Have I left something out?

Parameter Files    File Saving Options
Anti-Aliasing    Image Rotation

Here is where I will attempt to explain all the leftover bits and pieces that weren't part of the previous tutorials. The technical aspects of file saving formats is not really my area of expertise, but I will tell you how I use these Sterlingware options and that should be of some benefit.

P a r a m e t e r   F i l e s

If you click on the "File" menu you will see the option "Load from Parameter File". A Sterlingware parameter file has the file extension ".loo" and contains all the information necessary to reproduce any image in the fractal window. This includes not just the menu settings but even the exact place which you zoomed to when you saved the image.

Theoretically, you could actually save your fractal images as parameter files and use the program to view them instead of saving them as an image file like bmp or jpg. In fact, parameter files are actually the best way to exchange fractals since they recreate the fractal perfectly and are only about 300 bytes. That's 0.3k! However, many fractal images have had additional processing in graphics programs and in those cases the parameter files would not produce the final image.

One piece of information not saved in a parameter file is the XY size. When you open a parameter file it will display the image in the default dimensions of 160x120 unless the XY size dialog box is open and has different dimensions entered.

To create a parameter file you need only to save your fractal image in any of the supported file formats such as "awesome.bmp" or "awesome.jpg" and the parameter file "awesome.loo" will automatically be written with it. In fact, if you don't want to create a parameter file every time you save a fractal, you'll have to delete it afterwards as parameter file writing is automatic and can't be switched-off.

Parameter files can also be used to save special menu settings or color settings for further experimenting. By saving a particularly nice color dialog setting or Julia Mode image (which would be hard to recreate from scratch) you can go back and work with the image again. In this way its like the "save" option on computer games which allows you to come back and complete something without having to start all over again.

F i l e   S a v i n g   O p t i o n s

Another unmentioned option on the File menu is "Options". This contains the file saving options for all the supported image file formats. I have never used any of them except for jpg and bmp. Bmp has no options to set and the jpg settings are really only a matter of "Quality (0...100)". The higher the quality value the more the image will resemble the original image in the fractal window. However, the higher the value the larger the filesize.

A bmp will save your fractal perfectly but will be about 57kb for a 160x120 pixel image. This is not useful for displaying on a webpage but is a good choice if you are going to "post-process" your fractal in a graphics program and don't want to loose any detail. Then after processing, you can save it as a jpg, png or gif for display in your online gallery. There are no options for the bmp format.

I mostly save as jpgs and I use a Quality setting of 80. Sometimes I will go up to 90 or 95 if the resulting file is not too large (less than 10kb at 160x120 pixels). Below 75 you will almost always start to see a significant loss of image quality. The small file size will be good, but it won't matter much because the image will look bad.

There are some options for Writing and Reading jpgs. My graphics program, the GIMP tells me that Floating point is better quality but slower and Integer is faster but lower quality. I have never had a reason to load (read) a jpg file. I think it is included because it is part of the standard jpg file parameters even though you will probably never use it.

The rest of the file formats I've never used. Gamma? Its some color correction thing. Here's some expert advice: When in doubt, take the defaults.

A n t i   -   A l i a s i n g

Here's another technically challenging option, Anti-Aliasing. You will find this in the "Image" menu. As I understand it, it takes 2, 3 or 4 points in your fractal and renders them as one point which is an average of the rest. This creates a new image which is one-half, one-third or one-quarter of the original size but contains more detail than a non-anti-aliased image of the same final size. Theoretically, the new image also looks better when saved as a jpg since the transitions from pixel to pixel in the image are more gradual which is the type of image the jpg compression algorithm works best with. Since anti-aliasing "concentrates" your fractal, 2:1, 3:1 or 4:1, you have to start with an image which is twice, three-times or four-times the size of your final, anti-aliased image.

I don't use this very much as I find most images don't need it. However, fractals generated from the sine-trap render (#14 - 17) method have many solid, curved shapes and they look jagged without anti-aliasing. Let's try an example and you can see for yourself. All the resulting images will be saved as a jpg with a Quality setting of 80 in floating-point mode. Here is our familiar formula 53, render 8 fractal at the default XY size of 160x120 pixels with no anti-aliasing:

  No anti-aliasing (5.5k)

Now, with Sterlingware set for formula 53, render 8, change the XY size to 640x480. Now, click on the image menu and select "Anti-Alias 4:1". This is what you should see:

  Anti-Alias 4:1 (4.6k)

Try it again using an initial XY size of 480x360 and choose "Anti-Alias 3:1". This is the result:

  Anti-Alias 3:1 (4.7k)

Now we will try "Anti-Alias 2:1" starting with an XY size of 320x240. Here is the result:

  Anti-Alias 2:1 (4.9k)

I m a g e   R o t a t i o n

Also on the Image menu are these options:

These are used to rotate the fractal image in 90 degree increments. The default is "Rotate 90" and for most fractals this looks the best. Here is how formula 53, render 8 looks with every rotation setting:

  Rotate 90 (default)

  Rotate 90 Mirror


  no rotation

I never use this. Maybe it's because I'm so used to seeing the images in their default settings that I find they look funny when rotated. If you do use this though, and have zoomed into the fractal when you decide to rotate it, you will have to click on "Reset Coordinates" and navigate back to where you were as the entire fractal will have moved and the point you were looking at will have a new set of coordinates. It's the same as rotating a microscope slide, if that helps.

You've now completely mastered Sterlingware, or at least know as much about it as I do.