# Fractal Colorings

Last time, we saw some fairly primitive images of the Mandelbrot set. In particular, the coloring scheme was somewhat gaudy — there were noticeable discrete bands in all the images. The reason for this was in the code, where I had set the value of each pixel to be whichever integer we escaped at, creating a discrete range of possibilities. Luckily, there are fancier methods of coloring which smooth out these discontinuities. While there are a ton of different implementations out there, I’m just going to mention two: Hubbard-Douady Potential, and the Normalized Iteration Count.

In the Hubbard-Douady method, we treat the Mandelbrot set as though it is an electric field and consider the corresponding electric potential that it induces. This function turns out to be $$\phi(z) = \lim_{n \rightarrow \infty} \frac{\log|z_n|}{2^n}$$, where $$z_n$$ is the value of $$z$$ after $$n$$ iterations. So one option for smoother coloring is to assign to pixel $$z$$ the value of $$\phi(z)$$, or an approximation for a large value of $$n$$. Here’s an example. In the Normalized Iteration Count, we try to come up with a corresponding continuum to the different integer range that we had specified before. There are a few variants of this formula, but the simplest is given by mapping each point $$z$$ to the real number $$r = n \ – \log_2\left(\frac{\log|z_n|}{\log R}\right)$$, where $$R$$ is the bailout radius and $$z_n$$ is the first iteration value that escapes the disk of radius $$R$$ centered at the origin. (One way to understand this is to see that this is equivalent to choosing a real value $$r$$ which satisfies $$\frac{\log R}{2^r} = \frac{\log|z_n|}{2^n}$$.) This formula will give us real numbers $$r$$ in the interval $$[0, n)$$ so that upon division by $$n$$ we get a standard color mapping. Here are a couple examples.  Finally, here’s another spinning Julia video, but with a continuously modified smooth color scheme. I’ve mostly used my own variant of the Hubbard-Douady method in this particular piece.