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Create glorious fractal images on your iPad

We all love a nice fractal, don't we? There's an amazing scene in Godfrey Reggio's Naqoyqatsi that's a 30-second rendered dive into the eternally complex Mandelbrot Set, which almost makes it worth sitting through the rest of an otherwise disappointing sequel. Of course if you've ever played with any fractal generator software over the years you'll be well aware that if you want to look at them then you'll have to wait as your computer does all the necessary calculations to turn a small algorithm into a wonderfully complex and colourful pattern, and realtime animation? Forget about it. It's just the way things are, right?

That's what we thought until we played with FraxHD and it almost blew our tiny minds. It's an excellently elegant fractal generator for the iPad (there's an iPhone version as well) that's quite blisteringly fast. With it you can create a fractal pattern (or choose one from a selection of ready-made presets), zoom right into the depths of its recursive details (and out again), rotate it and pan across it. You can adjust the colour palette, play with the lighting and twiddle the textures too, and you can do all of this using pinch, swipe and rotate gestures in as close to realtime as makes not that much difference.

Okay, it's not quite realtime; it does some clever rendering tricks, starting with a low-res representation and then adding detail over the next few seconds. You can see the joins if you're moving stuff around, but it's still more impressive than any other fractal program we've ever played with.

As you can see from our screengrabs it's capable of outputting some incredible images, but if that's not high-quality enough for you then you can pay to use an online render farm and create whopping 81 megapixel images. You also get five free render credits when you sign up for the Frax Cloud so that you can try the cloud rendering feature out.

Colour us impressed; we've never used a fractal program that's been quite so immediately rewarding before, and FraxHD's packed with features that'll keep you exploring for a long time.

Key info

  • Works with: iPad
  • Price: $3.99/£2.49
  • Developer: Iter9
  • Version: 1.0.8
  • App size: 88.4 MB
  • Age rating: 4+

Words: Jim McCauley

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