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Mandelbulb 3D Tutorial 4: Basic Tips

Journal Entry: Tue Jan 28, 2014, 1:40 PM

Mandelbulb 3D Tutorial 4: Basic Tips



First thing we'll cover are some tweaking tips. Tweaking, not to be confused with Twerking. Almost everyone does it. It's one of the best ways to learn. This section of the tutorial will cover some of the basics that will hopefully help new MB3D users with tweaking. Just don't let words like iterations, raystep multiplier and stepthwidth limiter scare you off. You don't need to know the math behind these things. Just consider those words as lables to show you where a setting is and you'll do fine. That's what the GUI is for, to make using the program fairly simple. I'm going to use a sample parameter of mine from about 2 1\2 years ago which is a tweak in a long line of tweaks. You will find that I am guilty of a few things that I'm going to cover, so it's a good example.

As always, I like to mention that I am not a tech giant. I really don't know a lot of the technical aspects of Mandelbulb 3D. If you are interested in the technical aspects or have more technical questions, the best place to get those answered is at Fractal Forums. You can pick up the software there as well, Mandelbulb 3D. So while I'm not a tech giant, I do however know my way around the program pretty well, and can make fairly good images.

Also, and this is one of the most important things about tweaking, you should always give credit to the original author of parameters you tweak. It's common courtesy and such a simple thing to do. It would be nice if you gave a link to the parameters or image you are tweaking too, but at least mention the artist's name and say your image is based on their parameters or some aspect of their work, such as a particular formula combination or guidance they may have given.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due



I have argued with a few people over the years when I discovered they did tweaks of my work or other artist's work, and had not given credit to them. First off, if it was so obvious that I recognized it as being a tweak of someone else's work, then it possibly should have been tweaked some more. Regardless, the point being that credit was not given, and the most used excuse was, "I couldn't remember where I got the parameters from or who made them." I think it's a poor excuse. So the best thing to do to avoid this is to bookmark the location of the original parameters, or use the original artists name and image name as your saved parameters name. Example: blahblah-by-blahblah-1.m3p Just simple. No excuses.

On the particular parameters I chose as an example, I was actually able to track the lineage or evolution to where the starting parameters originated. I'm in no way saying you have to do this, but it was interesting. You can see the lineage of these parameters here: Parameter Lineage. So my parameters were a tweak of Brainpipes by Baddad. So as you can see, I gave credit where credit was due! :)

Let's Get Started!



Here are my parameters exactly as I posted them a few years ago:

Mandelbulb3Dv17{
Q.....h...EZ/...w.....E...U4IYmXsaT2.DhojygaXX/EfwcGHu/2dz9C1Qg0PBQxzGJNRcRBByzj
........................................kz1........Y./..................Y.2.....
.................M.1/....6EU5...N0....k4.....2NKEvc97VqD/.EM1DtD...6//...w1....Y
z.EnAnID12../2.........4.1....................2...........U0.....y1...sD...../..
.wX0LD0DVZHLFCU2HxXlgJe/RywKz4KxKFRMyHojyjCy8S2WRxnwvwtoer2Izok5enBJdHoD91jN7kP4
fw9l/5ohoWBHzyfkdxwa5.qD......YtF.............kD.E....sD/6kz.cNaNaNaNavD........
.............A6U.i1...........KRV3..q3K.UOLM/.oRV3.sr3K..WLM/.GSV3..............
..................kz.wzzz1.U..6.a/...Y1...EB....V1...20....A....c....EXx...UiJ4Y
Y65U.08cUyDcU0uzzzzzz1......Gc..zzzz.s0alwF.HWwD5Got8VlJaznQ2gtfpsZpz.028.kFrA0.
NqRaqWXXzzHbjGR3SUQxz.........../203z9nAu.k6mIqp.taszw1osMgdlHzDShM3ZaYq1zP..c..
0RH9.Q6Fbf24LNvjZBL9s6JkUz9..........IF6I..VHx0.AfpnSPCqaz1uk5LfQvXwz8ra5DlJDw.E
JEW0zH09r.EMoIRnIlIqzcnJXNw/X0xjw9zUrWWqG.2..UGIF/.cU08.ihkzyq5.U08c.662zzzz..8c
U0Eqb6KA...cU08.Am0k.1A.U08c.YdAlV1...8cU0ESzwDU...cU08.xv5cU08.U08c.oqTU08c..8c
U0kkz/8cU0.cU08....cU08.zz/cU08.yz1cU08.xz3cU08.................................
E....M...../....2....A....EEh3aSdtqNU6oPs/UQ..........................k/9.......
...................wz...........nAnAnAnAXz1.....................................
................................................................................
.....................2.....3..../....wpIkVKNmJaFjl4NdtqNl.......................
6............................k/E..........2........../.......60E..........EnAnAn
AnAvz...........................................................................
................................1....E/...E/....T/pPgZbFjl4NdtqN................
........................................S/2.....................................
................................................................................
..........................................U0....2....A....EEh3aSdtqNU6oPs/EN....
......................k/9............................/........yDnAnAnAnAnz1.....
...oz0........zD................................................................
.....................................................2.....3....0....wpIdtKNExqR
m..P..........................................................zDOaNaNaNa7z9.....
...wz.........zD................................................................
................................................................3....M....k.....
4x4PYZaPb/GGiF56ExqR......................U0.U............................2.....
...7.1.........E................................................................
.........................................................................../}

