The purpose of this write-up is to help people choose a fractal generating program so that they can make wonderful fractals. Of the two hundred or so programs that are available on the Net, I have used about 20 different ones, with varying degrees of success. This page contains my recommendations and free program downloads both in the body and at the end.

I propose the following criteria, roughly in order of importance:

1) The

a)

b)

The program should create images whose colour varies continuously rather than discretely. It should produce a variety of colours and textures, as opposed to solid blocks of colour, dotty images, or silhouettes.

2) It should offer a variety of

3) The scope it gives for

4) Utility. It should be

5) Cost. Unless the program is streets ahead of the

Produces chunky or pontillist-looking ('dotty') images in at most 256 colours. The images look crude compared to 24-bit ones. It is not easy to use and DOS-based. Colour manipulation is very awkward. It has many algorithms and you can generate your own, up to a point. It has good zooming-in controls (eg you can rotate the zoom window). It was a great program in its time but is now something of a museum piece.

Download the latest version for free:

Produces a tremendous variety of rich images, with often spectacular colour. It has 117 built-in algorithms and you can

No program I know produces novel and interesting images as easily as ktaza. Colours tend to be brilliant and it has 48 built-in algorithms. Unfortunately, ktaza has quite a few bugs. Despite this, I recommend it strongly.

It has 50 algorithms and is overall a superb program and currently my favourite, together with Sterling2. It produces rich colour and interesting textures. Its only drawback is that it is not free, but see below...

Sterling2 v1.7 ***

It has 50 algorithms and is overall a superb program. It is the best free fractal generator in my opinion. It produces rich colour and interesting textures, giving rich effects. Sterling2 is identical to Sterling except that all its formulae are different. The zip file includes simple instructions. Room 20, Room 21, Room 22 and Room 23 showcase what can be done with the program. Sterling2 is free to download and use:

Download Sterling2 v1.7 Size = 436 Kbytes, free and highly recommended.

This program allows you to make amazing three-dimensional fractals. It also allows you to make fly-overs into and through the objects it draws. These fractals are three-dimensional because, although they are two-dimensional pictures on the screen, they depict three-dimensional virtual objects that exist somewhere in mathematical space, in the same way as a perfect cube exists as a mathematical object. Making three-dimensional fractals is like photographing a sculpture, whereas making two-dimensional fractals is like photographing a painting. All the 3D fractals on my site were made using the Visions of Chaos program, which is available at Softology. The program is now free and I highly recommend it. I have written simple instructions for using the program.

You can download Visions of Chaos from

This is another program that is well-worth trying.

Is similar to tierazon in look, feel and capabilities. However, in my experience, it does not produce images that are as rich or as varied as Tierazon's. It is good at producing organic-looking shapes. It has 143 built-in algorithms and you can specify your own. It tends to produce yucky colour combinations.

As for Flarium, compared to which it is perhaps a little less versatile, though the colours are much more esthetic. It is less feature-rich than Flarium but produces more interesting images. It has 18 built-in algorithms and allows you to specify your own. Filters are limited.

Has 36 formulas but has not been debugged properly yet. I have not been able to make many interesting images with it. Somewhat slow. It has potential.

This program is intended primarily for physically and/or mentally disabled persons, and for children. Hence the user interface is a simple button lay-out on the 4 sides of the screen, with virtually no pop-up dialogues. The actual fractal generator is the same as for ktaza, only the GUI is different. Iftp works well with hands-free operation, ie voice-only control.

Has fairly good help and an interesting layering feature but only a small number of algorithms. Apparently you need to get plug-ins to get real value out of the program. There is a formula editor but I couldn't work out how to use it. Though Ultrafractal has a dedicated following the program is very complex and difficult to use. After considerable effort I have been unable to produce any good fractals using UF. It can also be maddeningly slow to draw an image. Being shareware, it politely asks you to register after 30 days. Despite, or perhaps because of all these drawbacks, UF is one of the most popular fractal generators. As for me, I've sworn never to use it again.

Download the latest version of the Ultrafractal shareware program. Size = 5 MB approx.

Seems to have good potential but nearly all the fractals I have made using it end up looking like coloured sausages. It's also rather slow.

Download the Dofozon 1.07 program for free. Size = 1.4 MBytes.

"Fractal Orbits" and "Brazil" are weaker than any of the above and are not recommended.

I know that some fractal makers violently disagree with parts of what I have written. I hope this little piece will open up a debate. If you want to let the world know about the virtues of your favourite program, please feel invited to do so.

If you want to see an exhausting listing of fractal programs click on Paul Lee's write-up. If that's too bewildering, have a look at a shorter software list.

Another good place to start is: Program Downloads

Of course there is nothing to stop you from looking for other free programs on the Net. Good luck! You can try doing a search for 'fractal' at a freeware listing or just google "fractal programs".

This page was created in 1999 and last updated on 29 November 2016.