I walked with Ditko

This is not actually a fractal at all, although it looks like it. It is in fact a drawing from an issue of the comic book Strange Tales from way back in the early 60s, illustrated by my favorite comic book artist Steve Ditko.

Download parameter file islet.xpf

Steve Ditko and Stan Lee invented Spiderman and Steve illustrated all the issues up to number 35 or something like that. Ditko’s stark and simple style was unusual in the comic book world were everthing is often exaggerated and overdone.

Ditko did lettering too. It had a real retro look to it even back in the retro days of the 60s.

I don’t think he was ever super popular like Jack Kirby who drew the Fantastic Four.

Alright, it is a fractal. The parameter file is a dead give-away. But this is one of the things I like about fractals in general and Xaos in particular: Although they are the expression of a mathematical formula they have the potential to be rendered in very stylish ways.

Fractal programs are very creative tools. I would never have expected that. But it shouldn’t be so surprising if you consider all the creative things that have been done with paint brushes, and I’m just thinking about simple stuff like abstract art.

This fractal uses an edge detection filter (outline thing) which creates the chalkboard or pencil crayon effect. Of course this is nothing compared to all the stuff one can do in Ultrafractal, a fractal and graphics program merged into one big mega fractal machine that I’m too cheap to buy and lazy to learn.

Anyhow, no one’s ever made any instant-Ditko with it. Maybe they don’t have my talent. Maybe some of them should check out Xaos. Maybe I should start running right now. Those fractal people can be quite excitable and …fractious.

October 15, 2005

A tale of two programs

Don’t you just hate titles like that? I haven’t even read the book.

Sterlingware excels in detail and complexity of formulas and rendering options. Xaos excels in visual effects and color. Especially color. Xaos contains the greatest algorithm ever know to civilization. This is the random pallete (color) generator.

Download parameter file feelers.xpf

Similarly, Sterlingware’s weak point or challenge is coloring. Many of the default color settings are good, but if you want to run and leap off into the unknown (it’s not just me is it?) you have to spend some time learning to adjust the color numbers.

That’s why I often alternate between programs. The weak points of one rekindle my interest in the strong points of the other.

Xaos just doesn’t have alot of formulas or rendering options. But if I can find an interesting image, the random coloring function will always produce awesome, eye-popping results from just clicking it forty or fifty times.

What is more important? Color or content?

So that’s why I have this “dual fractal citizenship” and move back and forth between these two powerful programs.

Although I downloaded Sterlingware back when it was freely available, its well worth the $25 you have to pay for it now.

October 14, 2005


I prefer to give images a name rather than a number so I can identify them more easily when just viewing the file names. I sensed something baushausy about this one.

I’ve always like the sine trap render methods especially the first one, but I found they almost all looked the same. This one was a big breakthrough for me which came about in the usual way: push all the buttons.

I lowered the iterations, stalks and bubbles radius (which usually doesn’t do anything) and used the sin()*cos() transformation. It happened over several weeks and hours of happy experimentation.

Like Bauhaus (I’m probably not even pronouncing it correctly) fractals have strong geometric components which one either loves or hates. How could anyone hate the smooth minimalist geometric bauhaus look?

Book covers. Look at all the book covers that feature bauhausish designs. They naturally lend themselves to the marriage of image with text. I’ll bet simple fractals like this one would make great poster images. Not just a background picture but forming the design of the whole poster.

October 13, 2005

Fractal photo travel blog

I know what fractal artists do with fractal programs: they make artwork. But I’m sure that for many people, their interest in fractals is just as much about exploring the mysterious images made by fractal formulas, as it is about making artwork.

This blog-thing is about my explorations of new fractal terrain in Sterlingware 1.7 and Xaos 3.1. Naturally, I’ve included images or “fractal snapshots” but I’ve also included the parameter files so people who are interested can go and visit the same places too.

I would call this a fractal “photo-travel-blog” with snapshots, anecdotes and an electronic trail of breadcrumbs -a parameter file- for the benefit of the curious or the sceptical. Feel free to post a comment if you feel you have something to add.

October 13, 2005