As a note to beginners, here's how you paste parameters into MB3D:

1) Select the parameters and copy them to your clipboard. (Select text with your mouse, hit the control and c keys)
2) Open MB3D
3) Click the icon on the top left of main window I have circled in red in the image below.
4) Click the Calculate 3D button I have circled in the image below.

1 by HalTenny

Once you click the Calculate 3D button, a preview render will begin and the first thing you're going to notice is that the image is rendering very slow. My computer is fairly fast, and even so, the render estimate is quite high for a preview. The render estimate was 1 minute 35 seconds. The actual preview render took 1 minute 47 seconds. Right away, this might put many people off in tweaking these parameters because they render so slow. Many times, this can be overcome so that the preview renders much, much quicker. Not always, but quite often. It depends on many things, such as what formulas are used, preview render settings, etc. So let's cover those things.

Preview Renders


One of the first things you'll want to check if a preview render is slow, are the render settings. Many times, people post their parameters exactly as their finished image was rendered. In other words, the settings may be of a high resolution image with high quality render settings. So let's have a look at my render settings in the image below. Now I find these settings odd, seeing them today. Obviously, at the time, I just didn't know better. :) By the way, I do want to say that my tutorials are based on my opinions, observations and experiences. If you hear of or see different things than what I say here, that's from another persons perspective or opinion and doesn't make my way or their way right or wrong. So, anyway, as I said, the preview render settings are odd. It's like they are a mixture of final render and preview render settings.

First off, the image scale settings (red square at top of image) are good for a preview, so this is not slowing render speed. Higher resolution images obviously take longer and for previewing are simply not necessary. So if you are tweaking and the resolution is high, lower it for a significant preview render speed increase. Speed increase = shorter render time :)

Now let's look at the actual render settings (red square on the right side). There are two main problems here that are slowing the preview render significantly. The biggest culprit is the Stepwidth limiter setting. It is sometimes used to decrease noise in your image under certain circumstances. You need to believe me on this one. You almost, and I stress "almost," never need this set to anything but 1. Yes, that's a number one, not 0.1, and not 0.01, but 1. And I can say this definitively, a lower setting has NEVER helped reduce noise in ANY of my images, EVER. :) Again, this is only from my experience, your results may differ. I'm not saying it doesn't work at all, or has never worked for anyone, I'm sure it has helped some people with some image noise. I'm just saying it has never helped any of my images. What it will do is increase render time when set too low. And (in my opinion) it absolutely should not be set to anything but 1 for the preview render. Someone in the tweaking chain changed this setting from dainbramage1's original setting of .75 to .01, I don't know who, don't care. It wasn't me, even though I failed to realize it at the time years ago when I posted my parameters. I probably didn't know better then :). So if you load the parameters above, and right away change the Stepwidth limiter setting to 1, the preview render goes from taking 1:47 to 0:55 seconds on my computer, a big difference.

