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




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?

Drawing the Human Figure from the Imagination – Mini-brief

•March 21, 2014 • 1 Comment
This project was designed as a specific, self-initiated project with a student, looking at “Solid Drawing” and Rendering as part of their study of Underpinning Drawing Skills for Animation – but the project could equally be run as a lead in for a digital 3D/character design project for Games, or a refresher course for illustration students.
Without doubt, drawing from observation, and life drawing are the core disciplines behind successful figure drawing, however in the commercial illustrator or concept artists working life there will be occasions where the accessibility of first hand ref is not available, whether due to the location or the timescale of the project. In which case the ability to construct a figure from the imagination will be the only recourse the practitioner has.

Figure Drawing from the Imagination

Pt 1 – Investigation

As discussed in previous sessions -

000 00 Basic Drawing

…you may find that exploring underpinning skills and techniques that centre on the ability to show 3D form and shape in drawings (through the use of perspective drawing and understanding how light strikes an object for example), will over time (and through purposeful, focused practice) lead to greater facility with much more complex shape compositions; the human figure included.

Screen shot 2011-11-10 at 12.31.54

With that in mind, you are to begin by investigating/revisiting some of the elementary drawing exercises discussed in the books below (some of these can be found in the old media section in the studio):

In these new investigations/revisits – rather than slavishly reproducing the images within the various books – try drawing the various exercises from a new angle not shown by the author (if an example face is looking down and to the right, try drawing it using the same technique looking up and to the left), truly implementing the principles discussed rather than copying as you might from a photograph or image on Google (this can actually be an interesting exercise with any given image).

Also take time to read the text and make notes on some of the principles discussed, and annotate your drawings as appropriate.

Pt2 – Skeletons and Basic Primitives

  • A - Try creating a series of images just using the the skeletal frame of the human figure in a variety of poses, your aim is to get the proportion and sense of movement or poise of the figure to look naturalistic, rather than render a fully detailed figure. Try to get a sense of the sex and body shape of the characters, without adding the flesh. You may need to refer to an anatomy book at this point, in order to see the basic skeletal composition of the human form. Have your stick(ish) figures hold props, or interact with 3d forms such as boxes, spheres or cylinders… Fill a couple of A3 pages (or the equivalent in your sketchbook/daybooks).
  • B - Take two or three of your favourite/more successful figures from part A, photocopy the images (perhaps enlarging them) and bulk out the forms using cylinders, spheres, truncated cones, boxes etc, don’t worry about accurate anatomical detail, just try and block out the shapes as if you were designing a wooden puppet.
  • C - Now try the same exercise again this time adding more organic shapes denoting muscle and/or fat instead of simple shapes, consider how the flesh would be relaxed or tensed dependent on the pose. Walt Stanchfield has some excellent advise on the quick rendering of the human figure, particularly his advice on straights and curves (Drawn To Life, p19), or lines to denote the stretched and clenched/bunched muscle or body mass of the human figure in dynamic movement, as does Michael D. Mattesi in Force.

Pt 3 – Heads and Hands

Without reference or use of mirrors and ref photographs, fill an A3 page+ (or the equivalent in your sketchbook/daybooks) with heads using the principles discussed above (Pt 1). Try to get some variation into the angle and positions of the head; leaning back, looking down, turning up and to the side, three-quarter, profile and portrait. Make sure the image is based on a solidly rendered form and not just details filling a flat 2D line. No need to add hair, or other extraneous detail (facial hair, hats, earrings etc), just the forms of the head and face.

Are you able to differentiate the sex of the character (perhaps not so differentiated in non-human characters) without accessories such as hair or body shape? If so, does this mean you’ve found he right balance within the features, or that you have over-emphasised and are making stereotypical choices?

Do the same again, this time with hands only.

You may want to look at the basic forms again as discussed in pt 1 of this brief; both Burne Hogarth (in Dynamic Anatomy), and Walt Stanchfield (in Drawn to Life – p17), discuss this.

Try drawing the hands in a relax state, bunched into a fist, pointing, holding a simple object (a sphere or a cube, etc.). Can you differentiate the physicality of the hands? Are they a soldier’s or a farmer’s hands, or a model’s or pianist’s hands?

