A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set, that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. The latter can be generated by a computer program, calculating a simple equation over and over.
Mandelbulb 3D (MB3D) is a free software application created for 3D fractal imaging. Developed by Jesse and a group of Fractal Forums contributors, based on Daniel White and Paul Nylander’s Mandelbulb work, MB3D formulates dozens of nonlinear equations into an amazing range of fractal objects. The 3D rendering environment includes lighting, color, specularity, depth-of-field, shadow- and glow- effects; allowing the user fine control over the imaging effects.
MB3D has a devoted following of users worldwide, with on-line communities on Deviant Art and Facebook, where artists share their creations, as well as fractal formulas and software tips. The software is more user-friendly than most 3D fractal applications, and a number of tutorials are available on line.
With Pixelmator, an image editor, I often combine the beauty from MB3D fractal images and the images of natural objects and subjects. Adding a real element to a fractal is a technique that gives the viewer a non-fractal element to visually latch on to. It instantly grounds the fractal image in the familiar and usually gives the viewer a sense of scale. The fractal image isn’t just a cool, geometric pattern or abstract, it contains a recognizable element.