Photoshop Fractal Tutorial

David's picture

You can develop fractal like images by using a variety of techniques in Photoshop. One great tool is the use of actions which allows you to repeat a process over and over. 

Here are a few examples of using actions in a repetative process to develop a fairly complex image from a simple image 


How to Do It

  1. First is to open Photoshop and create a new file. I would suggest something like 1000px x 1000px at 150 dpi. We might be aiming for the web but the 150 dpi will give us the advantage of zooming in later if you might want to. You will also need some sort of image to start with. For this example I used a leaf and adjusted the color. Nature images seems to be good sources for fractals.
  2. To give the design more color and reptativeness you can take your original image duplicate it a couple times and change the tint.
  3. After aranging them merge all of the its to one layer.
  4. Shrink it down to a smaller less noticable size. for this image I do not want the leaf to be noticeable by the end. Also, I place it in the lower right since I will need the space to the left and up later.
  5. Now we are going to create a new action and start recording it. In this first action I am going to make a line of these leafs that rotate and shrink.
  6. The first recorded action is to duplicate the layer.
  7. Next take the duplicated layer and rotate it slightly, scale it down a little, and shift it to the upper left.
  8. After performing the transform stop recording the action. Now you can play that action over and over to create a pattern. Everytime the action runs it creates a new layer off of the previous and transforms it relatively.
  9. Now since this is an itertive process merge all of the new layers and scale down the new design we have.
  10. We are going to record a new action like we just did. The action will duplicate the layer again and transform it. The one diffrence with this new recording is that the center of the transform is posistioned in the center of the image. 
  11. I am only scaling and rotating the image around this fixed point which will give us the apearence of a spiral.
  12. I repeat the process another time and if you posistion the center of the transform good you can get the apearence of a nautilus shell.

Hopefully this tutorial will give someone some ideas on how to make some really neat images. Also, actions do not have to be limited to just resizing and rotation. You can use any filter, color manipulation, or anything else available in Photoshop as well.