Start New Discussion within our Software Development Community

Let mathematics do your art work! It is amazing how a simple mathematical formula can draw very intricate shapes. Here we draw a fractal tree on a Python Image Library (PIL) blank image, and save the finished drawing as an image file in one of the popular formats. Look at the image file externally, or call up the default image viewer associated with this image format from within the program, and view the result.

For added fun, you may want to try to modify the formula to create other images.

# draw a fractal tree using PIL, code adopted from:
# http://www.math.union.edu/research/fractaltrees/
# Python Image Library (PIL) free from:
# http://www.pythonware.com/products/pil/index.htm
# tested with Python24 and PIL115    vegaseat   25jun2006

import os
import math

# needs Python Image Library (PIL)
import Image, ImageDraw

def fractal_tree(iter, origin, t, r, theta, dtheta):
    """
    returns a list of line begin/end coordinate tuples
    iter:     iteration number, stop when iter == 0
    origin:   x,y coordinates of the start of this branch
    t:        current trunk length
    r:        factor to contract the trunk each iteration
    theta:    starting orientation
    dtheta:   angle of the branch
    """
    if iter == 0:
        return []
    x0, y0 = origin
    x, y = x0 + t * math.cos(theta), y0 + t * math.sin(theta)
    lines = [((x0,y0), (x,y))]
    # recursive calls
    lines.extend(fractal_tree(iter-1, (x,y), t * r, r, theta + dtheta, dtheta))
    lines.extend(fractal_tree(iter-1, (x,y), t * r, r, theta - dtheta, dtheta))
    return lines

def draw_lines(lines, width=320, height=250):
    """draw and return the fractal tree image"""
    # create empty white image to draw on
    image1 = Image.new("RGB", (width, height), (255, 255, 255))
    draw = ImageDraw.Draw(image1)
    for line in lines:
        draw.line(line, (0, 0, 0))
        #print line  # test
    return image1

# test the functions ...
if __name__ == '__main__':
    # angle to radian factor
    ang2rad = math.pi/180.0
    
    # experiment with number of iterations (try 4 to 16)
    iter = 14
    # experiment with trunk length (try 100)
    t = 120
    # experiment with factor to contract the trunk each iteration (try 0.65)
    r = 0.65
    # starting orientation (initial 90 deg)
    theta = 90.0 * ang2rad
    # experiment with angle of the branch (try 60 deg)
    dtheta = 60.0 * ang2rad
    # center of top
    origin = (200, 0)
    
    lines = fractal_tree(iter, origin, t, r, theta, dtheta)
    
    # change width and height as needed ...
    width = 400
    height = 300
    image1 = draw_lines(lines, width, height)
    
    # use PIL's show, internally saves a temporary bitmap file, then calls the default viewer
    # (the problem: these bitmap files are large and accumulate in one of the temp directories)
    #imgage1.show()
    
    # or ...

    # save as .png .jpg .gif or .bmp file
    # (the .png format gives the smallest file size)
    filename = "fractaltree.jpg"
    image1.save(filename)
    
    # ... and view the saved file, works with Windows only
    # behaves like double-clicking on the saved file
    os.startfile(filename)
    
    """
    # another way to activate the default viewer associated with the image
    # might work on more platforms
    import webbrowser
    webbrowser.open(filename)
    """
The article starter has earned a lot of community kudos, and such articles offer a bounty for quality replies.