The Light and Shade of Computerspace

Mood: Happy – just found a half-eaten Mars Bar on my desk
Listening to: ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean

After visiting Planet Zog on business, I seem to go through a severe backlash, disappearing off to Planet Diddums to play. It was so quiet up here that Mum appeared in the doorway looking disgruntled, and said “I thought you’d died.”

I was exploring fractals. I’ve already tried Tierazon, Fractality, Xaos, Chaoscope and Fractal Explorer with varying degrees of success. Now I’m sucked deep into the vortex of Apophysis v. 2.06. beta.

No wonder I feel giddy.

Giddy Apophysis

Giddy Apophysis

Fractal liberated and prettied up by Diddums
using a Paintshop Pro gradient applied in Apophysis
and two Photoshop gradients in the background.

The thing starts up with 100 random fractals (randomly generated, not randomly chosen from a library). I didn’t get the distinction at first; I thought they were samples of other people’s artwork, though some seemed pretty spartan… I assumed they were there to display what different effects and shapes could be achieved. When I discovered from some tutorials that they were untouched by human hand, I was both awestruck and horrified. I feel it’s my duty to go through each of those one hundred fractals to make sure I don’t lose a beauty from the world. It also causes me to think, uneasily, that every minute not spent checking lists of random fractals is a minute wasted.

On the other hand, every one I save is a bonus – if I had never tried Apophysis, all those fractals squirrelled away into my hard drive might never have appeared to mortal eye. Is this why I was born??

Then I spent ages collecting, creating and organizing gradients. A long while ago I was delighted to discover that Paintshop Pro gradients could be used in Photoshop Elements, some of them based on favourite gradients I created in ClarisWorks, way, way back in the mists of time. I probably used the eyedropper tool to save those ancient shades – it’s the best invention since sliced bread.

Now I find I can use all those gradients in Apophysis, though through a rather laborious process. In fact I can use photos and pictures to generate brand new gradients in Apop. This sounded such fun I trotted off and opened up lots of my pictures for Apop to chew over. My bears, fractals, books, even a screenshot of my blog… everything was grist for its mill.

This went on for a number of days, and then I made a discovery that stopped me in my tracks. ALL those gradients were automatically saved into a file called smooth.ugr – not just the ones I saved myself into a file of my own. So now I had one file full of hundreds of gradients, both wanted and unwanted, and another file containing many duplicates.

Most of you would think “fine, I’ve got the gradients I want” and delete one file or the other, but my brain doesn’t work like that… I’m the one who feels obliged to rescue all the poor little fractals, and now I had these unique gradients clamouring for a good home. I couldn’t recreate any of them – if I opened the same picture again to be processed, the results were somehow different – I accidentally overwrote a few nice gradients because I didn’t realize that.

Then I realized something else – and a frisson of horror tingled down my spine. If I were to accidentally process a picture I’d already processed weeks or months before, I might be destroying a favourite gradient, possibly even affecting the saved parameters of completed fractals. I might be wrong about this, but anything seemed possible all of a sudden. The only way to be sure of avoiding that was to save them myself as I had been doing – with different names to a different file. While I was at it, they should be organized into separate files with names such as didsphotos.ugr, didsabstracts.ugr, didsscreenshots.ugr, didsPSPgradients.ugr etc. Just so I could search the gradients by source and not overstretch any one file. In other words, don’t put all your colour schemes in one basket.

It sounds a quick and simple process; normally you drag and drop the files into organized folders, but Apop gradients do not work like that. As far as I know at this stage, the only way to get one gradient into another file is to save a copy into the new file and then delete the original gradient from the old one. Or maybe duplicate the files many times over and…

Anyway, that’s why Mum thought I’d fallen off my perch. I was saving millions of computer pixels from eternal oblivion.

Comments for this entry (during its previous life on Blogigo):

1. Pacian wrote at Oct 10, 2007 at 14:32: Pixels have feelings too, hidden deep in their RGB values.

2. geosomin wrote at Oct 10, 2007 at 16:11: Their little CMYK hearts will thank you for it…

A friend of mine used mathematical fractals to design leafy floral patterns for a mural…I’m constantly amazed at the endless variety of them all. It’s why I haven’t delved too deep into the fractal graphic design…being a lab rat I get too little suna s it is! I do love listening to music while staring at my fractal music generator tho…

3. Diddums wrote at Oct 11, 2007 at 01:17: Fractals (and pixels with feelings) are definitely morish. :-). I used to have one of those – a fractal generator. Not sure what happened to it. I think it was on the PC but the Mac plays all the good music now.

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