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Fractal Lab

Published on 5 March 2011

A WebGL based web application for rendering 2D and 3D fractals in real-time.

Watch the video below and then signup for release notification over at

Update June 2013: I know I've been quiet on this project for quite some time! Development hasn't stopped, in fact it has become far more than this old prototype could imagine... The first part will be announced soon ;)

  Last updated: 12 June 2013


  • Benjamin Aaron Degenhart commented at 5 March 2011 at 23:09

    absolutely gorgeous! deep respect for your work Tom, this is a new chapter!!
    i can feel how having control on where i want to fly to (vs. a rendered video that i just see), is doing something very interesting with my mind... i am applying 'organic navigation' (like following curiosity, a sense of beauty, opening space, hiding behind a corner...) to a mathematical construct... eventually that expands my capacity to process through space - and i can change the space while i am in it!! man, the psychological and perceptional implications of this are huge...

  • vade commented at 6 March 2011 at 00:12

    Amazing work. This is just awesome.

  • weirdcore commented at 6 March 2011 at 00:28

    this is mindblowingly good!

  • Satya Meka commented at 6 March 2011 at 01:21

    Just Incredible! This will open up a lot of possibilities. I have tested it on my browser and it works really fast.

  • Pitel commented at 6 March 2011 at 09:43

    Does not work in Chrome dev 11.0.686.3 (build 76659) on Linux :(

    But the video looks pretty jaw droping!

  • og2t commented at 6 March 2011 at 13:11

    So much nicer having thumbnails in the Library, great feature. I am going to explore some fractals now.

  • Ivo Leitão commented at 6 March 2011 at 20:35

    Absolutly amazing !! Keep up

  • alx commented at 7 March 2011 at 13:30

    Amazing work as ever, Tom. Great to see someone pushing the envelope with WebGL, too. Fingers crossed, now Chrome ships with it turned on, more and more people will start to use it. Might even have to dip a toe on the water myself, someday.


  • Beebles commented at 7 March 2011 at 16:48

    My cartoon jaw just dropped through 30 floors of my office building.

  • jes commented at 7 March 2011 at 21:50

    stunning work

    envy your passion

  • Sean Malroy commented at 8 March 2011 at 03:28

    this is so exciting. great work! Is there a video option where you can make little movies of your trip and save them as movie files?

  • Norm Bearrentine commented at 8 March 2011 at 06:18

    I'm in awe, totally mesmerizing. I've watched your video on, but I'm afraid to play with it till Cinema 4D finishes a long render. In the meantime, how do you make the videos? Is there a record function somewhere, or is that a whole other process/application?

  • Dan Peddle commented at 8 March 2011 at 18:28

    Just incredible, thank you so much for sharing and making this.

  • whaling commented at 9 March 2011 at 12:21

    wow! - thanks a bunch

  • JaK commented at 9 March 2011 at 17:31

    WHAT?¿ Chrome on windows is not using opengl driver calls? it uses direct3D and thus recompiling makes slower (and necessary) ?¿

    Sorry, but blame on on -Chrome crap, crap, crap

    Anyway the tool is a top 10 hit!

  • Rodd Halstead commented at 11 March 2011 at 18:41

    The work you have been doing to render 3D fractals using shaders has fascinated me (via your Flickr photostream) for some time. Thanks building Fractal Labs so the rest of us can play with these incredible structures. I didn't realize how far Chrome had come along with WebGL. Fractal Labs is beautifully designed -- it takes advantage of web functionality, while feeling more like a desktop application.
    Best regards, Rodd

  • tit_toinou commented at 13 March 2011 at 10:27

    Thanks for all of your projects, especially this one.
    It looks promising ;) .
    Keep up the good work !

  • Carlos commented at 18 March 2011 at 23:35

    The Fractal Lab it's just amazing! Great work!
    Please compile all the fractal types on a Pixel Bender like the mandelbulb filter.
    The DodecahedronIFS type is awesome.
    Is there any possibility to make the Mandelbulb effect "camera aware".

    Keep up the good work!!!!

  • phase commented at 20 March 2011 at 01:10

    Mindblowing! Wish I could set two keyframes and play a sequence... that would be the bomb.
    Thanks a lot for your work.

  • mark ptak commented at 20 March 2011 at 16:14

    Incredible. I hope all those teachers in high school trying to make math cool get this out to their students so that have something to do to break up the farmville monontony

  • Greg commented at 29 March 2011 at 04:08

    When I first went to Fractal Lab it blew my mind. All of a sudden you're exploring complex 3d fractals in real time instead of days to render a few minutes. Also the web browser interface is such a unique approach and effective. I have been exploring fractals since the 80s. Obviously we are into an entirely new era of creative graphics with GPU processing and multi-core computers.
    I just upgraded my old P4 3 ghz dual core with Phenon 2 x4 955 processor, Asus mb and geforce gts 450 video card. Cost was under $400 and the benefit was amazing. Speed of the processor alone is 6 times faster combined with another 10 times with GPU processing. No more waiting around.
    Fractal Lab exploration was fun. I noticed the keyboard navigation was tricky, took getting used to and it was easy to crash program with careless clicking, to be expected for an unpolished first version. Would like to see more fractals to explore. I will be experimenting with existing ones, changing the code to see where we can go.
    Thanks Tom for your amazing work. Will be looking forward to future version. GREG B.

  • Jason Fletcher commented at 1 April 2011 at 03:58

    After looking into Incedia, Apophysis, Xenodream, and Mandelbulb3d... This is by far the most intuitive. Bravo! I have been dreaming of this for a long long time. It is quite elegant and stunning. What are your plans to go with it further? Ever going to make it into its own 3D toolset? We love your work over here at the Charles Hayden Planetarium. Wish I could hook up a fisheye lens shader into this...

  • Dan commented at 4 April 2011 at 06:58

    Effin amazing, and I don't say that lightly. This is better than sex. I'm jealous of the Mac users who have instant recompiles, but even on Windows the fractal navigation part is very smooth. I installed Firefox 4, which is no longer in beta, and the release candidate seems not to have webgl turned on by default. Google for instructions to turn it on - not too hard. Any chance of being able to do resolutions larger than screen resolution? Anyway, big thanks for such a fun app, and congrats on a very impressive piece of work.

  • Champa Methi commented at 16 April 2011 at 09:10

    Tom - your work is exemplary, and fires within me a passion to explore all sorts of generative art. Thanks for all the inspiration, and the tools to do so.

    One question -in Fractal Lab, in the 2D fractals, you use orbit traps in your example with the flower. I'd like to insert an image of my own in place of the flower, but I do not seem to be able to do so. How do you navigate the browser to look for my image instead of the flower? Thanks.

  • Tom commented at 16 April 2011 at 09:47

    Thanks for the comments guys :)

    Champa: there was a bug in a previous version where you couldn't change the text of the input box for the image URL. I've fixed now, but you still need to press recompile to load the new image for the orbit trap.

  • Brian commented at 23 April 2011 at 02:21

    What a great tool:)

    I am a prman shader writer getting into gl shaders, and this is a great "lab" to experiment in.


  • rainer commented at 6 June 2011 at 13:03

    very inspiring!

  • Danny Holten commented at 18 June 2011 at 22:39

    Absolutely incredible; slick interface, browser-based, fast, and fascinating for hours on end; Unfortunately I seem to be having problems with the antialiasing feature on Chrome (probably need to upgrade). Keep up the great work.

  • Meh commented at 4 March 2012 at 22:56

    Holy Moley that's like mind warp stuff! The level of geometric shapes rendered all in real time at once, it feels like space age material I'm almost afraid to ask. But can you render infinite space?