Creating On A Limited Budget Part 5 of 5

Welcome back to “Creating On A Limited Budget”; a guide to using low-cost and free software that can help you to create professional quality art without breaking the bank.

This is the 5th (and final) installment of this series and I’ll explore three images created using the free 3D fractal generator Mandelbulber .

Mandelbulber’s unique objects combined with the plug-ins featured in part 4 of this series can produce unusual and spectacular results. You don’t have to be a math genius to use Mandelbulber. I know I’m not. I learned it by reading the online documentation, a bit of experimental tinkering and some practice.

The way I see it…if I can learn Mandelbulber, anyone can.

Click on the thumbnail images for a larger view of each step.


“Moonrise On Cygnus 4” was my first attempt to incorporate a Mandelbulber fractal into a space art themed image. One of the best features of this program is that it allows you to save a render along with an alpha mask of the object for use in an image editor like Corel PhotoPaint.  The base render for this image is shown below (figure 1).

Moonrise On Cygnus 4 01_base image

Figure 1: Moonrise On Cygnus 4
Mandelbulber Render

I imported the base render into PhotoPaint  and created a moon object layer with Lunar Cell. You’ll notice that I’ve kept the texturing of the moon’s surface to a minimum and set the layer property to “screen” mode to allow it to blend into the atmosphere (figure 2).

Moonrise On Cygnus 4 02_moon

Figure 2: Moonrise On Cygnus 4
Moon Layer

Creating a new layer (also set to “screen” mode) I used Glitterato to introduce a soft foggy haze (figure 3).


Figure 3: Moonrise On Cygnue 4
Haze Layer

I inserted the alpha channel of the fractal render to overlay the scene and the image was complete (figure 4).

Moonrise On Cygnus 4 04_overlay_final image

Figure 4: Moonrise On Cygnus 4
Overlay Layer
Final Image


Cygnus 4 so intrigued me that I had to do a second image.

I didn’t want to do another landscape so I decided on a view from orbit.

This image was tricky because I had to isolate a “floating” element of a Mandelbulber fractal with an unusual shape and texture making it truly alien in appearance. I managed to find an interesting element, rendered it with an alpha mask and imported it into PhotoPaint (figure 1).

The Cygnus 4 Anomaly 01_base image

Figur 1: The Cygnus 4 Anomaly
Mandelbulber Render

I added a star field layer using Universe Image Creator (figure 2).

The Cygnus 4 Anomaly 02_star field

Figure 2: The Cygnus 4 Anomaly
Star Field Layer

Though Cygnus 4 had a “fossilized” landscape in the first image, I imagined it would look like an Earth-like planet from orbit. A third layer was added using a Lunar Cell planet (figure 3).  A 4th layer added a Lunar Cell moon (figure 4). I also duplicated the base render and applied it in “screen” mode to the top of the image as an aid in proper placement of the planet and moon.

he Cygnus 4 Anomaly 03_planet

Figure 3: The Cygnus 4 Anomaly
Planet Layer

The Cygnus 4 Anomaly 04_moon

Figure 4: The Cygnus 4 Anomaly
Moon Layer

I removed the duplicate layer of the base render, added an alpha channel overlay of the fractal and the image was complete (figure 5).

The Cygnus 4 Anomaly 05_overlay_final image

Figure 5: The Cygnus 4 Anomaly
Overlay Layer
Final Image

What is this object ?

Why does it orbit Cygnus 4?

Who (or what) put it there?

Your guess is as good as mine…


And now for something completely alien…

The landscape of “By The Light Of A Distant Moon” is so completely unusual and exotic that only a picture can do it justice.

When I discovered this scene in a Mandelbulber fractal, I was amazed by the variety of shapes and textures. It was as if I was viewing a real alien world from my computer screen.

I rendered the fractal with an alpha channel and imported it into PhotoPaint (figure 1).

By The Light Of A Distant Moon 01_base image

Figure 1: By The Light Of A Distant Moon
Mandelbulber Render

I added a star field layer with Universe Image Creator(figure 2).

By The Light Of A Distant Moon 02_star field

Figure 2: By The Light Of A Distant Moon
Star Field Layer

Next I created a moon object in Bryce with a cracked. frozen surface and duplicated the direction of light to match the effects in the fractal image. I rendered the moon, created a mask of it and imported them both into the PhotoPaint image (figure 3).

By The Light Of A Distant Moon 03_moon

Figure 3: By The Light Of a Distant Moon
Moon Layer

Addition of the alpha channel overlay of the fractal completed the image (figure 4).

By The Light Of A Distant Moon 04_overlay_final image

Figure 4: By The Light Of A Distant Moon
Overlay Layer
Final Image

“By The Light Of A Distant Moon” is my favorite space art image using a Mandelbulber fractal.

It’s also an excellent example of how low-cost and free programs can be used to create visually striking images suitable for publication.

I certainly enjoyed sharing my creative process with you and I hope you found the information offered in this series useful.

As always, your comments and critiques are encouraged.




4 thoughts on “Creating On A Limited Budget Part 5 of 5

      • Thanks for this! I started using Paintshop Pro X6 and the Flaming Pear plugins the other day, but I didn’t know about Mandelbulb. You might be interested to know that Filter Forge is on sale (only 1 day left! Pro is $80, Standard is $50) and there are a lot of planet/space/terrain plugins people have made for it that you can use inside a paint program (has Adobe and Corel plugins, and stand alone), including one that makes ringed gas giants.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve always wanted Filter Forge but never got around to purchasing it. Perhaps now is the time to take the plunge.

          Thanks for the heads-up Kris!!

          Very Best Regards,


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