to, most of what I've done so far has been with a lot of frustrated perseverance, and luck. Looking for a great fractal form can take forever... And then, suddenly, something will pop up and you can spend hours saving location after location for possible use later. And hours more playing around with the colours of each one. (Also remember, always render your fractal to the size you want it before perfecting the colours. If you do the colours first, they will change dramatically when rendering up.)

Lastly, Jesse has added a wonderful new feature to the program's navigator: A sidebar, which has controls (sliding bars) that alter (to your preferred degree, from very fine changes, to very big changes) the parameters of each of the formulae you are using. I've only used this once so far (The Angry Child Buddha pic) and can't wait to use it more. I'll feature it in a new Tutorial page soon, along with a few more features I haven't yet explored.

That's it for this post =)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mandelbulb 3D Tutorial: The 'DE combinate' button

Right! Back again for another tutorial page. I'm much more experienced now with Mandelbulb 3D, and have thought that I should do a revision of much of what I've already posted, but as that's not terribly exciting, and  as I feel like doing something exciting, I'm going to try out the DE Combinate feature of the formula box.

I learnt about this from two of my favourite 3D fractal artists, Mandelwerk and Bib, through the following works of theirs (and more):

Claustrophobia by Infinite Rooms by Mandelwerk

Two Worlds by bib993

So when I saw these amazing images, of course the first thing I wondered was 'How did they do it?' ... And the answer is DE Combinate. As of right now though, I haven't tried using it yet. I like to keep my first time experiments for when I'm in blogging mode, so that you all learn with me as I go.

My intention is first to try and copy Mandelwerk's "Claustrophobia by Infinite Rooms" and Bib's "Two Worlds" and explain how I did it. Then I'll alter one of them, to test out DE Com features...

Let's go!

Alrighty... The first part was easy. Simply select the DE Combinate button in the formula window (default button is 'Alternate' (as seen above)), and then choose "MengerIFS" as your first formula, and "Integer Power" as your second formula. Click on Calculate 3D and this is what you get:

Next step, use the navigator to face the side of the cube:

Now it's just a question of colour, I think =) .. And, the sides are curved, and Mandelwerk's original has very straight lines... Will try figure it out now.


Ok, so after an annoying amount of time trying to get his exact colouring, I've given up =P ... But I figured out the curved edges. In the main window, there's a tab called 'Camera' ... I tried clicking the 'Rectilinear Lense' and that did the trick =) ... Then it's just a matter of fine tuning in the navigator and voila:

My attempt at duplicating Mandelwerk's version.

Next, Bib's very intimidating 'Two Worlds' as seen above.

Let me load the two formulae mentioned in the comments and see what I get...
Uhm... Ok so nevermind that... =P ... I even asked him for some hints, and he gave me the four formulae he used, but no matter how I tweak the parameters, I can't figure out how he did it =P ... I'm thinking some background in advanced maths may be necessary...

So now, on to some experimentation! I'll use my version of Mandelwerk's Claustrophobia. ... First things first, when you choose DE Combinate in the formulae box, at the bottom of the first formula, this appears:

Just to see what happens, I chose the next option 'Ma' and rendered. As Jesse's little description popup-box says ... "only overlapping parts" .. of the two formulae, that is =) ... After repositioning (zoomed out and rotated) and some minor colour changes, this is what it looks like:

Next, I tried the 'Av' option, and got this (Note, it took much longer to render with this option.) :

Here's a close-up, just to see:

The option 'S1' looks like this:

Then I changed the "Ds" value that appears if you choose 'S1' ... It is 0.5 by default. I tried 0.2 and got this:

Then I zoomed into the center there and did a few colour changes to get this:


And with Ds.= -0.5 :

The option S2 you can check out for yourself... Not much different to S1 but remember that with different formulae, or even just with simple parameter tweaks, results can change drastically.

That completes the DE Combinate tutorial ... Next, I'm hoping to cover that post-process tab ;)

If my tutorial is helping you, please consider supporting me over at my Patreon page.
I also have a deviantArt gallery.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I was recently introduced to the artist Escher. His work is amazing... And why am I posting about it here? Well, have a look for yourself:

Double Planetoid by Escher

Gravity by Escher

Stars by Escher

Metamorphosis II by Escher (Click on below link to view full size)

So there you go =) ... They are sooo very fractal. The first three especially remind me of this work by Mandelwerk, using DE Combinate in Mandelbulb 3D:

"Arachnophobia by icosahedral spider leg caging" by Mandelwerk

For more works by Escher... Uhm, too lazy to go get a link. Just google him ;P ... Not going to promise more frequent posts from now on, but, well, there's hope... =)