Mandelbulber is a fractal program with a difference. It moves beyond the usual abstract 2D images to produce amazing 3D fractals, with complex shading, ray-tracing, full lighting control, high resolution support (you can create images larger than 16,000 x 16,000 pixels), even the ability to create custom animations where the camera flies around and into your chosen view.

All this configurability does make for a complex interface, with more than 200 settings and controls spread across multiple tabs. But don't let that put you off: most of the options can be ignored, at least initially, and you can create some great images with very little effort.

Just clicking "Render" gets the process started, with Mandelbulber using its default settings to produce your first fractal. Click the View tab and you're able to manipulate this in 3D space: the left-hand buttons rotate the fractal; the right-hand buttons move your viewpoint; "Forward" zooms in; "Back" zooms out, and "Reset view" returns to the starting point.

Click the "Fractal" tab and choose a new "Fractal formula type" to produce different images. "Polynomic power 2", "FoldingIntPower2", "Smooth Mandelbox" and "Tglad's formula" are great places to start, while "Generalized Mandelbox Fold" manages to create Borg cube-type designs entirely mathematically. (Changing fractal type doesn't alter your view settings, so if you don't see the new fractal after it's been generated, click View > Reset view.)

As you zoom into these images, so you might want them to become more detailed. Click the Engine tab and try increasing the "Detail level" and "Max iterations".

The "Image" tab is useful, too. Here you can increase the image resolution, tweak brightness and contrast, as well as save your fractal as a JPG or PNG for sharing with others later.

And finally, if you're working on a really interesting fractal but have run out of time, click "Save Settings" to save the current Mandelbulber configuration, and "Load Settings" next time to restore it.

What is new?
- Image: Added stereoscopic rendering for all perspective types including equirectangular and fulldome
- Image: Added support for red/cyan glasses (anaglyphs), so now it's possible to explore fractals with 3D glasses.
- Added new fractal formulas:
  * Menger - Prism Shape
  * Benesi Mag Transforms
  * Transform - Folding Tetra3D
  * Pseudo Kleinian stdDE
  * Pseudo Kleinian
  * Pseudo Kleinian Mod1

- UI: added option to synchronize changing of image resolution with fractal detail level
- UI: Increased number of decimal places for many edit fields in fractal formulas
- UI: Added preview for Julia constant
- Fractals: Enhanced controls for colors in several formulas
- Fractals: Implemented initial w-axis value for 4D fractals
- Fractals: Corrected logic for maxiter in ray-marching algorithm. Now distance threshold has higher priority than maxiter.
- Fractals: Added second bailout condition which detects convergent sequence of z
- Fractals: Added "Delta DE pseudo kleinian" distance estimation function
- Shaders: Added Monte Carlo algorithm for DOF effect
- Shaders: There was wrong calculation of auxiliary lights intensity
- Shaders: Corrected calculation of displacement maps for first fractal in boolean mode
- Shaders: Added support for 16-bit depth PNG textures
- NetRender: Corrected sending information to server about ready state. Sometimes when animation was rendered, the served didn't wait until all clients finishes their jobs. .
after rendering is finished
- Settings: added description field to settings files.
- Performance: In DOF there is changed OpenMP parallel loop to use dynamic scheduling (much better utilization of CPU cores)
- Performance: optimized isNaN checking by usage gsl implementation
- Performance: Added setting for limit of used CPU cores in preferences dialog
- Performance: Added threads priority settings in preferences dialog for WIN32 version
- Compilation: Added scripts which pulls development version of Mandelbulber from git repository, setups the system and compiles the program.
- Tray: added icon on system tray with start/stop controls
- Tray: added system notifications about finished rendering
- General: Added support for any aspect ratio for equirectangular images (before was only 2:1)
- General: Fixed bug which probably caused crashes of the program. There was possible situation where image was being updated by rendering thread and at the same time preview was resized (free and alloc) by main thread (resize of window). There is added QMutex to prevent from this kind of situation.

Verdict ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings

Mandelbulber is a hugely powerful fractal generator with an astonishing number of features, yet recent updates mean it's now also very accessible for beginners.