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:iconfractalblaze:
1) Beginner fractal artists usually allow "the machine" to guide them, as they learn about the process of creating fractals. True fractal artists use the programs as a tool, like a paintbrush. They see the shape the fractal begins to take, and they guide it (via settings and manipulation) until it fulfills their artistic vision.

2. Some fractal creators never have a vision- they simply press buttons until they like the result. This is the machine and chance/randomness at work. Others consider factors like camera angle, color pattern, shape, and theme, and they manipulate the fractal to become what they want, and they know when they are done. They are more artistic in their approach.

3. That depends on the programs that the fractal creator uses. Some programs need patience and an artistic eye. Apophysis has plenty of settings, but allows for custom scripts. Sterling has math settings, but knowing what the "7th Order Newton mset" is won't really help you use it as much as just trying it.

I am a fractal artist, and a programmer. I haven't mixed the two yet. Check out my gallery!
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