Introduction to Mandelbulb3d – Tutorial by Hal Tenny

If you still have M3d (Mandelbulb 3D) open, then go ahead and close it. Navigate to your M3d directory and click on the M3Parameter folder. From the list choose JuliaSuperCubeBallance.m3p.

After M3d opens the new formula we selected, click on calculate 3D. You should have something similar to what I have here. (Remember I resized to the resolution I wanted so yours may look different!)Lets play in this window a bit, shall we? Everything you see here is all default settings from the formula except the image size I changed on the top of the window and right next to it, the scale. (Both are circled in red)

The default image size is 1600×1330 and the scale is set to 1/2. The image has scroll bars because it’s so big. I like to see the whole fractal. If you select 1/3 scale, you can see the whole fractal, but it takes a little while to render. This is why I change the image resolution to 720×450 and a scale of 1/1. It renders faster and is in a ratio that can be used for my desktop wallpaper. After changing the resolution, I resize the window and the scroll bars are gone. This is my personal preference, like I said before, you don’t have to do this. Another thing you can do for quick rendering is set the DE accuracy number (circled in red at the lower right of main window) to a lower number. I have no idea what DE accuracy is, but for quick views you can lower it. Don’t go so low that it distorts the image! For this formula, 3 seems to be good. You want this number higher for final rendering! I’ll go into that later.

I haven’t played with all the settings in the main window. The main ones I play with using this formula are the Julia Mode button, the FOVy setting and the zoom setting. Essentially, the FOVy setting (Field Of View?) is a kind of zoom where a smaller number is zoomed in and a larger number is zoomed out. The zoom field is the opposite. Small number is zoomed out, large number is zoomed in.

Also circled in red on the bottom of the main window is a tool to rotate the image and one to move the image. The first tool on the bottom is a zoom tool. I don’t use it as it doesn’t seem to work as I expect it too. I’m simply not going to go into it. All I know is most of the time when I tried it, it messed up my image. There is an undo button as well that sometimes appears but most of the time I don’t see it and when it does happen to appear, it didn’t seem to work for me. You may have different results. This is important! Save your parameters often! If the undo button works for you, then fine. But I have lost a few good fractals by not saving parameters, so when I get close to something I like, I save! The save button is on the top left, circled in red.

As far as the move tool goes, select the tool, move your cursor into the image, left click and hold down your mouse button and drag the image in the direction you want. If you are zoomed way in on the image, it will move a lot. If you are zoomed way out, the image will not seem to move much so you will have to drag it several times to get a different view. The rotate view is shown in degrees. Obviously a higher number will rotate the image more. Now let’s change some settings!


You should have the JuliaSuperCubeBallance.m3p formula opened as described above. If you don’t then do it now. Either leave the default settings or change your resolution and scale as described above. Remember after all changes you have to hit the calculate 3D button in order to see your changes! Click the button at the top of the main window that says ‘Reset pos’. Set your FOVy to 100. Set the rotation to 45 degrees and click the up arrow once and the right arrow once. Select the button that says Julia Mode. Click calculate 3D and you should have something like I have shown here. Experiment with the FOVy button a little. You can use any full number, no decimals. At FOVy 5 the fractal fills the window. At FOVy 1000, there are many smaller copies of the fractal.


As it stands now this fractal is a bit plain. Now play with the julia numbers. First off I want to mention that you can see very little difference while changing the numbers past 2 decimal points. In other words if the number is 6.54982354 and you change it to 6.54 I doubt you will see any change what so ever. So as I play with the Julea Mode values, the first thing I do is get rid of everything beyond 2 decimal points. It just makes things look less daunting. So do this thing. Get rid of the excess decimals. Now you have X, Y, and Z fields to play with that actually look manageable! (I have X=0.62 Y=-0.60 Z=-6.03) Those are the default numbers with the extra decimal points removed. So let’s play. Change the X value to 2.62 and the Z value to -8.03 and also change your FOVy value to 20. Now we’re getting somewhere. You can see some detail rise up out of the flat surfaces. Another number you can play with is right under the FOVy value, Maximum iterations. Don’t let this scare you. It basically controls the rendering detail. If something looks too cluttered or detailed, try changing the value from 60 to 16 or 17 until you see a change you like. I set my Maximum iterations on 16 in the example below. You can change these numbers all you want until you find a look that pleases you. I’ll stop playing with them now or this tutorial will be too long.