The next setting to look at is the Raystep multiplier. This setting is set lower for higher quality rendering. Here you can see I have it set to 0.05. This is a low setting and fine for finish renders, but again, (depending on the formulas used) rarely needed for preview renders. Most of the time, this can be set to 0.1 to 0.09 with satisfactory results for a preview render. In this case, we can set it as high as 0.5 and still get a fairly clean preview render. I want to be clear here. The actual setting you use for your finish render has to be determined by you. It will depend on the formulas used, how big an image size you render at and how long you are willing to wait for the render to finish, among other things. So changing the Raystep multiplier setting from 0.05 to 0.5 doesn't effect the preview image too much in this case. What it does do is change the render time from 0:55 seconds to 0:08 seconds on my computer! So we went from 1:47 to begin with, all the way down to 0.08. (yes, that's eight seconds) It's important to point out that obviously the image is a little noisy with some minor ragged edges, (see inside blue box in image below) but this is just the preview, and for speed purposes, you shouldn't let it concern you at this point.

  2 by HalTenny


Impact Of Formulas Used



So now instead of you discarding these parameters as a tweaking project because the preview takes too long to render, we have something you can work with. Another thing to check while tweaking is the impact that each formulas has on the image. This is very easy to do, and there is a very good reason to do it. Sometimes certain formulas have been added that don't impact the image much at all visually, but they do sometimes increase the length of time the render takes. We've already reduced the preview render time down to 8 seconds, and I doubt we'll improve on that much, but we're going to look anyway. Time to open the 3D Navi window! Click the button that says "3D Navi", located at the top left corner (second icon down) of the main preview window.

The way to check if a formula has an impact or not is to turn them off, one at a time. There are two ways to do this, the easiest being in the 3D Navi window. In the image below, the red box shows what formula number you currently have selected. You can click the up and down arrows to scroll through the formulas. Next to that in the blue box is the name of the formula currently selected, and the number of iterations. To turn a formula off, you need to reduce iterations to zero. As you can see in the image, iterations for the Amazing Box formula are set to 4. If you push the down arrow until it says zero, then the formula is turned off. Usually, if not always, you will find that if you turn the first formula off, there will be a significant difference. And indeed, if you reduce the iterations to 3, you will immediately see the first formula has a significant impact, and can not be eliminated as a test to decrease render time.

So you do this one formula at a time going through all the formulas. Select the second formula by clicking the up arrow inside the red box. Iterations on this one are set to 1, so turn this formula off by clicking the down arrow inside the blue box. You will see this formula has no important, visible impact and can be eliminated. If you send this very 'minor' tweak to the main window by pressing the button (View to main)in the green box, and then click Calculate 3D in the main preview window, on my computer, this resulted in a one second speed gain. Obviously not significant in this case, but you can see where we're going with this. Some formulas add to the render time, and if they are not needed, should be eliminated.

You may wonder why that formula is there in the first place. I added that formula at some point in the tweaking process to see what it did. Although it was quite some time ago, I imagine it DID have an impact at some point, but as I tweaked other settings and variables, the formula was overpowered by some of those changes and became nothing but excess baggage. This is not all that uncommon of a thing to happen. So it's always a good habit to keep checking the impact of formulas as you add and change other formulas and settings.

