--Apophysis Installation and Basic Use Tutorial--
Hayo, I'm a person, and depending on what website I am on, I go by a different name. Since I am writing this primary for UKCS, I'll use my screenname there, Muffin Fox (shut up, it's a good name). Anyways, in effort to make more fractal artists in the world, I'm writing this tutorial on how to install the fractal creation program, Apophysis, as well as the basic use. Enjoy.
***Note, for the people that see this on Planet Renders, you'll notice the lack of my usual hundreds of text formatting tags. This tutorial uses only basic formatting, for maximum compatibility if I want to post it on a forum that does not allow advanced text formatting (*COUGH*UKCS*COUGH*). Sorry, but you'll live.***
Section One - Installation
Well, unless you were curious about fractals, you haven't installed Apophysis yet. The first step is to install it. Now, open up your browser of choice, and go to the following url:
Click on "Download", and select the normal Apophysis package. As a note, this program is Windows only. You want to pick Apophysis 2.08 Beta 2, and download the executable to somewhere you know you won't lose it, like your desktop. Which is where I will put it now. After the download finishes, your DT will have an icon on it like the one in the top left corner of my screen:
Congratulations, you have just installed Apophysis. No, it's not a joke, the program is an executable, and doesn't need an installation. HOWEVER, you should place the program in it's own folder, because when Apophysis starts, it creates a file of random flame parameters (you'll learn what those are later), in the directory it's started on. If you don't mind this, you can keep in on the desktop. I personally keep my versions (note the plural, there's a lot of versions of apop) in a folder on my desktop.
Side lesson - Installing Plug ins
If you start to use Apop on a regular basis, you will soon find that the default plugins of the program are not enough, and you'll want to add more. This is how you do it.
1.In the directory you keep your Apophysis exe file in, create a new folder called "plugins" (lowercase p).
2. Find plug ins. Look around the internet is your best bet for finding plug ins.
3. Download plug ins
4. Insert plug ins into "plugins" folder
5. Restart Apophysis
Section Two - Apophysis, The Basics
Now, double click on the Apophysis icon and run it. (you might get a prompt about running exe files (vista >_<), just click yes.) After a few seconds, the program will load. When Apophysis starts, it creates a batch of 100 random fractals (you can change the number of fractals to be created in the options menu). Most starter apop users will be content with using these random fractals, but we won't. (this tutorial would be really boring if we did)
Firstly, though, here is the general overview of the Apop menu:
***Note - I'm only gonna explain the basic buttons, as this is the basic tutorial***
I hope you know what Open and Save do. I really, really hope.
1. This is the menu bar ("REALLY?" Yeah.). All your menu things will be here.
2. This is the rendering button. The fractal you see on your screen is at VERY low quality, the default being 5 (my quality in my screenshots is 20, this can be changed in the options menu). Rendering the fractal is quite simply, drawing it at a higher quality, usually between 4,000 and 50,000.
3. These are the main tool you'd use to make a custom fractal. They are, from left to right: Transform Editor, Adjust, Gradient, Mutation, and Image Size. I will go into further detail about these right now.
The Transform Editor
The transform editor is the main tool you will use in making a custom fractal. It looks like this:
The buttons on the top bar are, from left to right:
New Blank Flame - This creates a blank flame, with one triangle. The triangle has a variation of linear 1 on it.
Add New Triangle - Adds a new transformation triangle to the fractal. The triangle has a variation of linear 1 on it.
Duplicate Triangle - Duplicates the currently selected triangle.
Delete Triangle - Deletes the currently selected triangle.
Undo - Undoes the last action.
Redo - Redoes an undone action.
Select Mode - When this is selected, clicking on a triangle in the workspace will select it in the side bar of the transform editor. I keep this on always, personally.
Move Triangle, Rotate Triangle, Scale Triangle - These three buttons set your mode to either move, rotate, or scale triangles in the workspace, depending on which you select. I'll say this now, you shouldn't need to use these buttons, cause manual triangle editing isn't a good idea (you'll see what I mean later in this tut)
World Pivot Mode - When unchecked, triangles rotate about their own axis, when checked, triangles rotate around point (0,0) on the workspace graph, mess around with it to see what this means.
Rotate and Flip Triangle - These four buttons either rotate or flip the triangle you have currently selected.
Show/Hide Variation Preview - When selected, this will show the effect of the applied variations on the selected triangle.
Allow Post Triangle Transformations - Post Transforms are above the level of "basic", and to be honest, I know very little about their use.
Enable Final Transformation - Not needed for a basic use.
As for the sidebar, there are 3 distinct parts, the preview window, the triangle selector, and the six control tabs. The preview window shows what your changes to the triangles does to your fractal, and the triangle selector selects the active triangle.
As for the control tabs, they are broken down into the following categories: Triangle, Transform, Colors, Variations, Variables, and Xaos. Here is what you need to know for them.
In this tab, there are a few tools, on the top, there are 6 text fields, this shows the numerical location of the selected triangle on the graph. You need not know more then that, and you won't have to edit them manually, unless you are following a tutorial that says to.
