! How are you today?
I'm doing pretty well! The smell of fresh coffee is invading my apartment, which is a wonderful tool to combat the cooler temperatures we've been having in the mornings recently.
Can you introduce yourself?
Hi everyone, I'm your friendly neighborhood ChaosFissure! I was bitten by a radioactive bug in fractal software, which has given me the ability for me to make digital artwork while hanging upside down on walls.
...hmm? I have to be serious? Aww....
Hello, everyone! My name is Sam, but I often go by the username "Chaosfissure." By day, I'm just a software developer. In my spare time, I pursue my inexplicable love for digital art, particularly by creating abstract fractals, which has turned into something more serious and far-reaching than I ever imagined possible. While my artwork is often chaotic, I enjoy exploring how I can balance chaos (fuzziness, energy, and a lack of rigid structure) and order (texture, shape, and unified structure) in what I create.
How did you discover Fractal Art?
In my very early days on DeviantArt, I originally created abstract, 3D artwork. When I was browsing the front page of DeviantArt, I saw a piece of abstract geometry with interesting colors and shapes, and asked the artist how they made it. I was told that it was a fractal created with Apophysis, and was directed to the resources they used to create it. Although I had previously, and unsuccessfully, tried to use this program, I decided to give it another shot. I also decided to participate in one of the chatrroms that focused on fractal artwork (#Aposhack), and still find it useful to this day. Ever since then, I've been making fractals.
Your style is unique and recognizable from afar. Can you explain how you "decided" to walk this path?
Thanks to the powers that be, I did not quit making fractals. I saw a description on a fractal stating that "you can make cool fractals from [the most basic stuff]," and decided to give one final attempt at fractals. This was unintentionally the best advice I ever received: making artwork from scratch and limiting myself to the most basic components allowed me to explore and learn how parts of fractals interact with each other. More importantly, exploring fractals this way gave me thrills of discovery each time I created wild shapes, textures, and even scenes! From that point forward, I knew I loved what I was doing, and found myself able to inject my own mind into my artwork. Today, I feel that I'm able to to express energy, concepts, and emotions in a very visceral way, and the ability to do this fuels my motivation to make artwork and explore as much as I can.
It would be wonderful if you could reveal a few details of your creation process.
For those familiar with Apophysis, I find the small preview on the editor window the most important part of making fractals -- it is where I squint my eyes and look at how patterns and shapes emerge during my intital creation phase. I do not care how the transforms look in the editor, and only use it to sync my mouse on a transform so I can manipulate its shape or position.
Most of my artwork follows a "four-step" process, though I may go back and forth between steps. This is typically how I create fractals:
Phase 1: The Base
Phase 2: Identity
- I create a base in Apophysis - a set of transforms that has some structure and shape to it.
- I try to mutate this base to see what it can accomplish, trying to make it form interesting shapes, patterns, or spots of density.
- With the interesting bases I have found, I will add additional transforms to further add body to them, spreading them out and adding more shape to them.
- If a base seems like it isn't going anywhere, I'll go back to a point where I still think it can do something. While this isn't something I can easily convey, it comes from working with thousands of fractal bases.
- I also save the bases I'm working on whenever I think I hit a part where I can branch off. That way, I can always return to it later on and do something else that might be even cooler with it!
- I don't create bases that are chaotic. I try to create bases that converge on patterns and discernable shapes, and use additional transforms to add the "chaos" to the initial base.
Phase 3: Detailing
- From the sets of bases I have created in the previous step, I will begin testing color schemes to see what patterns and shapes emerge from the grayscale fractal I originally was working on.
- I typically move from Apophysis to Chaotica at this point, as Chaotica allows me to sample color spreads, depth, brightness, and blurs more easily than Apophysis. There can be artifacts in fractals that do not manifest visibly in low density, but can greatly disrupt the flow in a fully rendered image, and removing them early on is beneficial.
