So, What/Who is ApopheniaInc?

•October 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

0 Sketchbook Gareth Sleightholme hesir

Apophenia Inc is the digital online sketchbook for:

Gareth Sleightholme (AKA hesir) - an Illustrator, Scenographer and Creative Consultant who has generated Concept Art and Production Design for the Visitor Attraction, Exhibition and Leisure industry, Historical and Heritage Illustration & Design Work for Museum and Archaeology Services for two decades; who is currently lecturing in Games Design & Animation.

Contact - mob 07403861838 – or email

0 Gareth Sleightholme - hesir

Apopheniathe cognitive experience of discovering, or becoming aware of, meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data where there was no prior or causal connection – Coined by Klaus Conrad in 1958, as the “unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness”.

Sometimes known as Patternicity – The self-convincing perception of patterns or connections where none actually exist. Most psychologists agree that this condition exists in everyone to some degree; it is a bias of the human mind.

I believe it plays a fundamental part in the act of “creativity“. “Inc.” or “inc.”, abbreviation of “incorporated”… Sounds a bit like ink.

I’m currently working on my Masters Degree Study looking in particular at Visualisation of Educational Concepts for Art School Students, and links between Reading, Empathy and Creativity as well as Developing Concept Art for an Empathy/Games based research project called Rabbit Heart.

I’m generating artwork for the follow up issues to my 2012 self-published comic debut – “The Indian Fighter” – (The Cthulhiad Book 1).

I also occasionally produce Posters for Theatre and Music Events as well as freelancing for the Leisure/Visitor Attraction & Heritage markets.

…plus, you can find my observational drawings in and around my home city over at the Hull Urban Sketchers project pages on Facebook.

Please, take look around the blog and let me know what you think.

Oh, and we (Iron-Shod Ape Comics) are at ThoughtBubble again this year… Come by our table, we will look like this:

Thoughtbubble 2013 A




Trinity Games Tech Project, back in Holy Trinity Church

•September 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It’s great to hear good feedback on student projects.

Today I received a call from a guy who had spoken with the BA(Hons) Games Design students as they show cased their Paragon’s Past and Oculus Rift – Heritage project at Hull’s History Centre as part of the Archives That Inspire exhibition.

He praised the students knowledge and ability to explain their process and working methods, even how they handled gaps in the available research, and felt compelled to call to say as much, whilst voicing a possibility of another venue that might be able to showcase the work.

Great praise indeed, and well done to the students for engendering that kind of response.

Couldn’t be happier.

Another way praise and success can be registered is by being asked to come back, and that’s just what has happened with the Trinity Project.

Trinity 001

Currently back on display before the Chancel, the project was created by last years graduate students as part of their Year 2 Interactive Environments project.

Trinity Church x02

All part of Holy Trinity‘s Heritage Open days celebrations, which will include special services as well as music and other events.

Trinity Church x01

You can find the Trinity Project reconstruction video fly-through below… or go see it in the space itself, well worth the trip out (and whilst out and about, you can go see the Paragon’s Past project too, of course!).


New Exhibition of HSAD Games Design Student Work

•September 2, 2014 • 1 Comment

For just over a week, students from the HSAD Games Design BA (Hons) have been exhibiting work at Hull’s History Centre, along with students from the BA (Hons) Fashion as part of the city’s commemoration of the centenary of the start of the First World War.


“Paragon’s Past is a client related heritage project undertaken by the second year Games design students of Hull School of Art and Design. Charged with the task of creating an interactive environment centred on Hull’s Paragon Station and the surrounding area during the early stages/the lead up to WW1.

Paragon Interior

“Our goal for Paragon’s Past has been to create an accurate and “immersive” environment which is a recreation of Paragon Station and the surrounding area in the year of 1914. We achieved this by creating a 3D simulated environment using the programs such as; 3DS Max (3D Studio Max) used for producing 3D models, Photoshop for “texturing” and UDK (Unreal
Development Kit) as a game engine for building the environment. Our aim was to immerse the audience in the environment which we created to be as historically accurate as possible whilst incorporating the interactivity and immersion so important to contemporary media.

