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February 11, 2010

SuperFractolisticExplicatoris -- or,


"How to create fractals that sell!"

by Hospitalera

Introduction: I am using mostly Apophysis to create fractals for stock, but the tips and tricks here may be applied to other programs. Fractal programs (often called "generator" rather then programs are often free, just do a Google on it! After you have chosen your program, downloaded and installed it – Let the fun begin!

BTW, it's also helpful to read the manual/ help file/tutorial that comes with your chosen program. ;-)

And yes, you can sell fractals as stock because you have altered the original formula and therefore created original art...

Doodle over white: You can get easily carried away by just trying out things and discovering all the beautiful pictures, but sooner rather then later you should get into the habit of creating over white (you can always change it!).


If you use another background colour, part of the fractal may blend into the background and get lost. That means you can't see what you're actually working with.

Another reason is that some programs may create the fractal equivalent of digital noise (more about this later) and that is easier detected when your background is a pure white.

And third, designers love "over white", it allows them to cut out the fractal and paste it into their own design or to underlay it with an, for them, appropriate background.

Apophysis allows you to change background colour and gradient as often as you wish during the pre-render phase, so just try and doodle and look what you get. After you've made yourself a little bit more familiar with your program, you may want to create things that are a little bit more intentional rather then working by accident... But some great fractals have been discovered "by accident"; so don't give up doodling completely!

Don't forget to save the fractal parameters of the ones you like!!! These are tiny scripts, often of only a few KB, that contain all information necessary to re-create a specific fractal. They are your "raw files" but much, much smaller.

Don't lose them, keep them in a separate folder and back them up from time to time!

  Red Liturgical Cross
What to create: Apophysis has a very useful preset that creates a heart shaped cut out and several settings that allow you to create crosses.

Valentine and Mothers Day are near and good religious illustrations are always heavily sought after.

For example these two images: The top one belongs to a series I called "Modern liturgical crosses" and the applied colors are related to the colors used in the different seasons in the church year. (There are advantages in being a so-called Vicars' wife ;-)

These uses are also in the keywords and they sell very well because the buyer gets the exact information that s/he can use it for. Uses for heart fractals include concepts like "love/romance" and holidays like "Mothers Day".

One of my most sold fractals is this on the right hand side: At the first glance it appears rather boring and to tell the truth I hesitated in submitting it... I'm very glad that I did it! This fractal shows one important use for fractal images as backgrounds and/or design element.

Use of color: Most generators allow you to color the fractal the way you like it.

But which color to choose? First make sure that the colors match with the fractal and the (possible) use!

Choose for example vivid red tones for love and more pastel-like tones for "Mothers Day". Learn to know which colors are at the moment "flavor of the month" for example by reading this excellent article at FeaturePics...

Or Google, yes, again! for "best web colour/color" or "colour/color of the year"

Try to imagine how the fractal could be used and which color would be best to support this use. If you want to play safe you may even consider using only web safe colors.

Your choice! And don't (over)use the preset gradients, create your own.

Test image: So, by now you should have found a fractal that you would like to render to a sellable size.

But before you do this I strongly recommend to render a small test image, especially if you use Apophysis with its very long render times.

This test image, I use normally something like 640x480, allows you to check the finished image and see if it is what you have imagined in the preview mode.

Check if you need to make any adjustments for quality (see your programmes' help file for this) or if all is fine.

Have also a look how your fractal appears in thumbnail size! This is the first impression a buyer will get when s/he does a search. Does your fractal give enough impact in small size? Then check for:

Noise! The first time I got an Apophysis (flame) fractal rejected because of noise I thought the reviewer was –let's say- dense?

It took me a while to discover that s/he was referring with the term "noise" to stray pixels (pixels that are not connected to others and show up like grain/ artifacts or pixels that have another color then their surroundings and show up like digital noise.

There are several ways to handle noise in an image, first of all: Try to avoid it! In Apophysis you have the possibility to adjust the gamma setting, by default. If it is at 4, try lowering it without that the fractal appears to bland and loses detail (some problem as in digital images - N'est-ce pas?)

If you still get "noise" try one of the following methods (with the rendered image obviously ;-):
  • A quick fix, especially for backgrounds, in Photoshop or similar programmes, would be to apply a blur filter of 0.5px to the image. You can repeat it several times until you like the result. Be careful not to overdo it!
  • Or you may consider using a noise removal programme like Neatimage for more complicated fractals.
  • With isolated (over white) fractals always check the background with the magic wand and threshold to 0 and erase then any stray pixels to clean up.

  • Keywording a fractal requires creativity and self restraint at the same time!

    Always ask yourself if a buyer would type in one of your keywords and finds the image you’re key wording: Would s/he be annoyed or glad to see this particular image?

    Think of: What is in the image, what colours, what mood and/ or possible uses has the image and so on. Don’t forget stock is an international business and buyers come from different countries, each of them convinced that their form of English is correct. Have a look at this for an eye-opener.

    So here ends my little introduction in fractals and stock, please feel free to pm me via the forum if you have any further questions.

    About the Author
    "I am still using Canon film cameras and Fuji films.
    Simply because I can't afford a DSLR which delivers the same picture quality!!!

    My preferred photo subjects are animals, flowers (especially macros), landscapes and food. Apart of slides (mostly Velvia) I shoot also in black and white.

    I use photo editing programs mainly to make minor adjustments, but being a big fan of fractal art I use my computers to render high res fractal images like my avatar.

    I prefer stockphotography instead of assigments because it takes a lot of pressure away, but it also requires a lot of self discipline if you want to be successful.

    I can render fractals to specifications, so if you want to illustrate a special project, contact me via FP or via My Website"

    More Hospitalera's Images from Beautiful Fractals Collection
    Rose Heart Over Black fractal Fractal Star Clown Heart fractal high res flame fractal forming a golden swirl

    More Images from Hospitalera's portfolio
    Picture of River Palencia photo of Clematis Photograph of Before The Storm English pub
    Pamplona Cathedral part of gothic cloister, Pamplona, Spain, Europe Old building reflected in new building
The romanic chapel of Santa Maria de Eunate

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