Using the same testing sequence and moving on to the next formula, you will find that the _PolyFolding formula does have an impact, as well as the second Amazing Box formula in position 4. Both of these should remain turned on. The fifth formula, _SinePow2, has some impact as well, but not quite as much, but we leave it on for now. The final formula you will find has little to no impact, other than a slight color change, and can be turned off. I doesn't seem to decrease render speed though. For some reason at this point, I went back and checked the impact of all the formulas again. Formula one and six are now turned off. To my surprise, when I got back to the original fifth formula, _SinePow2, and set iterations to zero, it now has no impact and can be left turned off. Now I sent all these changes to the main window and did a preview render. It took 0:04 seconds on my machine. Now we have gone from 1:47 to 0:04 seconds in render time for the preview image, and only a minor noise increase.

As I mentioned there are two ways to change iteration settings, the second as indicated in the second image on the right below. It shows the Formula window and where you can change iterations there. If you do it in the formula window, then you have to reload the parameters in the 3D Navi window to see the change. (Click the Parameter button shown in the yellow box in the first image below.) Sometimes there is nothing you can do to speed up preview render time. Some formulas are just slow. But in this example we had some significant speed gains.

4 by HalTenny  5 by HalTenny



Yeah But We Haven't Even Tweaked It Yet!



Good point! So let's call the above pre-tweaking. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people say parameters are just too slow for them to tweak on their computer, so we solved that problem in this case. It's a start. Next I wanted to quickly cover some tips on DEcombinate and dIFS tweaking. I give a lot of advice through notes, so this is something I addressed in response to someone asking for a little guidance with dIFS...

First many people are put off by using dIFS because it seems too slow to them. To help with this, set the max iterations for your dIFS formulas to between 5 and 10. It's important to note that in DEcombinate mode, you can have your dIFS formulas first, with regular formulas following, or the other way around. So you need to make sure you are setting the lower max iterations for the right part of the hybrid. Those settings are in the bottom left hand side of the formulas window (in DEcombinate mode) as shown in image below. Iterations for non dIFS formulas remain normal, usually from a minimum of 60 to anything higher. I usually have dIFS formulas first, so in the example image below, maxits for hybrid part1: would be 5. Also, you can normally raise the Raystep multiplier in the main window under the calculations tab to 0.3 to 0.5 when using dIFS formulas. These two things vastly improve render speed.

Often when setting these up, I will reset the position and rotation of the image. (Two tabs on top right of main window, click each tab and there are reset buttons there) This resets the image to a center view looking down where the influence of the second part of the DE combinate has the most effect. From there just zoom in, rotate and slide the view for an interesting composition. Also there's another important setting in the formula window. In the red square at the bottom of the image below (at the very top of the square) where it says DE comb: there is a tab with 5 settings in it. They vary the effect the dIFS formulas and regular formulas have on each other. MarkJayBee almost always uses Inv. Max. (Me too!) These setting are something you need to play with to check out what they do. If you just float your cursor over the button, a description will come up.

Also you need to make sure you have the correct setting for where the second part of your hybrid or DE combinate starts! Just to the left of the reset button (top right in formula window) is a setting to set where the second part of the DE combinate starts. So if you have 2 dIFS formulas and one or more regular formulas, then the second part of the DE combinate starts on the third formula and the setting should set to 3... In the image below, I only used one dIFS formula so the second part of the hybrid is set to 2.

6 by HalTenny



Odds And Ends



In my opinion, you shouldn't be totally obsessed with how your final render looks at full (high) resolution. It would be similar to watching your 42 inch flat screen TV from 12 or 18 inches away. There's just no way it's going to look as good and every tiny imperfection will show. Instead, render your image as large as your system allows, or as large as you're willing to wait on (if you're impatient like me) and then either save it with antialiasing or only allow it to be viewed at a lower resolution. That will help smooth edges and eliminate some noise. Obviously, if you want to offer prints of an image, you want it to look as nice as possible. So render very large and use antialiasing or other method to save your image with the same number of pixels in a smaller size image.