Oculus Rift Test

We are also experimenting with the Oculus Rift which is a virtual reality headset which will place the user into the actual scene, and this functionality will be available to be experienced by the public in the up coming exhibitions and showcases. This headset also has the ability to remove the need for a monitor or TV and reduce the amount of space required for the display.

All together

We also have several other ideas on how we can display the final product, a fly through which will be playing along side the headset on a large flatscreen.

The fly through can have different variations that can be shown at different times for different audiences, for example an educational fly through in which supplementary text is added throughout the fly through giving a more informational experience on the history of the area to the viewer.

This would all be supported by booths with historical information and visuals of our design process; as well as other supporting material online.”

Hull School of Art & Design BA (Hons) Games Design students:

Adam Brown; Alex Shevchenko; Barrie Briggs; Christopher Greaves;
Craig Overton; Ethan Douglas; James Cook; Jamie Fitzgerald; Mark
Shaw; Matt Lane; Nathan Ritchie; Reece Harrison; Ryan Glover;
Sam Grannon; Scott Beach and Tim Lumb.

All of the above project work falls in line with our current Research areas, with student as producer or co-researchers, in particular we are looking at:

Engaging digital media students in deeper research through social and industrial heritage interpretation.

We have observed a perceptible cultural shift away from library research and deeper reading from print-based media, particularly with students on courses serving technology oriented industries (web, games, graphics and 3D design etc) who can rely heavily on search engine results.

With the aim of engaging students in a full range of deep and more speculative research methods, our team has looked to the use of live heritage oriented projects at level 5 as a means of extending and enriching research skills, resulting in historical reconstructions of local city spaces and connected historical environments.

The students were encouraged to use more traditional investigative processes (on which most information technology is modelled) as source for their interpretations, in combination with Games development technology.

Working within Hull’s library and museums service, undertaking field trips and observational recording, the students gained a deeper understanding of how an holistic approach to research and development activity can be applied across their studio practice.

- G. Sleightholme – HSAD Arts Faculty Research Journal, Spring 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 14.43.05

Our projects to date have included:

(Hull Museum’s Connect/Create exhibition, Ferens Art Gallery)

  • Iron Age sword The journey of an from a Celtic Forge, via a Victorian antiquities collector’s study, to the “stacks” behind the East Riding museum

(Hull Museum’s Connect/Create exhibition, Ferens Art Gallery)

  • Roman oil lamp The journey of a from the potter’s wheel to the ship that brought it to Britain

(Precious Cargo, Westminster, London – selected as part of the national exhibition, and the Cultural Olympiad)

All of which can be found covered in more detail HERE:

  • Holy Trinity Church – A virtual model of as it might have looked during its expansion in the medieval period (shown inside Trinity as a digital altar piece during their celebrated beer festival)
  • Hull’s Paragon Station, interpretation – summer 1914. In response to the national commemoration of the outbreak of WWI, and City of Culture engagement currently highlighted in the city.

“The outward facing nature of the work (online and ‘pop up’ exhibitions at the sites) have brought additional value to the experience, allowing students to witnessing first-hand how audiences engage and respond. Their reflections have led them to propose future developments, such as the use of ‘Oculus Rift’ virtual experience software to allow the pubic to fully immerse themselves in a heritage oriented digital environment.

The students have developed an awareness of the transferable skills they are learning, which can prepare them for a wealth of possible future paths.”

 – G. Sleightholme (Lecturer in Games & Animation, HSAD)

Staff and students from the Hull School of Art & Design‘s New Media Dept, have been involved in experimental Games Technology exhibits like this for quite some time, showcasing their original heritage fly-through at an early HumberMUD event (an event organised in partnership with HSAD, and whose steering group was made up of several HSAD staff at one point).

HumberMUD were a technology and creative arts discussion forum, and the precursor to focus groups and organisations such as Hull Digital (now known for their recent C4DI incubator project) and PlatformExpos and their recent development of a new focus (along side the Humber LEP) on digital creativity as a major area ripe for exploitation in the wider region.

The staff and students continue to try and engage the public through research of this type, and look to build upon current partnerships to bring their work to a wider audience still.