That pretty much covers the things I play with in the main window. Let’s move on to the Formula window. Once again, don’t worry about anything here, you’re not actually playing with the formula itself, just a few values. Different formulas will have more value fields, and some have no value fields. The one we picked has two fields to play with, Scale and Min R.


Just simple. Here are only 2 values to play with this time. I don’t know if I’ll describe this right but here goes. The scale value once again determines the detail in the fractal, similar to the Maximum iterations. But rather than changing the detail of the render, this changes the detail of the fractal itself. In other words it starts dividing the surfaces into more and more parts… Make sense? If you change the scale in the formula window from 2 to 2.2, you will see the main flat surfaces divided into more narrow surfaces. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. That division of surfaces flows right up onto the raised portions our julia tweaking made. Do this: Change the scale in the formula window to 2.2 and the FOVy value in the main window to 5. You should have something like what I have below.

julia_3Now also in the Formulas window, you can change the Min R value. I really don’t have a clue on how to tell you what this actually does. If you look at the image above, you will see how the ‘dome’ shape looks like it has a roof on it or is covered. Thats with the Min R value set at the default of .5… If you change that value to .3, the ‘roof’ or cover opens up! It’s like a box kind of. In other formulas it is a box. Here it is more like a thin wafer or something similar. At any rate, play with this value and you’ll see the ‘dome’ open and close… kind of. The image below shows the change I made to the Min R value from .5 to .3…


The only other thing I do is sometimes I try adding another formula along with the first one we chose. At the top of the formula window are tabs for adding more formulas. I usually open the second tab, Fo.2, and select either drop down list (Internal or External) and pick a formula. Tweak the numbers and have fun… Remember to save parameters often and always before you make a change you’re unsure of! Now on to lighting.

Mandelbulb 3D Tutorial

lighting_1This is the lighting window at all default settings. This time I circled in red the area I don’t tweak! Feel free to if you want. The next set of controls down are the light angle sliders. The angle at which the light shines on your image.

The next four controls are Coloring controls of a sort. I’m honestly not exactly sure what the abbreviations stand for. Sp might be specular or reflection of light. Di- I don’t know. Amb is ambient light I believe. I think that’s light reflected off of other surfaces. Depth is the depth of the fog. You really just need to play with all of these sliders until you get a lighting effect or color you are pleased with.

Col. Start and Col. Mid Basically rotates your gradient through out the fractal I think. I’m sorry I just don’t know how to explain the color tweaking much. Tweak them all though! The main ones I use a lot are the Depth for the fog and the Amb Shadow. The Amb Shadow is the depth of the shadow, kind of like the contrast.

Not very helpful was I? Well you don’t need help with the color! (I hope) All I did in the example image below is decrease the fog a little, made the Amb Shadows a little deeper and adjusted the color.


Mandelbulb 3D Tutorial

Now for what little I know about rendering your piece to save. Remember I had my resolution set to 720×450? If I saved this as a jpg, it wouldn’t look that great. Simply put, the higher the resolution you render at, the better it will look. Looking back in the main window, you will see a row of buttons on the right side about in the middle that are labeled, preview, video, mid and high. I don’t mess with the video button. As far as the other buttons are concerned, preview is the size we are at now, mid is a higher res, and high is obviously higher. The buttons render in ratio to your image size. For instance I render on the high setting. That changes the resolution to 3072×1920. When I resize this image for my desktop, it is in the proper aspect ratio so that it will not distort the image. The other setting you have to click on is back up on the top of the main window. Just be sure your scale is still set on 1/1. Worth mentioning here is that just rendering your image does not save it as a jpg. You do that manually after you render. So do this: Click the high button, make sure your scale is set to 1/1 and click on the calculate 3d button. This renders your image at high resolution. I also have the DE accuracy box circled. If you raise this number, the render quality is a bit better but it also takes longer to render. 8 is the default and I sometimes raise this. It’s up to you.


After the render completes, you have to save it. On the top left you’ll see where I circled the jpeg button. Click it, name it, save it, done! (Also top left I circled the ini dirs button. That is where you set your saving directories and such.)

I hope this helps you find a decent fractal with Mandelbulb 3D. Good hunting!

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