In the image below under the viewing tab you can see where you can utilize antialiasing. (Click on top of the 1:1 under Viewing and the dropdown selection appears) Render at whatever size you choose, but before saving the image, select 1:2 aa or 1:3 aa. An image rendered at 3000X and saved at 1:2 aa will end up 1500 X. One saved at 1:3 will end up 1000 X

7 by HalTenny


Don't immediately assume that because the view in the 3D Navi window is terrible, that there is nothing to work with. Many times the Navi window shows a noisy, indistinct image, but there may very well be something nice hidden there. The image on the left below is from the 3D Navi window, the one on the right is from the main preview window. As you can see, there's something nice there worth persuing. :)

8 by HalTenny  9 by HalTenny

To get a good visual sense of distance or fade out in your image, you may have to adjust your far plane setting in the 3D Navi window. (Parameters for this image are at the end of this tutorial.) If your Navi window looks different, you may have to expand the parameter or adjustment panel by clicking the arrows in box #1 in the image below. Now you will see the far plane setting in box #2, it's set to 425.8. You'll want to change this to something pretty low. In the example I changed it to 5. Now you have to load that change into your main preview window by clicking View to main (box #3). Click Calculate 3D in the main window. You won't notice much change yet. The image below on the right shows the lighting panel. Make sure the Ambient tab is selected and adjust the Depth slider to the right, you will see changes similar to what the bottom image below shows. It's a simple thing that will add impact to your image.

10 by HalTenny  11 by HalTenny

12 by HalTenny


I guess that's about it for now. These were just a few things you might run into as you learn the program. Anytime you run into trouble, I'm almost always in Aposhack during the day, US time. :) You can also find help with almost any fractal program there. I also suggest the following tutorials to get you more familiar with the basics of MB3D:

Mandelbulb 3D Tutorial 1 ~
Mandelbulb 3D Tutorial 2 ~
Mandelbulb3D Tutorial 3 ~
Mandelbulb3D Volumetric Light Tutorial

Good luck!

Mandelbulb3Dv18{
g.....h...EZ/...ET...IA..6oGArCYPduA.5eEm2dRwC9ExKQMFDwPV.ohXU4oTX8wzGEtKNsRgd/E
................................bqN590Tt/z1........Y.pyD/......E........y.2...wD
...Uz6/...E0..../s.1/.....Eu1...Y1...2Ee.....gUrQxBopKtD/.EEIb5ELyz5/dkpXm1....U
z..vFVPD12../2UNaNaNa3T/.1......n8.kOaNaNaNOgz1............3.cNaNu1...sD...../..
.w1...sDMCGAAM9C1yPjagAYU64Yz6ztI5zN5IsDtsAJjq8M0yPkuYH/By2XzWuCilZZEhsD.9tBPIL8
FyXWhS6vVTMKzAJfNuKgadsDU....yH9..............kD.6....8E/.G.....................
.............oAnAt1...sD....z.Xcp9................................EEIb5EL....UA.
.....Ksulz1.......kz.IX9c..U..6......I3...EB....7/...A1...EF....4/...g21..EiJJL1
i23U.yoPxJHEGdZ9Hawzc.......0E/.mN5S..UkKZMxkayj6s6QZJdbqz1...........k.C.kYjd2.
.A72QifFDz1.H0/bvOonzC...........6kFzX0Zz1..fjrwdvgqzs/Fbf24LNyD..........E.Gc..
mcV0..kuvBTuCfuj.iySnbiney9..........Al28.EITslB...........83yuedc8tz0.Ra9hwxv.k
/6V0.2FAZ.............klrlkCx9yj.6wTJHz2Vz1..c6Uc/UBkMXB3fUWhl2.Z/aJZJQ3gK8X.g2I
E/pwT6sQL/kIFVoID0nW846.ZJKOdtXCvV4E.k/6M.0VERsUu/.NZdaO/xJX7S6.nAHAnEjO5uLO.UQk
rWQcs3dUU/UeaWee...y3q/bee0k.1AkIJJBc6.8wy5.....................................
E../.MEJF7E.....I....U....EEh3aSdtqNUAJRmN4...........................k/.MU/4.U.
...........BnAnAnAvxz.........yD........kz1......kGB./.......o.k........I.2.....
...........................oAnAnAnAzz........OvD........6y9.....................
...........................3....D....2YEjV5Ig34RdtKRh/..........................
.Q..4MU/....BAk.1AU..wzzzzzzd2zD...........nAnAnAH.wz........6/E................
..ID./................................BnAnAnAnzD......EPV.2.......utz...........
.....................................E....k...../pKMuZaPb/WEjV5.m/..............
............5g..................UNaNaNaiYz1..........kNaNaNaFnzD........kz1.....
.............................................E/k................................
..........................................E.....I....I....kLEx4PtNoPgFK9nZLP.Q5.
..................................................EE./..........................
......................k2S/2.....................................................
.....................................................M.....3....8....woMo34OZFaQ
jtKG4B3..............................MU/4MU/4.........9nAnAnZ..kUyzzzzzLvz1.OaNa
Nahmz.......QZyj................................................................
................................................................0....E/....0....
/pKMuZaPb/mIp7bN..kR........................5.U/4M..0...........gNaNaN4vmz1BnAnA
nAHuz........s1E........Z.2.....................................................
............................................................................}
{Titel: 12-13-1~a}

