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DTG: the Journal of Design, Typography & Graphics established 1988 / Design & Graphics / What are Fractals / Possibilities with Fractals / Design with Fractals  

In last month's article, Endless possibilities with fractals, we looked at just a few of the wonderful advantages of fractals. Now, we'll explore how a designer can put fractals to work...

Using a Fractal Effectively in Your Design

By Pam Blackstone, Fractallicious.com

In our two previous articles, we looked at what fractals are and how they're made, along with the benefits they offer you as a designer. Now, we'll be exploring how to incorporate them effectively into your design.

Fractals offer unique possibilities for graphic design useFractals offer unique possibilities for graphic design use. They have great application in print materials, web design, book and magazine illustration, product packaging, fabric and textile design, industrial design, merchandising, and more. They can be used at any size, but they are best output at dimensions where their innate detail can be seen and appreciated. This makes them especially suited for large format layouts, such as posters, signage, or book covers.

When using a fractal as a design centerpiece, let the image speak for itself. Fractal designs can be busy, and it's generally not a good idea to place type directly on the graphic. Place it above, below, or beside the image, like a caption, as in the example above. If you must place type on a fractal, look for an empty part of the design or place the type against a screened back bounding box.

fractal designs can be busy Some fractals feature edge to edge design. Others, as in this example, are output on black or white backgrounds, making it easy to place type. Here, the designer, Suzi Tucker, has used a fractal to create a background for the ICAM website (an online museum about emergent phenomena whose future home will be at emergentuniverse.org).

Tucker notes that she used a fractal in this design because "it visually references science - especially modern, intriguing, complex, unexplained science - while at the same time being artistically beautiful and creating a sense of depth in the image." She wished to appeal both to viewers with an artistic bent and to people with a scientific frame of mind - a job fractals do very well!

Don't limit yourself to thinking two-dimensionally. Fractals are often used in packaging design, especially for consumer electronics and other high-tech products. This example, a contest entry, features two fractals: one is used as a background; the second spruces up the vehicle in the foreground. As you can see, fractals can be wrapped around anything!

Fractal art functions best as the centerpiece or background of your design, but you can also use fractals as accents or repeating motifs. Fractal mandalas are great for this purpose. Scale one small and repeat it as a visual signpost. Fractal swatches can be tiled, making highly unusual borders or backgrounds for textiles, gift wrap, wallpaper, or web sites. Fade fractals into your design or bleed them off the edge. The banner ad at the bottom of this article illustrates this approach.

fractals used in design

In the business card design, a simple fractal spiral has been used as the background. In order to keep the type readable, a screened box has been placed behind the type, with a slight drop shadow to give it that added oomph. The fractal still shows through, but barely. You could achieve a similar result by filling a rectangle with solid color as a backdrop for the type. Either way, be sure you don't obscure the most interesting part of the fractal.

fractals can create an innovative frame Another way to frame type with a fractal is to create empty space by bleeding the fractal off one or more sides, as in the second business card example, here. This is harder to do with photographs or clip art because you'd likely chop off a key element, like someone's head! With a fractal, you can always find an interesting part of the design.

I hope that this series of articles has piqued your curiosity about fractals, and given you some ideas about ways you can use them in your layouts. Please visit us at Fractallicous.com, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at Fractallicious.com

Pam Blackstone
Pam Blackstone, www.fractallicious.com


Pam Blackstone & Fractallicious!

Pam BlackstoneFREE FRACTAL See: Fractallicious.com, the Internet's first royalty-free stock art site specializing EXCLUSIVELY in fractal art. Fractallicious has hundreds of unique images available for download, on a royalty-free, rights managed, and/or extended commercial licensing basis.
* Warm colors for fall and autumn
* Spooky Fractals for Halloween
* Warm and inviting fractals for Thanksgiving in November
* Fun and playful fractals for the Christmas holiday season!

Pam Blackstone Pam Blackstone is a fractal artist who sells her art in open and limited edition prints and greeting cards. She also sells online through stock photography sites, where her fractals have been sourced for projects ranging from book covers and business cards to web design templates and iPod skins. She has felt for some time that this distribution medium does not do the art form justice. For this reason, she recently launched Fractallicious.com, the Internet's first royalty-free stock art site specializing EXCLUSIVELY in fractal art. Fractallicious has hundreds of unique images available for download, on a royalty-free, rights managed, and/or extended commercial licensing basis.
Contact Pam at Fractallicious

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