- The shapes that emerge from the color distributions often give me some "vibes" on what the fractal can become. I'll refine the colors I use, and possibly create a new set of colors to fit a potential direction it is going in.
- If it seems like there's not enough "body" in the shapes I have, I will try adding more "structural" iterators. If this doesn't work, I reject this fractal and try another base that I have worked on.
- I will export the same fractal with different gradients into Chaotica until I find a suitable set of colors. I always can inject another gradient into a saved Chaotica file later on if I need to change the color scheme at a later stage.
- I rely on Apophysis and UF gradients for coloring schemes, as Chaotica's Palettes do not not offer me enough flexibility to create sufficiently complex color schemes.
Phase 4: The Evil that is Framing
- Once I have a set of colors down and a sense of what I want to do with the fractal, I'll begin adding details and trying to solidify what I want to do.
- If I feel like this could use blur from depth, I try to isolate iterators that offer the most unobtrusive blur -- those that keep a good portion of the major structural elements in reasonable focus without blurring the rest of the fractal.
- If I feel like it could use some dots, speckles, or stars, I'll create an empty iterator and set it at a low weight. I'll use a blur (gaussian) as a post transformation for glowy dots, or leave it empty if I want grain.
- I'll rotate and move around existing transforms so that they fill in dead space, and change how they are skewed if I want them to fill in a space differently.
- If there's still too much dead space, I'll try adding and repositioning low weight iterators with linear, or other variations to add some texture and shape.
- If the fractal just doesn't want to play nice, I'll let it be for a day and try something different.
- Fitting a fractal into a rectangle isn't easy. Not for me, at least! I sometimes go insane and super OCD over framing, and end up stalling for days trying to present a fractal in an interesting way.
- If I feel like nothing is improving with framing, I'll let it rest for the evening and try again tomorrow. That way, I'll be able to tackle it with a clear mind.
- Final transforms are a lifesaver -- they can take what you've worked on and pack it in a different way. I often use Curl, because it acts as Linear when all parameters are 0, but introduces curves when you start changing them.
- Curves in a final transform allow the fractal to be packed differently, thus making it easier to frame than using no final transform, or using one to force symmetry upon a fractal. I try to avoid pure symmetry in the final aesthetic, as it often takes focus away from the interesting structural elements that I wish to present.
- From here, I spend a lot of time rotating the fractal, zooming out and back in, and trying to figure out the best way to fit it into an arbitrary frame size.
- Although I really don't know what I'm trying to accomplish when framing, I typically know what elements that I want to frame, and shift them around in a way that might look interesting. I try to find a space off center (i.e. rule of thirds-ish) for the main "focal point" of the fractal to rest, and have the details spread out along the body of the fractal in a way that doesn't leave obvious dead space in corners or sections of the fractal. This isn't always usually trivial.
- I'll go back to phase 3 if I have an interesting framing with the shapes I have, but need to adjust the elements to deal with dead space.
- I often ask for advice on framing once I have a few options. I typically bug a few people who hang out in #Aposhack for opinions, but wish that there'd be an easier way to get constructive criticism in real time from more people.
- After this, I render the fractal out, typically using high Antialiasing with custom filter settings inside of Chaotica. If you're using Chaotica and not using at least AA2 (preferably 3!), you're missing out on a lot more clarity, sharpness, and details in your fractal.
Is there any deviant you would recommend, and why?
If I stick to fractals and limit my selection to one person, I'd say that you should check out mmastriani's stuff. He makes these wonderful, abstract, and textural fractals that deserve more attention, in my opinion.
7) Any last advice to your audience?
As an artist, you should have something that you love - something that drives you to keep creating artwork. Find something you love doing, and make it integral to what you create. Rather than worrying about what you're doing, or trying to know if something is "good enough," have fun exploring what you like, and look for ways to combine what you know with skills that you would like to learn about. Art can surprise you when you're exploring, and even if you don't find anything new, you can still enjoy what you've already uncovered!