Apophysis/Flam3 Fractals on Mac OS X

It’s been a while since I’ve made some fractals. I’ve been wanting to spend some time being creative with them for a few weeks now. On Windows, I love Apophysis and the Flam3 system for generating video’s, so I’m really keen to find something similar on Mac. Running Apophysis and Flam3 through VMWare or Parallels doesn’t seem like the best use of system resources on something that can be very resource intensive. So I’ve been hunting around for native OS X fractal software. So far this is what I’ve found:


  • Mandelbulber – Seems like an interesting take on 3D fractals. I’m looking forward to having a play with this one.
  • GNU XaoS – Seems to support some interesting fractals and the ability to create animations.
  • Fracton – The gallery also has some interesting fractals.

None of the free ones seem to support the Apophyis/Flam3 type of fractals, though they do have some interesting results, I’m going to experiment with them some, I’m particularly interested in Mandelbulber.


  • Fractal Domains – $20.00 – Looks like the fractals are pretty decent and lots of variations available. It’s not the Flam3 style of fractals, but they do look decent. There is a trial download available so I might give it a go.
  • UltraFractal – $69.00 – The most expensive, it looks like it’s quite comprehensive with the ability to build some amazing fractals. Again though, it’s not the Flam3 style of fractals I’m really looking for.
  • FractalWorks – $9.99 – Only available through the App store that I can see, so I probably won’t try this one since there is no trial. The fractals really aren’t what I’m looking for either anyway judging from the galleries.
  • Fractal Architect – $23.99 – This one is also only available through the App store, and it does have a cut down version available for $5.99 that can be upgraded to the full version. This is also the only one I’ve found that generates Flam3 type fractals. It also indicates compatibility with Apophysis. So this one definitely looks like it could be the one! I’m reluctant to pay for it without being able to try it out first, but it does have very positive reviews.

5 thoughts on “Apophysis/Flam3 Fractals on Mac OS X”

  1. Not sure if you’re comfortable with the Mac OS command line / Terminal, but if so it is possible to install flam3 via Macports.

    That would give you the option of running Apophysis in VMWare, where you can see the preview and do quick low-quality renders, save the flame in a shared folder, and then using the Mac natively to do the high-quality render.

    Also, since the flame file is XML, you can make little changes like quality and size by hand once you’ve got the transforms and colors the way you like.

    I’m not an expert with Apophysis but I’ve tried it and it seems to work OK.

  2. The Gimp has a flame renderer/editor. It’s quite powerful. Just google gimp flame render. Here’s a fractal I made with it.

  3. What I do with Gimp is to render a flame, make a new layer and do another one, etc, etc, and then you can duplicate and transform these layer, flipping the vertically and horizontally to make a symmetrical mirror image thing. On the later versions of Gimp you can also use Gmic which can apply serious effects to these flame renders and turn them into kaleidoscope things or what not. Is it as good as Apophysis on Windows? Maybe not, but it can make spectacular images all the same.

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