“Real time design and animation of fractal plants and trees” by Oppenheimer

  • ©Peter E. Oppenheimer




    Real time design and animation of fractal plants and trees



    The goal of science is to understand why things are the way they are. By emulating the logic of nature, computer simulation programs capture the essence of natural objects, thereby serving as a tool of science. When these programs express this essence visually, they serve as an instrument of art as well.This paper presents a fractal computer model of branching objects. This program generates pictures of simple orderly plants, complex gnarled trees, leaves, vein systems, as well as inorganic structures such as river deltas, snow flakes, etc. The geometry and topology of the model are controlled by numerical parameters which are analogous to the organism’s DNA. By manipulating the genetic parameters, one can modify the geometry of the object in real time, using tree based graphics hardware. The random effects of the environment are taken into account, to produce greater diversity and realism. Increasing the number of significant parameters yields more complex and evolved species.The program provides a study in the structure of branching objects that is both scientific and artistic. The results suggest that organisms and computers deal with complexity in similar ways.


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