Sunday, September 20, 2009

Little & fiddly as eXtreme sport

I've spent the last couple of days looking at the incredibly detailed images made by Dan Wills, and trying (with only minimal success) to make some similar ones of my own. I haven't really done much exploring of the inside areas of fractals before now, and I'm finding them both fascinating and frustrating.

So far, I've had the best luck with the PhoenixDoubleNova formula. When the inside is colored with exponential smoothing, it makes a mass of gritty particles, in which can be distinguished vague mandelbrot-ish shapes and other color zoning. Adjusting the maximum iterations seems to change how much shape is visible through the speckly stuff. Trying to zoom in on interesting shapes is a little like blundering around in a sandstorm.

Like so.

Which would be no fun at all, except that when the fractal is rendered and anti-aliased, an amazing amount of tiny detail appears. Any fractal has an infinite amount of detail, of course, because that's what makes it a fractal. But with these nova-style inside images, the mind-bending infinitude is really there, present in a way that I find very compelling.

Even after anti-aliasing, enough texture remains that the pictures seem a little like grainy photographs—they don't have that perfectly-clean smoothness that many computer-generated things have. And every one of those little specks of color-shift is another infinite stack of interlocking spirals, all in perfect array.


This is a kind of thing I'd love to see printed big (BIG! Four or five or ten feet across kind of big), because its visual effect would change drastically when it was viewed at various distances. From far away, you'd get the overall effect of the colors and shapes in the composition, from medium-far it would be textured and complex, and from right up close your entire field of view would be full of tiny repeating shapes that reflected the larger whole. A perfect illustration of what fractals are all about.


Sandra Reid said...

I have come back and looked at this several times as the detail that has emerged is quite amazing. Who would have guessed that all the beautiful spiral detail was lurking beneath all the 'fuzz'?

Dan Wills said...

I am so happy that I helped inspire you to do some explorations to uncover super detail :)

It's gorgeous! well done MrV.