Ego Palace concept by Sam Milchamp, courtesy of Marvel, based on artwork by Hal Tenny

Hal Tenny’s Fractal Art in Guardians of the Galaxy 2


Nominated for the “Best Achievement in Visual Effects” 2018 Oscar Award, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 prominently features 3D fractal art created by Hal Tenny using Mandelbulb3D software. This pioneering use of mandelbulb art is a first for any Hollywood movie. Hal’s MB3D work was used to create some of the most complex digital environments in the history of film. The GOTG2 team used fractal geometry in a way that has never before been attempted. We hope this translates into an Oscar win by GOTG2 and, by extension, our friend Hal. Either way, it has been very exciting to see such a worldwide audience exposed to Mandelbulb3D creations and the beauty of 3D fractals.

Hal is one of the first artists we profiled on this site, and is a well known, well respected, and very talented MB3D creator. He is an influential long-term contributor to the 3D fractal art groups on DeviantArt and Facebook and has produced some of the best software tutorials for Mandelbulb3D, several of which we’ve featured on this site as well.

In advance of the Academy Awards, we reached out to Hal for his thoughts on the experience of working with the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 creative team. He sent a thoughtful, eloquent response (he’s an author as well so we expected nothing less) and a gorgeous gallery of images from the creative development process. Rather than summarize his statement, here are his own words.

Hal Tenny on the process of contributing Mandelbulb3D art to GOTG2:

Late in 2015, I was contacted by the supervising art director for Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 and asked if I would like to work as a visual consultant on the film. In total I sent Marvel over 300 concept images and 25 OBJ models that were concepts for designs they were looking for, including: Ego’s palace interior and exterior, exterior landscape, the underworld tunnels and caves, and egos core. Much of the VFX house’s work was based on parameters I sent as examples of the structures.

One of the VFX houses actually used a technique similar to one of Don Whitaker’s videos (from 6 years ago!) where he created different rotated views of a MB3D structure, saved each image and then used a utility to take photos to create a highly detailed 3d model.

The Director, James Gunn, and the Production Manager, Scott Chambliss had both scoured the internet for ideas for the Palace design and Ego planet, and I was fortunate enough to catch their eye. There are many, many excellent Mandelbulb 3D artists, a few of which were also approached from what I understand. I was just lucky (I think) that some of my work was unique and quirky enough to appeal to them for what they had in mind.

It was all possible because of those that searched for the incredible 3d mandelbulb, and the outstanding Mandelbulb 3D program created by Jesse Dierks and the input he received at Fractal Forums. And from there it was the extraordinary amount of time I had (because I was retired) to learn the program and bring my fantasy images to life.

The following selection of images show some of Hal’s inspiration pieces and some concept designs from the GOTG2 team. They are used here with permission.


Following is a selection of press about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that mentions Hal and Mandelbulb3D, including an interview with director James Gunn:

Our thanks again to Hal for his input for this piece, and for his great contributions to the field. (FYI: you can buy a piece of his art here) We’ve got our fingers crossed for an Oscar win. And we expect to see much more mandelbulb art on the big screen as time goes on.

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