I’ve recently been experimenting with a freeware app called Mandelbulb 3d, the version I’m using for the Mac is 1.8.9. Over the last week, I’ve discovered the use of the app’s Big Render option, which is just what it sounds — it allows the generation of really huge images, by rendering them piece by piece in m3i files, as tiles, and they may then be assembled into one large whole by one’s software of choice. I’ll describe how I rendered them below, after some video tutorials for the program’s basic operation. These videos are by Don Whitaker, and the software may be found here:
Following are some screenshots of the settings I used to create it. Figure 1 is the main rendering window, the Lighting window is shown twice in Figures 2 & 3 for each the color settings used, the Formulas window is shown twice, Figures 4 & 5, for each of the two fractal types used and the means of combining them (They make up a hybrid fractal type, and those are always fun!). Figure 6 shows the Julia set coordinates used for this image (I used the “Julia on” option for this parameter set, because Julia sets are cool.).
But where to find the button that opens the Big Render window? Note Figure 1, at the top of the window. Under the “Utilities” tab, Big Render is the second button from the left. Click on that after rendering the base image once all its parameters are assigned and calculated. You are then ready to begin. Figure 1 was snapped during the rendering of the tile from column and row X=3 Y=1.
Note figure 7. Once you open it, note the button at the top right, “Import actual paras” clicking this will load the parameters of the base image. Here you see the Original parameter size given at 800 x 600 pixels. I did this to keep rendering time relatively reasonable, rather than using some giant monster base image that takes more than 30 minutes to render each individual tile.
Size factor as entered as x3, which would enlarge the fully assembled image to 2400 x 1800 pixels. Just above that, you see a “Big size” shown at 1200 x 900, assuming anti-aliasing at a factor of 2, which I did not use for this experiment, so that counts not. This winds up as the full scale indicated by the Size factor.
“Tiling” shows 4 horizontal x 4 vertical tiles, or 16 total. Note that each may be raised or lowered by clicking the upper or lower buttons to their immediate right, increasing the number of tiles and so rows and columns in the matrix of tiles to the right of Figure 7.
The Tilesize (including anti-aliasing, again if I were using that, which I’m not) is given as 300 x 225. All this means that the actual tile size during rendering is 600 x 450 pixels each.
Just below that, at “Saving:” the “Tile downscale, anti-aliasing” setting, shows here a value of 2. This too may be raised or lowered, as may the “sharp” setting, which I’m leaving at zero. No anti-aliasing needed here, though I recommend it for clearer images with cleanly defined edges and surfaces.
“Output image type” has three buttons, one for PNG files, one for JPEG, and one for BMP files. Here, I chose JPEG, though I’ve left JPEG quality at 95%. Meh!
Under “Output image type” I’ve clicked on Save m3i files. Do that, as it saves the parameters for each tile when it’s completely rendered and shaded in a file.
I’ve also clicked on “Render all tiles included in the lines:” and left the numbers here alone, from 1 to 999. Don’t worry about how high that last set of digits is as the app will stop rendering automatically upon completing the last tile on the last row and column.
Once you save the project in an appropriate folder, using the “Save project” button, second from the left at the top of the window, you are ready to begin.
Now click “Render next tile,” and the process will begin, generating m3i parameter files for each tile in the project folder you’ve saved. These files are just like the normal parameter files for MB3D, and like them may be opened and exported as image files using the main app.
One last thing: Look again to the right in Figure 7, the set of 16 tile boxes. When rendering and shading is complete, each tile box turns from grey to white to indicate when it’s done, until all are complete. You can see that here, 11 tiles are fully rendered. Make sure you re-save the project once all files are rendered so you don’t lose them.
You may halt the rendering process at any point and save the project again, given at least one or more fully complete tiles, and then reopen the project later to pick up where you left off on unfinished ones.
This allows you to space rendering extremely large images with many tiles over a long period. Try to keep the base image size and number of tiles to be rendered reasonable, or the project well may take several days or longer to finish!
This evening, at 18:00 EST, I’ll be taking down this blog’s About page to fix a major issue in viewing the text that was recently pointed out to me by a canny reader. I’ll be working on all of the page’s embedded images to revise the compatibility of text font with image backgrounds to enhance readability. That counts for more than any passing visual appeal. The page will be online again when revision is complete.