Create spectacularly psychedelic art with Fractal Zoomer

According to Wikipedia, a fractal is "a mathematical set that has a fractal dimension that usually exceeds its topological dimension", and that doesn’t exactly sound like an ideal starting point for a fun application, accessible to all.

Fortunately you don’t have to understand the math to have plenty of fun with fractals. It’s enough to know that they’re a great way to generate colorful abstract art, and if you’ve a copy of Fractal Zoomer (and a little time to spare) then getting started is very easy indeed.

The program is compact and portable (well, sort of -- you’ll need Java), so you can just download it and go. The software opens with the standard Mandelbrot set, and all you have to do is repeatedly click at any point which seems interesting; your view will zoom in, and more and more interesting patterns will emerge.

You might be familiar with this idea from other fractal software, but this program has plenty of extras. You can tweak the current image, for instance (Options > Rotate), apply a Sharpen filter (Filters > Sharpness), even repeatedly cycle its colors for a ripple effect (Tools > Color Cycling).

You’re not restricted to the standard Mandelbrot view, either -- there are many other possibilities. Click Options > Fractal Functions, choose an alternative starting point, and you can zoom in and move around as usual.

Some of the tweaks available may seem a little obscure, particularly if you don’t understand the core math. Would you know exactly what selecting Options > Planes > 1/ (mu – 2) would do, for instance? Don’t let any of that put you off, though -- these are all just about providing different views of the current image. Try a few, see what happens.

If you locate a particularly interesting area of the fractal world then clicking File > Save As will save your current position for easy recall later.

Or, if you just want to save the current image, click File > Save Image As to record it for posterity.

If there’s a small problem here, it’s performance. The more you zoom in, the slower some functions become, and this can leave the program unresponsive for a few seconds.

On balance, though, Fractal Zoomer is a great tool, simple enough for fractal beginners, but with enough features and functionality to keep old hands entertained.

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