deviantID

HalTenny
Hal Tenny
United States
I always liked this Gypsy looking fractal, one of the first fractals I made... By the way, I thought it looked like a gypsy because it looked like he had two big ear rings hanging from his ears...

Current Residence: North Carolina
Favourite genre of music: Rock
Operating System: Windows 7
MP3 player of choice: Sansa
Skin of choice: My wife's
Favourite cartoon character: Daffy Duck!
Interests

Comments


Add a Comment:
 
:iconxantipa2:
Hi Hal .... Your wonderful fractals featured here xantipa2.deviantart.com/journa…
:kiss: :wave:
Reply
:iconhaltenny:
I so much appreciate that! Thanks very much :)
Reply
:iconxantipa2:
My pleasure. I like Your work :hug:
Reply
:icon95670:
I commented on another post but I'll say it again...Thank you for all the work you've done sharing what you have learned.
I can see that you live by the old adage that a high tide floats all boats! We all benefit when everyone's art gets better. I learned a long time ago that if one's art depends on a secret, they've only succeeded in painting themselves into a corner.
Being new to fractals your posts...and work, has helped me tremendously. I'm still struggling to get a basic grasp on Mandelbulb and it's difficult for me for sure. Right now my biggest learning curve is navigation. I am so used to 3D scenes and objects but fractals don't really play by the same rules. But I am having a good time.

So cheers to you HalTenny you are much appreciated!

RonB
Reply
:iconhaltenny:
Many thanks Ron. I remember how I struggled learning MB3D, so I'm always glad to help. Just note me if you have any specific questions or problems.
Reply
:iconembeel:
Thank you for the :+fav:s!
Reply
:iconl-a-n-e-r:
L-A-N-E-R Feb 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're fractals are flippin amazing :+devwatch:
Reply
:iconhaltenny:
I really appreciate that, thanks!
Reply
:iconlegendanonymous:
LEGENDANONYMOUS Feb 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
YOU ARE ONE AMAZING ARTIST #1
Reply
:iconhaltenny:
Thank you very much!
Reply
:iconlegendanonymous:
LEGENDANONYMOUS Feb 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
you are most welcome. Do you have any page on Facebook, sir! :D
Reply
:iconhaltenny:
I do, but it's just a general account and not art related. :)
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(1 Reply)
:iconarkadius13:
Thank you for the fav! =)
Reply
:iconhaltenny:
You're welcome!
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:iconathenatt:
Good heavens, what a sexy gallery :flirty:
Reply
:iconhaltenny:
Well thank you, I certainly appreciate it~
Reply
:iconathenatt:
No problem, you're amazing :blowkiss:
Reply
:icontimemit:
timemit Feb 17, 2014  Student Digital Artist
hey .. sup :) 
Reply
:iconhaltenny:
Hi Tim, just taking a break. But I check in every day. :)
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