Lesson 3: Colors
In lesson 2: Formulas, I showed how to produce the fractal shown in figure 3.1.
The colors are really very dark. I also think the brown tips are a bit dull. Now it’s time to do something about this.
The gradient editor
At the top of the UF screen in the middle of the toolbar, you will find the gradient icon .
Click on the icon to open the gradient window (figure 3.2):
This looks complicated, but is fairly easy to use. The colors shown are the ones in your fractal. Depending on the formula and the parameters in your formula, some colors are shown, others are not.
Figure 3.3 shows the colors in my fractal next to the fractal itself. At the far left in the color panels of the gradient window, you see a white bar over the blue color of my fractal.
The small squares called “control points” in the blue part of the panels are white, which means that this color has been selected and can be changed. It’s not always clear which areas in the fractal correspond to the control points in the color panels. By moving the control point to another color (see the first method below), you can immediately see which part of the fractal corresponds to the the control point. Sometimes you can’t see any change. Simply click on another of the control points inside the color panels.
You can choose from among several methods to change colors. I will describe two of them below:
Changing colors: First method
Place the cursor over the white control point. Click and hold the left mouse button and drag the white control point up or down. You can do this in any of the three color panels on which you see the white control point.
At the far left of each color panel, you see a small color scale from light to dark. If you move the white control point in the second color band upward, blue will change to green.
You can move any of the control points in the color panels up or down to change the whole color scheme of your fractal.
Changing colors: Second method
You can select the colors directly in the following way:
In figure 3.3, you see a large blue square in the gradient window. This is the color selected (with the white control point). If you click on the blue square, a window pops up that looks like the one in figure 3.4.
A lot of slider options, but we’ll steer clear of them for a while yet. In this window, you also see the large blue square (bottom right). Double-click on the blue square and the window you see in figure 3.5 pops up (figure 3.5).
Now you have an endless number of colors. You can choose a color under Basic colors. Use the slider on the right far side of the window to change the hue of the selected color.
You can also choose a color from the rainbow-like area at the right. Click on the color you want. Here, too, use the slider on the right far side of the window to change the hue of the selected color.
Once you’ve chosen the color, click OK and you will return to the window you see in figure 3.4. If you like, you can still use one of the many sliders to adjust the color. I personally frequently use Saturation. This allows you to adjust the grayscale.
Tip: UF has a handy option to change the colors of your fractal. Click on the Gradient icon to open the gradient window shown in figure 3.2. If you click on the randomize icon in the Select Color menu, UF will randomly change the colors of your fractal. You can also right-click on the blue square, and choose randomize from the dropdown menu that appears. You can randomize as often as you like. What you will also see is that the fractal sometimes seems to change. This is because the color scheme allows other areas of the fractal to emerge.
If you’ve found a color scheme using randomize, you can continue to change the colors as described for example under First method above.
[color sample 1]
[color sample 2]
Here, the blue is lightened and then the grayscale is increased a bit by moving the slider in Saturation in the Select colors menu (figure 3.4) to the right.
[color sample 3]
[color sample 4]
These colors can also be produced using randomize. The fractal above looks completely different than the one in color sample 2.
The color gradient
One of the nice color properties of fractals is that they can merge so beautifully. Drag the control points in the color panels of the gradient window left or right to change the color gradient.
Adjusting the color gradient can change the fractal’s appearance. Changing the color gradient for example makes broad shapes, such as the “brown tips” in color sample 1, become much narrower, like in color sample 3.
Tip: UF again has a preview for color shifting results. In the right part of your screen, there is a window called Color cycling (figure 3.6).
(If you can’t see this window, click on the Window tab in the toolbar and check Color Cycling in the dropdown list that appears under Window.)
If you click on the arrow pointing to the right, you see the background color of the fractal change steadily. This function animates the background, and you see all the control points in the color panels move to the right. When you’re happy with the result, click on the arrow again, and the colors stop cycling.
Adjust the cycling speed by moving the slider next to the arrows (figure 3.6). Don’t make the cycle too fast, because first of all, many computers can’t react that quickly and second, you can’t react fast enough when you’re happy with the color.
Adding or removing colors
Besides changing the colors and gradients, you can also add and/or remove colors. You do this in the gradient window too (figure 3.2). Opening the gradient editor (click the gradient icon to bring up the gradient editor) give us a number of new icons, two of which are the add colors and remove colors icons: .
Click on the icon with the plus sign. Next, move your cursor to the spot in any one of the three color panels where you want to add a color and click. A new control point will appear where you have clicked. You can now set or shift the color as described earlier in this section.
To remove a color, first click on the control point that belongs to that color. Next, click on the minus sign icon. The color has now been removed.
Tip: Experiment as much as you like with these options to change, add and remove colors. If you don’t like the result, close the gradient editor and then press Ctrl+Z (press and hold the Ctrl key and then click on Z). This undoes the last action, and the fractal will look like it did before you opened the gradient editor.
So, now you know the basics of color selection in UF. Time for the next adventure: Layers.