While playing with the computer fractal program "Apophysis" I came up with this little design:
Actually I can't find the original that I started with and it was much cruder than this copy and what you see is the result of a significant amount of time tinkering with all of the variables to get the tendrils, overall shape and color the way I wanted. I saw potential in this design and wanted to develop it further. I rotated the image to put the tendrils on the right side toward the bottom.
When I'm playing with digital art programs, if I see something of interest I save it into some category I've decided upon. For Apophysis one of those categories I use is 'Leaves'. I save anything that might look like a leaf into that file so that I can use it in the future. I do that with any art program, so I have tons of little files with the seeds of an artwork or a composite in them. Most will never be used but it's a terrific aide when needed. It's a good way for me to store artistic concepts for use as a possible future artwork. So I opened the Leaves flame file and picked out a few that I liked from my stock. Since Apo lets you copy colors, I took the color from the original design and applied it to the leaves. Then I adjusted the colors as I saw fit.
I imported everything into Photoshop into separate layers, erased parts of them, added more leaves onto other layers, and adjusted their size and position. When working in Apo, I had saved each Apo image for this artwork as a transparency so that working with layers in Photoshop would be easier. Several of the Photoshop layers were too washed out as a result. To cure that, I simply created duplicate layers which intensified the look of each layer. It also intensifies any noise and so it requires some careful erasing.
What I was trying to create was a fractal-looking tree. I decided to go biblical and name this artwork "Tree of Knowledge", therefore I needed an apple. So I created an apple with another 3D program. I wanted the color to be apple-like, similar to the tree color, but different enough to make it stand out. I also didn't want it to look like a fractal, but neither did I want it to look like a picture perfect apple. So I created the apple and then fiddled around with its size and the best spot to place it. I had to alter the tree design slightly and place a little leaf branch for the apple to hang from.
The apple needed a bit more, and so I decided to give it a little focus with some background radiance made with Apo. I tried several sizes, looks and color variations until I came up with something that supported the appearance of the apple but also fit in generally with the color scheme. It also made the edges of the apple appear not so hard against the background. The end result is that the apple seems to have some energy or life force.
It isn't particularly a great idea to put a significant focal point so close to the center of a piece of art, but in this case I think it works.
For the overall art, I tried different color backgrounds, but black seemed to work best. I don't really care for plain backgrounds so I reviewed some of the background images that I had previously saved. I picked one out, copied the color from the tree, adjusted the Apo variables until I got what I wanted, and saved the result as a transparency. I then copied the file into Photoshop and tweaked the size, position and layer transparency. I wanted just enough variation in the background to keep it fom being plain without detracting from the tree. I liked this background because it almost looks wooden.