Sunday, July 10th, 2011...7:48 pm

A random planet

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My online Loci article Mountains of Fractals allows readers to create fractal coastlines, fractal islands, and fractal mountains. One such mountain is pictured below.

The 3D images are stunning and could even seem to overshadow the 2D counterparts. However, 2D fractal landscapes have their own important place in computer graphics. Suppose in a movie a spaceship flies over a distance planet. How is the surface of that planet created? You can take a 2D fractal landscape and then wrap it around a 3D computer-generated sphere. This is what I decided to do from scratch!

My first step was to make 2 fractal islands using the interactive programs from the aforementioned article. I took screenshots of each image and then placed them into one image, as seen below.

Note, I’m not sure the image needs such a rectangular aspect ratio. I tried this first and was pleased with the results and simply left it.

Next, I simply needed to wrap it around a 3D sphere set in space. Luckily, I’m familiar with POV-Ray, a free raytracing program. I used the following code, where my image was labeled planet2.jpg:

#include ""
#include ""

camera {
location <-1, 1.2, -6>
look_at <0,0,0>
angle 35

light_source { <500,500,-1000> White }
light_source { <-500,500,-1000> White }

image_map {
jpeg "planet2.jpg"
map_type 1
interpolate 2

sphere {
<0, 0, 0>, 1
texture {Starfield1}
finish {ambient 1 diffuse 0}
scale 100000

So, how did I do? You judge for yourself. In fact, try it yourself and see if you can create a better image! You could remove the blue and replace it with a more realistic image of water. Or…If you give it a try, I’d enjoy seeing your planet!



  1. Creating Digital Landscapes « Mr Honner

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