A lot of sites have reported that a new, interesting 3D version of the Mandelbrot set has been discovered. The Mandelbulb has aesthetic qualities similar to Quaternion-Julia sets, but seems more diverse and suited for exploration.

“Cave of Lost Secrets” from Skytopia.

Skytopia has a great overview complete with many stunning images.

A good way to view the basic structure is this 56 Megapixel render from Skytopia (using the Seadragon viewer – requires Silverlight):

As of now, I do not know of any released software capable of generating Mandelbulbs, but it probably won’t be long:

Recent posts by Iñigo Quílez (who produced the Kindernoiser Quaternion-Julia set GPU renderer) indicate that he is very to close to completing a fast GPU implementation. These posts also include the basic source-code, which I believe should make it possible to port to other targets, for instance Pixel Bender. Apparently Quílez has cooked up a distance estimator, and a fake ambient occlusion scheme (based on orbit traps) for these Mandelbulbs, which sounds very promising.

7 thoughts on “Mandelbulb

  1. Hi Abram,

    That’s a nice solution – but I think it works best by compiling a custom function into POV-ray as you do, right?

    I don’t think POV-ray allows true conditionals in the internal functional language – so I guess you suggest unrolling the ‘while’-loop a fixed number of iterations using pre-processor loops? I have a feeling this will be somewhat slow, compared to the compiled-in version 🙂

    But thanks for sharing your implementation!

  2. I’m almost there with a Pixel Bender version, from which it should be easy to convert to GLSL and then use with WebGL in the browser…. 🙂

  3. Hi Tom,

    I had a feeling that you were working on something!
    Looking forward to the Pixel Bender version (I guess finding a WebGL implementation on Windows will bw somewhat difficult :-))

  4. Hi Subblue,

    Right now I’m in Milano (at a Generative Art conference actually), but when I get home, I’ll add a blog post with an overview of the different GPU implementations. As always, I think your implementation looks very impressive.

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