The Apophysis Conspiracy

Chinese red

When I joined Flickr in 2007, I thought that the photo-sharing website was only for photographs. But I found that it inclued thriving communities of people making other kinds of images, and among these, a good number of fractalists. The fractals were interesting, some of them breathtakingly complex and beautiful, but most of them did not make me want to have a go for myself.

And then I saw some pictures that were different. I discovered that the program used to generate them was called Apophysis. I learnt that it was possible to use it without either a very powerful computer or very much mathematical knowledge. Most of all, something about the look of Apophysis fractal pictures was ‘me-like’: friendly, urging me to come out and play with them. I still don’t know quite what it is about Apophysis that attracts me, but it was love at first sight.

A touch of magic

Apophysis is a fractal flame generator. This makes a particular family of fractals images, some of which do resemble the pictures one sees in flames or veils of smoke. You can download the program from – where you will also find links to experimental and alternative versions on Sourceforge, links to tutorials and other useful resources. Oh, and it’s free. (It’s purely a Windows program. There is a fairly similar fractal flame program available for Macs. It is called Oxidizer and is also on Sourceforge.)

A winter's night

Some people approach fractal art in a very top-down, organised way, telling the computer exactly what to create and remaining very much in control of the design process throughout. What I particularly like about Apophysis is the way it allows me to work alongside it. We collaborate. The program takes a random starting image and offers me a batch of mutations and variations on it. I select from them, and it offers further variation until I come across an image that I want to use.

Come to distances

It’s not purely selective breeding. I can limit the available options, make alterations and adjustments, and run subprogram scripts to change the picture. After I have the rendered image, I can add further processing in an art program, to bring out what attracted me to that image. But however much of my own creative input I add to the final result, my best work feels like a productive conspiracy between myself and Apophysis: the love affair of two years ago turned into a very fruitful marriage.

We have several thousand children so far.

Life goes on


11 Responses to “The Apophysis Conspiracy”

  1. They are very beautiful Sue – and you’re very good at creating them.

  2. I do like your fractal images. There’s something almost organic about many of them. You have a real knack for generating and selecting very evocative pictures.

    The top one, for example, reminds me of a gorgeous gold and scarlet embroidered fabric while the circular one reminds me of some of the patterns seen in bone under the microscope.

  3. Manny Lorenzo Says:


    Great blog entry. I especially love A Winter’s Night. The only thing that’s kept me from trying Apophysis is that I find many of the works to be derivative or looking the same. I guess I should give it or Oxidizer a try.



  4. suetortoise Says:

    It’s not always easy to find something different, Manny. And it gets harder the more you make! Your style seems very well suited to the programs you already use. But it would be interesting to see what you make of Apo.

  5. pppepppe Says:

    I use Apophysis in a very experimental way too. Then I manipulated the rendered image e.g. with Photoshop. You have wonderful works on your site and a good feeling for composition.

  6. suetortoise Says:

    Thanks, Pppepppe, I do enjoy making these pictures. Experimenting is half of the fun.

  7. Hi Sue
    I love your fractals and would like your permission to use a winters night Inside this artwork I created.

    It would be viewed through a kaleidoscope with back light from a blown glass orb which is truly amazing to see. I would be glad to hear any conditions or fee for its use


    • suetortoise Says:

      Thanks, Phil. I’m glad you like my work. You have my permission to use my picture ‘A Winter’s Night’ as described above. Please provide a link to the picture on Flickr, to keep Flickr happy. If you would also credit me, Sue Jones, and you’ll keep me happy too.

      Your sculptural work is very attractive.

      • Thankyou so much Sue your a gem! All of these fractals are exceptionally beautiful. i Will do as requested and if you have a high res image that would be best , also If you could e mail your postal address I will send you a little something to make it worth your while thanks again

        Ps i don’t suppose you also produced a fractal (or know who did) titled “walk out into winter” many years ago?

  8. suetortoise Says:

    I’m sorry I don’t know the fractal ‘Walk out into Winter’ – not mine, anyway. I assume you’ve tried searching Flickr and Google? I’ll send an email to your hotmail address about file size, etc.

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