The Matryoshka Concept


Matryoshka is a software for having fun with photo-montage using geometric fractals. It is suitable for both adults and children and is child's play to use. Despite it's simplicity it is capable of creating sophisticated and beautiful effects. Even professional artists will appreciate it's possibilities.

It is designed to repeat a cut-out image as a geometric fractal pattern over a background image. It features a very simple mouse-oriented interface for creating fractal rules, which can then be applied one (generation) layer at a time to the artists satisfaction. Unlike most fractal software, there is no need to input any numeric figures. So it is very non-technical, and anyone should be able to learn how to use it in 10 or 15 mins.

Educational Value

Matryoshka serves as an excellent introduction to digital art in general and children can intuitively learn about many concepts in geometry. See also the page on Educational Value which goes into more detail.

Matryoshka Dolls

From Wikipedia

(How to Pronounce Matryoshka)

Matryoshka nested dolls are a good metaphor for the basic concept of this software. You choose a subject-image which can be thought of as the "great-mother", who then gives birth to one or more daughters. The image gallery has examples of the following subject-images:

  • An amber jewel
  • A soap bar
  • A machine cog
  • A buddha statue
  • A sea shell
  • A "Love" logo
  • A crystal
  • A flower with 5 petals

The software allows you to place the first generation of daughters around the mother at different scales and angles relative to the mother. To use a tree analogy: the great-mother is the trunk of the tree, and the daughters are the branches.

A Tree of Dolls

Once you are happy with the layout, then the fun starts. You switch to the "Generation view" and there is a button to spawn a new generation of daughters, who become grandchildren of the initial mother. These grandchildren are arranged in the same way around their mother as the first generation of daughters. As you add more generations, the image becomes more and more complex as the picture fills up with many daugthers to make an interesting pattern.

The Mother Image

The mother image which is repeated is usually a cutout of some object like a doll or a leaf or anything else you would like to use. To create a cutout you can use a graphics program like PhotoShop to make one. But an easier option is to use Google image search. First search for a subject of interest. Then filter out the ones that are not cutouts by clicking on the Tools option and selecting the color as being Transparent. After you download the image, the file name should end with .png and not .jpeg. JPEG images cannot be transparent. Only PNG images are useable as a subject.

Transparent Image Search

The Background

You can use any image as the background and can be either in the JPEG or PNG format. This background then becomes the canvas on which the mother and daughter cutouts are drawn. But initially when you are laying out the daughters around the great-mother the background is not visible.

Generation Layers

Each new generation of daughters is layered on top of the previous one, so within 3 or 4 generations you may find that you can no longer see the great-mother. But there is an option button to reverse the layers, so the great-mother is always the top most layer, and each successive generation is drawn underneath. See the gallery of images for some examples.

Fading Effects

To make the final picture more interesting you can apply some fading effects so that each generation of daughters is drawn with a see-through "ghosting effect". As the each new generation is applied, the effect become stronger and stronger, so that last generation may be hardly visible at all. Or you can reverse the order of the effect, so that the great-mother looks like a ghost, and successive generations become more and more opaque. See the image gallery for some examples.

"Ghostly" Dolls

Saving your Work

After you have created a picture you can save it as a project file. But you can also export the finished picture as a JPEG image to share on social media.

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