Featured image of post Setting the World on Fire

Setting the World on Fire

This isn’t normally something I’d syndicate to planet, but it has a certain relevance to Firefox so I thought I’d make an exception here. Feel free to skip by if you want more of the usual fare.

Those of you that have been within a few meters of my laptop or desk or even delved into my website a little may have noticed that I a certain fondness for fractal images. I find them to be extremely beautiful and I’m constantly amazed at what you can generate with what is essentially some numbers and mathematical equations. I’m even more amazed that I can actually generate pieces that look pretty good (IMHO) myself so I’m always happy when others tell me that they like my work. This happened a short time ago when I was asked to create some new art work for Mozilla’s Mountain View office. Apparently my work was selected by the architect and others out of a selection of examples from me and some professional artists.

This was exciting, a chance to get my work on display and up in front of a bunch of people who I love working with no less. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted the image to look like, not too original I know but a different take on a classic. Just one problem, the sorts of fractal that I am most enamored with of late are called flame fractals and they really aren’t good for designing. You don’t so much decide what you want and just make it. I tend to end up looking through tens if not hundreds of randomly generated images, choosing one that is pleasing and then tweaking it to improve it in my eyes.

In this case I was super lucky, or maybe it was fate. I think I only pored over a few hundred samples until I had the two basic starting points I needed to eventually create this image.

This is the first flame fractal I’ve made that is a combination of two separate images which means it takes twice as long to render. The link above is to the low quality version on Flickr but I’ve just finished rendering the full version that will go off to be printed 4ft high on canvas. Thankfully I managed to use my powerful deskop core i7 machine in the office so it only took just under 2 days to render both images at full size. In keeping with the Mozilla spirit I am releasing the fractal definition files and high-res copies of the full image and the individual parts under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Be warned, some of these images are quite large. I recommend right clicking and saving them rather than trying to view them in your browser. You may even need to take care with some image viewers. Trying to use OSX’s quick look feature on them pretty much killed my machine for 20 minutes.

If you want to play around with the image and tweak the settings then I recommend Apophysis for Windows or Oxidizer for Mac. Personally I tend to tweak the images until I’m happy in the GUI editors and then use the command line flam3 tool to do the rendering, binaries are available for Windows from the website and for OSX in macports.