If you’ve ever seen fractals and their near-infinite zoom capabilities, you might as well stare at them all day long because of how interesting they can be. Not only are fractals visually entertaining, but the math behind them can solve some pretty interesting real-world problems.
Either way, it’d be great to have some fractal viewers in hand so that you can explore their unique worlds whenever you wish. Even better, there are some very good tools out there which are also free, so why waste the opportunity? Here are some great, free tools which anyone can use on any platform.
Turtle Graphics Renderer
The Turtle Graphics Renderer from L-Systems is special because it’s an online tool for generating and viewing fractals. More importantly, this tool makes good use of the new canvas element which is part of HTML5. Therefore, it increases performance by reducing the number of software layers while helping with the effort to switch the Web to HTML5.
Turtle Graphics Renderer is very flexible as it lets you change numerous aspects such as iterations, angle, constants, axoim, and up to 5 different rules. The page also includes a list of a couple different examples, where the details are automatically entered in for you for each example you click on. These examples can show you how fractals can relate to nature, as one such example resembles a tree.
Did you know you can make fractals using GIMP? Indeed you can, and pretty easily as well! Simply go to Filters – Render – Nature – IFS Fractal. In the following window, you can choose all sorts of options for your desired fractal to get exactly what you want. You can even drag around the shapes in the positioning box to the top. The downside to using GIMP is that you can’t zoom into the fractal for an long amount of time without the quality deteriorating, as the rendered fractal is still limited to the pixel parameters of the image itself. The up side to using GIMP is that it’s freely and easily available to most people.
If you’d prefer a desktop application which is entirely dedicated to showing you perfect fractals, there simply isn’t anything better than XaoS. This application, which is also available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, really offers every feature you could possibly want in a fractal viewer. You can set a very high number of iterations so you can have virtually unlimited zooming capability, you can change between different algorithms to generate your fractal, you can add image filters to your fractal, save the fractal as a high-resolution image, use an “autopilot” which automatically zooms in on the fractal’s features for you, and much more.
Of course, there are plenty of other free tools out there which are worth your time, but these three tools have their own distinct advantages. Give them all a try if you’d like, as I’m sure at least one of them will work for you. If you don’t have the time to try them all, go with XaoS as it’s the most powerful one.
What’s the most interesting application of fractals you’ve seen? Is there a website or program which you think should have been included? Let us know in the comments!
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