Frax Flame Tutorial

In order to use this tutorial you will need either Photoshop, Photopaint, or Paint Shop Pro and KPT 5. Keep in mind that this tutorial describes how I use Frax Flame. My way is not the only way, there are other approaches you can try.

 To begin, create a new image, set the size to 5 x 5 inches, 150 dpi, and the color should be black. Now open the KPT 5 effects and click on Frax Flame, the interface looks like this:

Start with the rendering window, set the gamma slider to the far right, then set the intensity slider to the far left.

Next, in the style window, set the style to random.

Take a look at the ‘Mutation’ window, you’ll see that each time you click ‘random’, or one of the other styles, the shapes in the small squares that surround the larger center square change. To start with, you need to find an interesting shape to work with, and you do that by clicking on ‘random’ while watching the shapes in the ‘Mutation’ window change.  When you see a shape that starts to look interesting, click on it, and it will move to the center window. It will also appear in the ‘Preview’ window.

At the bottom of the ‘Mutation’ window you will see the ‘Genetic Variation’ slider. This controls the amount of simlarity between the center ‘parent’ shape and the outer ‘child’ shapes. Moving the slider to the far left causes the ‘child’ shapes to be very similar to the ‘parent’ shape and one another. Likewise, moving the slider to the far right results in shapes that are very different from one another.

When you start your search for some interesting shapes and forms, you will want to keep the ‘Genetic Variation’ slider to the far right. It may take awhile before something interesting begins to evolve, and you may get bored, clicking and clicking and clicking... but be patient! There are treasures hidden in Frax Flame waiting to be discovered.

When you see an interesting shape appear, click on it so it moves to the center window, then move the ‘Genetic Variation’ slider to the left a little. Click on the center shape, and it will spawn ‘child’ shapes in the smaller outer squares. Continue this process, and as the shapes evolve and become more interesting, keep moving the ‘Genetic Mutation’ slider to the left. You can also use the ‘zoom’ and ‘pan’ controls under the preview window to zoom out and see the entire shape, or move in close to focus on the texture. Keep in mind that the closer you zoom in, the longer your finished flame will take to render.

Eventually you will find a really interesting shape. You can save it by clicking on the preset menu button in the lower left corner of the screen:

The preset menu appears. Click on the white triangle on the upper right-hand side of the window to create a new preset library. Type in a name for your new library.

Click on ‘Add Preset’ at the bottom of the screen and your shape is saved as a preset. You can come back to it later if you want, and use it as a starting point for creating new Flames. Click the ‘X’ at the bottom of the window to return to the main screen.

Now it’s time to render your Frax Flame fractal. Click on the small white triangle  in the upper right-hand corner of the ‘Rendering’ window, a drop-down menu will appear.

For the final render you will need to select either ‘Sparse High’ or ‘Sharp High’. ‘Sparse’ is best for airy gauzy type shapes, and ‘Sharp’ is best for more defined, detailed shapes. ‘Sparse’ takes longer to render than ‘Sharp’. Now click the checkmark in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, and - you’re done! Sit back and wait for your flame to render - it might take awhile.

Image Size Problem

Sometimes a flame will just not render, you wait for your flame and end up with nothing. That’s why it’s important to save your shape as a preset, so if the render fails, you can go back to it and try again. If you want to render this particular shape, you will either have to try again with a smaller image size, or change the render setting to medium. This is much more likely to happen with Corel Photopaint than it is with Photoshop. With Photopaint, I can’t render flames any larger than 5 x 5 inches at 150 dpi. If I try 8 x 10 inch renders, they usually fail. I bought Photoshop Elements just so I can make larger Frax Flame renders.

That’s it! I hope this tutorial was helpful to you. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to email me.

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