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    In 2005, I was asked by Grace Farquhar, founder of the Visual Arts Academy, if I would be interested in teaching an online course on the use of Ultra Fractal. Because there was very little guidance available for new users at that time, I jumped at the chance to share what I'd learned over the years.I had already written the tutorials that come with the software, but they are more like recipes that walk the user through creating sample images — they don't really explain the concepts in depth, nor show the user how to approach creating images on their own. What was needed, I thought, was a basic explanation of how fractals work, and a comprehensive (yet comprehensible) method for exploring the various formulas and layering techniques available.

    Before I'd finished writing the first couple of lessons of Working with Ultra Fractal, I realized that I had much more information than could be taught in the 7-week semester. And the first group of students were eager to continue learning, so I began writing the second course, Ultra Fractal Masking Techniques, which is an in-depth exploration of using transparency and mask layers to create special effects.

    As the students' appetite for information and challenge seemed endless, I let them talk me into writing a third course: Ultra Fractal Artistry. At that time, in early 2006, discussions of artistic principles in fractal art were confined to casual conversations in mailing lists and online communities; nothing formal had been written. Although I was unsure of my qualifications to write this seminal treatise, I was full of ideas and opinions that I'd developed in my own work process. By the time I'd finished writing the third course, the series comprised 1000 pages (if printed), illustrated with over 900 images, containing pretty much everything I've learned and the techniques I've developed since I began working with Ultra Fractal in 1998.

    View the course outline and sample chapter here!

    From the beginning, I designed the courses to include material and assignments that would both introduce the concepts to beginners and challenge veterans to get more out of their own work. My goal wasn't to make anyone a master in 6 months, nor to teach others how to make images in my style, but to plant seeds of knowledge and introduce a method for exploration that students could then use on their own. I've watched absolute beginners progress through all three courses with an impressive growth and mastery. And I've watched many veterans (some of whom were making fractal art before I knew what a fractal was) find inspiration and develop new techniques and approaches at nearly every step along the way.

    Amazingly, student response to all three courses has been overwhelming and positive. My beginning courses were always sold-out before each semester started, and a majority of the students continued through the 2nd and 3rd courses. Unfortunately, the demands of my full-time job have increased and I no longer have time in my life to give the personal attention that VAA students came to expect. So, after more than four years and nearly 400 students, I needed to find an alternative to teaching the courses online.

    Students' comments:

    I am pleased to announce that password-protected online texts for each of the three courses are now available for purchase.

    View the course outline and sample chapter here!

    Buy the course now!


    Category: How-to...