If you or your client has any questions about this type of project we would be happy to help, or if you would be interested in students helping you create a virtual heritage environment for your museum or visitor experience contact us via the Hull School of Art reception.

Tram on Anlaby Street

The visitor times for the extended exhibition at the History Centre, Hull can be found on the History Center website.


The opening night on the 4th September was excellent. A great number of members of the public and special guests turned up to see the work presented by the students;

 Fashion & Games Students - Archives That Inspire

…with a excellent speech from Martin Taylor the City Archivist (and one of the managers of the History Centre) that captured the spirit of the original creative briefs perfectly.

“In the year we commemorate the outbreak of the First World War we’re delighted to be showcasing the work of students of Hull School of Art and Design

Both groups of students undertook research here at the History Centre and it’s great to see that research bearing such amazing fruit…

Oculus Rift in Action 001

…On 28 June 1914 a lady in a hat very like some of those on display here, and her husband in an even more extravagant hat were assassinated in Sarajevo. A little over a month later hundreds of young men in Hull volunteered to fight and die, probably with no very clear idea as to why other than a deep sense of patriotism. They left the city from a Paragon Station much as it looks in the 3D simulated environment you can see tonight. As a nation we have spent a lot of time recently remembering them.

 It might seem a bit of a leap from Sarajevo in 1914 to Hull in 2014. But the five years conflict which was sparked by the deaths of Sophie and Franz Ferdinand changed the world utterly and set in train other momentous events which have left us where we are today. The past continues to shape us all.”

Graham Towse, Principle of Hull College was also one of the exhibition guests to try his hand at the Oculus Rift, virtual reality headset on show at the opening (this will be on show again during the three day heritage open days later in the month).

Graham Towse using the Oculus Rift

Overall the entire exhibition seemed very well received, with the work by all the students from both Fashion and Games Design being praised for their work and their involvement with setting up the exhibition.

Interested in Games Design – Why not enquire about our BA (Hons) in Games Design, we take students for the current academic year up to the beginning of October!

Like MineCraft? Interested in Hull’s history? Check out this HullCraft.


Hull, City of Culture 2017.

New Book Cover Mock-ups – The Lance

•July 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment


New comic book stuff I’m working on, posted over at the Iron-Shod Ape blog…

Originally posted on Iron-Shod Ape Comics:

So I’ve done the basic design for the outer sleeve of the book. The artwork is not finalised, nor the copy as the interior art is not finalised yet either (but it feels like I’m getting there…)

These are just mock ups of what you might be seeing at Thought Bubble this year.

IMAG9442The Front Cover – as it might look.

IMAG9443…you can see a little more of the art on this one.

IMAG9444…the back cover (just mock art and placement of copy and logos at the moment).

IMAG9445…and the spine.


Although the arts not finished… (as you can see above I’m still working away on it), I’m already pulling the print files together, ordering the pages, trying to figure out if the surprise reveals happen on the correct pages and the double page spreads aren’t becoming double side spreads etc.

IMAG9446Well, there is still a ton of work to…

View original 5 more words

Robot Spider – (UpSkilling – 3DSMax)

•July 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So, after a little tinkering with type and video yesterday, I thought I’d continue the up-skilling today with a little animation… Again using 3DS Max, software which I’ve been reintroduced to by my colleague Paul Starkey.


It didn’t take much time to figure out that I wanted to try my hand at a robot… I figured that the surfaces would less organic and that I could create individual items with regards to the legs and animate them in the way a regular stop-motion puppet is animated…

I started by trying to draw the various shapes I wanted directly in Max, but my knowledge of the drawing tools was limited so I “cheated” and built the individual parts in SketchUp from scratch.

The image below was in fact done last of all, I created the leg segments and body in one file, but then saved them out separately… and only really assembled them in SketchUp afterwards…

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 16.19.49

Max it seems, now invites you to import non native file formats, so parsing them across for a test animation was straight forward enough… Though I imagine that optimising all those polys for use in UDK or something similar would take a fair amount of time.

Once in Max,  I had to assemble the model loosely and play with the lighting a little…


The rendering of the final animation frames also took a lot less time than I anticipated too.


