The most important lesson

Continuing from my last post, what’s the most important lesson I’ve learned from creating frost?

You can only understand something once you have built it with your own hands. tTere’s just no substitute for this kind of experience.

I expected to learn a lot of programming doing fr0st, but besides that I’ve gained a much deeper level of understanding of the inner workings of fractals in general. For the first time ever, I truly got what the chaos game does, and what the triangles in Apophysis stand for. You can always guess and suppose, but actually knowing is a completely different feeling, one that gives you a much stronger sense of control, of being in charge when making a flame instead of relying on chance to get that perfect set of parameters.

If everytime you go through your old flames you feel a strong urge to overhaul them and get them up to par with your current work, that’s a strong sign that you’re continually learning and refining your technique. If that’s not happening, it means you’re stuck.

In my case, starting to build a flame editor myself allowed me to break through just such a plateau of skill. And the most surprising thing I learned in the process is that the driving force behind the fractal flame algorithm is very powerful, but equally simple. The chaos game only takes a few lines of code to implement, and while that’s admittedly a very bad example to learn from, it serves to show that all fractal programs are nothing more than sophisticated implementations of the same few lines, and those very programs have such complexity and depth that they can leave you completely baffled at your utter inability to understand how something so simple is creating this infinite beauty. A very humbling thought.

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