Apophysis is a free fractal flame editor, generator, and renderer for windows. Many artists use it as a source of images to create artwork, typically by loading many "flames" (or fractal images) into Photoshop to form a more complex piece (but freeware users could use GIMP instead of Photoshop). The program produces self-similar mathematical images, making "flames" an extension of IFS (iterated function system) fractals. Fractal software allows you to become a digital artist without any experience in traditional art, but to create something that you would call "art" requires you to practice and experiment with the features of programs like Apophysis. Patience helps too.
At first glance it creates a batch of 100 or so random flames. These usually don't look very artistic. If you just use the program features to improve the initial flames, then you may feel like it could take an eternity to produce anything you would like, or that anyone else would like. But the program wouldn't be used by so many artists if it didn't require artistry.
To create useful flames you will need to search online for Apophysis scripts (these are custom algorithms that manipulate flames for you) and perhaps plugins. Apophysis comes with a few basic scripts, but you can find ones that produce a more diverse range of flames. You add them to the script folder, run them with F9, and watch a preview of whether they improve a particular flame.
The program has many helpful features that allow you to experiment with any interesting flames you see (first you can save the parameters of impressive flames in case any of your editing turns the flame into some monstrous chimera or scatter of noise):
- Click on the toolbar "Editor" to move triangles around -- drag them, add them, delete them, etc. -- just with your mouse. A working preview lets you see whether your actions improve the flame.
- View "Mutations" to see whether a flame has interesting possibilities. You can also create random "Variations" of a flame.
- Make minor adjustments by clicking and dragging a flame, perhaps centering it or investigating parts of the flame that run off the screen. The program re-renders the flame once you drop it with your mouse.
- "Options" has many kinds of variations (linear, spherical, etc.) and parameters (or UPR values) to adjust flame settings.
- A "Gradient" window has many color presets and basic editing features.
Apophysis allows you to render a flame directly to the disk as a JPEG, PNG, or BMP image (at most wallpaper sizes), but flames probably work better when combined with other flames to form a more complex image (perhaps put together in GIMP).
It's difficult to emphasize enough that flames have great creative potential. Some of my favorite Apophysis artists produce beautiful nebulas or alien worlds. Flames seem useful for abstract artwork (most of the examples at Wikipedia fit into this category), but fractal based space images can look as good as photos from Hubble (see examples below).
Finally, a noteworthy way of generating animated flames is with the collaborative Electric Sheep screensaver. It uses distributed computing methods to allow all connected users to vote for their favorite animated flames (or animated "sheep", an homage to Philip K. Dick's novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep") and contribute to the mutation or evolution of the "flock" of flames. You can also design your own sheep and add them to the "gene" pool.
Apophysis Examples: Beautiful Wallpapers
- Apophysis 2.09
- Apophysis 2.08 3D Hack
- Apophysis 2.02
- Electric Sheep (for Windows, Mac, or Linux)
- Resources (flame scripts, plugins, tutorials)