Despite some early hiccups with the lighting… (not that I was too worried as it was the animation I was looking at).

002 …and here it is.

Short, but a lot of fun working on it this morning…

I guess I should think about RabbitHeart some more now…

You should also go check out what my colleague Dave Eccles has been up to as well… >HERE<, >HERE< and >HERE< both of us being newbies with this software…



“Art & Beer!” #2 – @FRuiT, Hull – 2/6/14

•July 4, 2014 • Leave a Comment

…So the second Something Entirely DifferentArt and Beer night happened…

Art and Beer Night 2

Great to see so many creatives turn out again… the spirit of the place was pretty optimistic and friendly as you might expect. Great also to see (and this will make me sound like an old man) so many recent graduates and current students in there mixing it up, and pulling their own creative projects together in and of their own volition.

Lots of discussion of on going projects, new projects and new partnerships, all with a view to enhancing the all ready vibrant creative sector manifest here in Hull – City of Culture @2017Hull and City of [Sub]Culture too…

Local edgy thesp’s, Middle Child Theatre, performed a live trailer on stage of their up coming performance/play Weekend Rockstar (see above, farleft)

Michael Barnes and Leeroy from Nautical Mile Comics brought a range of their publications and zines with their mini stall… A couple of which I picked up myself…

Michael Barnes

Alan (Snapper52) et al had their SED stall set out too… natch (see above mid-left).

An the inimitable Dom Li opened season on a summer of observational drawing sessions around the city and region with the Hull Urban Sketchers.

Matt Hardiman and Shay McGreal (below) discussed their beta project weheartart – An on line arts/creativity community with a local remit regarding those who sign up, but a national outlook when thing about positioning local creatives and their works in front of an audience or in the marketplace.

Matt and Shay

…as for me, I set up in an ad hoc kinda way (I kinda just turned up with stuff), and brought my comics as they stand, some sketchbooks, my portfolio of comics and concept work, and the old 10Meter Doodle roll

Art and Beer night 2 - 2Thanks to the fab the Little Minky Co. for taking these photos…

It was a little dark but, with this little beauty nicked from the Infinity Gauntlet, I was able to shed some light on the whole affair…

Me with Lights

All in all a top night, great chatting with old and new creative friends…


#MakingComics – “Severed Head Cult” WIP

•June 16, 2014 • 1 Comment

So… it’s that time of the year again, when the end of the assessment process is in sight (…I teach at Art School) and I’ll be able to throw my not inconsiderable weight into my pet project, i.e. finishing my latest comic pages ready for the Thought Bubble Comics Festival in November.

That’s not to say that I haven’t been squeezing some work toward the project in already (though it does seem like I’ve been AWOL from this blog for a while now).

Anyway… enough!

Below you can see one of my more recent pages… I’ve thrown the full sequence up >HERE<, while below you can find a little process explanation…

The Cthulhiad – Book 2 “The Lance (Redux)” – > Chapter titled “Severed Head Cult – pt1″, pg 004.

[pencil on paper, drawing pens (0.3 and 0.5), marker and brush pen, and photoshop]


As always the process starts with simple thumbnails…

I’m working to a rough script, and in the case of this short few pages its very rough indeed, as it’s essentially a chase with a brief pause for breath in the middle. The page above needed to show that the protagonist was exhausted, but still determined.

The previous page had looked into the alley where the three antagonists stood, so this page would be a reverse shot of that.

Long shot, to mid-shot, reverse out to show the close-up reactions of the antagonists…

So, sketchbook out…


The brush pen nib gives a sense of scale, but to be clear, its a thumbnail sketch, the original measures about 3cm x 5cm.

Next stage is the pencils, here you can see how rough my pencils are… they are just for me, so I don’t need to be so exacting. I’m trying to evolve the speed of my work, so short cutting an elaborate pencilling stage, replacing it with a 0.3 pen drawing stage, just saves time.


After the 0.3 pen, a 0.5 to coax out the edges of objects and separate items, then for these pages I decided to go for lots of blacks. I’m hoping for a growing sense of horror and unease and so the four consecutive pages will simply get darker and darker leading to the final confrontation above.