Now, the area below this is something you will use often, these are the transformation settings. The top one controls the rotation of the selected triangle. The two bent arrows can be used to flip the triangle 90 degrees to the left or right, or the curved arrows can be used to flip the triangle to the degree specified in the drop-down box. Below this are the controls for the movement of the triangle, clicking one of the four arrows will move the selected triangle on the graph the value that is in the drop-down box. Lastly, the third set of controls are used to scale the selected triangle. The button with the larger triangle scales the selected triangle, the button with the smaller triangle scales it down, both by a factor of what is selected in the drop down box.The controller on the bottom is for if you need to manually change the pivot point of which triangles rotate about. I've never needed to use this.
The 6 boxes on the top of this tab do pretty much the same thing as the triangle tab, but you enter the values of which the three points of the selected triangle differs from zero. Not useful. The reset transform button puts the triangle back to it's original position. Weight is about the only thing you will be using on this tab. It's hard to explain weight, but a good way of putting it is the more weight added, the more that the
variations on the triangle will show in the fractal then the variations on other triangles.The bottom deals with post transforms, which is beyond the basic level.
This aptly named tab controls the colors of the fractal. The transform color slider controls the color the variations on the selected triangle has in the fractal. Symmetry determines the distribution of colors in the fractal.You don't need to worry about the two check boxes, and the bottom sliders control the appearance of the variation previews, if you have them turned on.
This is where the main work will be done in fractal making, there isn't much to the tab, though. There is a list of variation (including plugins you may have downloaded), and number slots. Putting a number into the slots will add that variation to the selected triangle that variation in the amount put into the number slot. (you're really plugging in numbers into the variable of a math equation, after all) And that's the just of this tab.
The variables tab is where you change the constants in the before mentioned mathematical formulas. In most fractal tutorials, if you have to change a variable, you will be told what to change.
This tab has something to do with relative weights of the transforms, and is well beyond the basic level.
Next, we look at the remaining 4 buttons grouped together in the main screen diagram. The reason they are grouped together is, that of the five buttons there, 3 of them appear in the SAME dialog, along with a fourth option. Let's look at these four before going to the last screen of the five (mutations)
There are four tabs here. Let's go through them.
The sliders in this tab adjust what you see in the main window, the settings ore pretty self explanatory.
This tab deals with how the finished product will look. Gamma deals with light distribution, Brightness deals with general light strength. Vibrancy deals with color saturation. Background color is the color it displays on in the main window, and if you have it set to not render as transparent, how it will look in the final product. Leave gamma threshold at default unless told otherwise in a tutorial.
There's a lot on this tab, however, for the basic level, only 2 things matter. The drop-down list, and the slider. The dropdown list selects the gradient to be used in the fractal. The slider changes the range of colors used in the fractal.
You will worry about this when you render, therefore, you will never need to use this tab.
The button opens a window in which you can press buttons to randomly change your fractal, overall, too random to be of use.
Now, only one thing remains to be explained. You're done messing around with your variations, and you changed the gradient to a pretty color, but how do you get the image you see in the main window into a png, as well as in higher quality? Well, this is where the rendering window comes into play. This is what it looks like:
Now, there's a lot in this window, I'll go though the things you'll actually use. If you get a setting up of the window you like, you can save it as a preset in the top,I don't bother with this, myself.The destination is where the render will save to. I personally just save to my desktop, because I do postwork on my fractals in photoshop or GIMP, depending on what I need to do.
Size is pretty self explanatory, the size, in pixels, that the image will be when done.
Make sure "Maintain Aspect Ratio" is checked always, it should be by default, though.
Rendering has 3 options. Quality is important. The drop-down has useless values in it,
delete the value there and type your own. As you see, I use 50,000. This is overkill. At
most, you'll use 20,000. (I (try)to sell some of my fractals on Deviantart, so I render
overkill). Leave everything else default.
Now, memory. The buffer setting. I know the basics of how a computer does it's math, and if you do, great for you. That doesn't matter, though, set it to 32 bit integer and leave it alone. Now, the limit memory usage is for if you want to set a limit of how much of your RAM Apophysis uses to render. The numbers on the right side of this box shows three things. The bits per sample doesn't matter. The available memory does. This is the amount of memory you have free to render (mine is woefully low cause I'm on my laptop atm), the aprox. required is the amount you'll need to render at your settings. Now, of the bottom checkboxes, the two you should have checked are Save Parameters and Save Incomplete Fractals.
When you are content with your fractal, hit the render button, and the render will
start. THE RENDERING PROCESS TAKES A LONG TIME, LEAVE YOUR COMPUTER ON AND RENDER
WHEN YOU GO TO SLEEP/WORK, AS APOPHYSIS KILLS YOUR COMPUTER'S SPEED WHILE IT'S
That's about all there is to this tutorial. For tutorials on how to make different styles of fractals, a good place to search is http://www.deviantart.com
I will soon make a tutorial on how to do postwork, both in GIMP and Photoshop, but, if you noticed from the screenshots, I've been writing this for 2 and a half hours, so I'm going to bed now.