Applications of Fractals

Landscapes

Fractal landscapes is a very classic application of fractals. If you look at a mountain, you will not find its shape being a cone, but instead you will find a more complicated shape with some smaller hills and valleys. Looking at every hill, you will find it to be composed of even smaller hills and valleys. Even if you pick up a small rock from the mountain, you will find it to be similar to the entire mountain — a property of fractals which we defined as self-similarity. To form a 3D landscape out of a fractal, all you have to do is assign a height to every point depending on the color and draw a picture with those heights. Usually plasma fractals are used for the landscapes because they give the most realistic pictures. The steps are the following;

Step 1: Draw a fractal that you will use for the landscape.

Step 2: Change the colors to make it look realistic.

Step 3: Either assign a height to every color and draw the picture.

Or wrap the picture around a sphere to make a fractal planet.

The 3D landscapes that you see are made using Bryce 3D. It allowed us to create light effects and put in appropriate background sky and ocean. However, you can still write programs to create 3D landscapes as descrbed in our programming algorithms section.

Fractals other than plasma fractal are not used very often because of being unable to produce realistic landscapes. However, fractals such as Julia sets can still be used to create good non-realistic landscapes for science fiction movies:

Fractal landscapes and planets were indeed used for special effects in many movies, including Star Trek.