The use of the brush pen added a natural feel to the work, but as you can see, there was a lot of ground to cover, so I opted for “spotting blacks”, basically marking large areas of non-detail black with an “x”. These could be filled digitally after scanning.


Finally the work is scanned and as you can see I’ve opted for a grey tone as the base colour that bleeds to the edge of the page.

I threw that over the top of the fully blacked art on a separate layer, then used the preset “Multiply” blending mode in the Layers window to allow the artwork to show through.

Then it was just a case of removing the grey with the eraser tool to reveal (in this case) the snow and the highlights on the protagonists coat and on the face and hair of the antagonists…


The lettering and balloons are done in photoshop using elipse Marquees and the Lasso tool.



Revisiting the idea of “Creative Influences” – pt 001 – “Knowledge of the world you live in/on…”

•March 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment
The following questions and activities were delivered as part of an Intro To Games Design session with Year 1 Games students. The purpose of the session was to highlight the value of knowledge beyond their core subject area to their creative process. This session also reinforced some of the none Art oriented skills and cognitive processing of value to their on going RPG concept and  character design project.

The session began:

What can you tell me about the image below?

Ship Beakers 002…image sourced from > News Article

Discussion with group… group led, hypotheses discussed and countered, group consensus arrived at…

So what IS happening here?

Actual reasons/situation discussed, bringing up questions – historical, economic, social, geographic etc. – which continued with discussion of the images and links below.

Hard, dangerous work…

Shipbreaking in LondonThe Queen, heeled over on the shore of the Thames.

…for a little more on this subject and the history try >HERE<

Why do I need to know this stuff anyway?

Well, how else would I have come across images like this, or this?

…or more in line with your interests perhaps.

Blackbird Interactive - Ship BreakersImage property of Blackbird Interactive… (see link below)

So what are looking at here (above)? – It clearly looks like some of the earlier imagery, but is it real?

What is it for?



In a related discussion…

What can you tell me about the phrase Cyber-punk?

…author and critic David Brin:

“…a closer look [at cyberpunk authors] reveals that they nearly always portray future societies in which governments have become wimpy and pathetic …Popular science fiction tales by Gibson, Williams, Cadigan and others do depict Orwellian accumulations of power in the next century, but nearly always clutched in the secretive hands of a wealthy or corporate elite.[19]“

What do I mean by Orwellian?

Further group discussion… (see link above for a defining quote)

Okay so why am I asking all these questions?

Further group discussion …the influence of specific and/or “rare” knowledge on the makers of popular culture and entertainment media… The larger the pool of knowledge outside your core subject area the more unique your combinations of influences might be… and so the more individual your final ideas/concepts.

The more individual or variations of and the more diverse the types of colour, shape, form of Lego brick we have on our play table, the more unique variations of models we can potentially make.

Ten people with only three Lego bricks each are going to make very similar choices on the way the combine them.

Initial Survey Results on Reading and Cultural Activity amongst Art School Students – G Sleighthome 2013

0 0 Survey Graphic FINAL FINAL xSo how to remedy this?

Well we can start to reassess our design process, our intrinsic values regarding what is important or useful as a designer/creative… Do we know much about how creativity works… Well/ there are lots of ideas.

A visual look at theories and potential pathways toward dissecting the creative process looking at the links between Creativity, Evolutionary Empathy and Deep Reading. – G Sleightholme

One Last Visualjpg

By all means take a look at the infographics above; but needless to say there are probably some simpler explanations or at east more appropriate points of discussion (than the one I was looking at for my Masters projects above) that we could explore right now in the session…

One such re-assignment of value might be to revisit our previous discussion on William Gibson and the Building a personal Micro-culture


Maria Popova on Combinatorial Creativity

…in the meantime lets test some of that inherent, pre-existing knowledge. And see if we might have some gaps that might help us in the reassignment of some of those values.


Firstly… Who are we looking at here? Alexander…? Alexander who? Of where?

Open discussion to the class and then move into the Activity.

Here we roll out a timeline of earths history… and got the students to select pre-made cutouts of events and people from history and place them on the time line in collaboration with their colleagues/peers.


+ Related mini brief…

Who Do You Know?


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