Pt 4 – A final figure drawing from the imagination, based on the following definitions:

The Character Shape/Body Type (a combination of two of the following )

  • Tall
  • Medium
  • Short


  • Ectomorph
  • Mesomorph
  • Endomorph

If appropriate you may wish to consider body types that fall into categories both medically recognised (Gigantism, Dwarfism etc.) and the Fantastical (Giants, Dwarves, Elves, Gods, Monsters, Aliens etc.).

The Characters Job/Role/Vocation.

  • Pirate
  • Head of Royal Family
  • Priest
  • Spy
  • Merchant
  • Construction Worker

The period or fictional setting for your character should develop out of your choice, I see no problem developing a regular pirate, or a space pirate for example.

The Characters Sex

  • Female/Male/Asexual

This is purely a visual task, but if writing for the character, gender should also clearly be a consideration, you may wish to consider that here if appropriate; but try to avoid stereotypes.

Character Pose/Action

  • asleep/in repose/reclining
  • running/jumping/leaping/landing
  • fighting/punching/defending/enraged
  • using/wielding a tool/object/accessory
  • seated/crouching
  • falling/unsteady

Use all the techniques discussed and practiced above to develop the pose and the fleshing out of your figure.

Try to avoid using photographic ref, whether your own, or Google Images etc, where possible, though I have no problem with ref for individual elements of costume/equipment etc.

And try to have fun!

Interior/Exterior – Environment Drawing Mini-Brief.

•March 20, 2014 • 1 Comment
This project was designed as a specific, self-initiated project with a student, looking at “Solid Drawing”, Perspective Drawing and Rendering as part of their study of drawing for Animation – but the project could also be run as a digital 3D design project for Games, or a Film and TV/Stage Design or Production Design project, or simply a Narrative Illustration exercise.

(Self-initiated) Drawing Brief

Pt 1 – Investigation

Investigate/Revisit the principles of Drawing in Perspective.  Make notes on your blog, via your sketchbooks/daybooks (scans) if preferred.

Produce a few pages showing basic mastery of techniques previously looked at, including one, two and three-point perspective, and perhaps “crating” – these might be useful as a warm-up exercises.

Be playful with the subject matter if that keeps your interest up, or simply use basic primitives in combination.

Pt 2 – Interior Theme

You are to create a solid rendering of an interior theme, your drawing should retain all compositional and construction lines, should you wish to produced a second “cleaned-up” version, you may, but the version with construction lines is mandatory.

The choices for your interior are below – take one element from each column:

1 – Overarching theme.

  • A Mad Scientist’s Lab.
  • A Medieval Woodcutter’s Cottage.
  • The flight deck of a Space Pirates Ship.
  • A Museum of Anthropology & World Archaeology.
  • The Hold (below decks) of a Sunken/Sinking Galleon.
  • A City Bank.

2 – Contents state.

  • In a state of disarray/ransacked.
  • Untidy/slovenly kept.
  • Abandoned or overgrown.
  • Current/in use/tidy.
  • Under repair/being redecorated.
  • A crime scene.

3 – Specific object inclusion.

  • A musical Instrument.
  • A painting or marble bust.
  • A drink, still undrunk.
  • A lifeless robot.
  • A time-travellers device/briefcase.
  • A Cannon.

P3 – Exterior Theme

You are to create a solid rendering of an exterior theme, your drawing should retain all compositional and construction lines, should you wish to produced a second “cleaned-up” version, you may, but the version with construction lines is mandatory.

The choices for your exterior are below – take one element from each column:

1 – Overarching theme.

  • A Medieval Farmhouse.
  • A typical (19th/early 20th century architecture) Street Corner Pub.
  • A train yard.
  • An aircraft hanger.
  • Ye old Curiosity Shoppe.
  • A scrap yard.

2 – Exterior’s state.

  • Affected by War or Political upheaval.
  • Untidy/slovenly kept.
  • Abandoned or overgrown.
  • Current/in use/tidy.
  • Under repair/being redecorated.
  • A crime scene.

3 – Specific object inclusion.

  • An old TV set.
  • A painting or marble bust.
  • An old but comfortable looking armchair.
  • A Japanese robot toy.
  • A traveller’s pack or baggage
  • A sculpture/carving/ornament in the form of a white elephant.

Pt 4 – Atmosphere & Lighting

You are to take one of these drawings and render it in two of the paired time/light mood settings from the grid below (if your interior image has no visible light change when considering the settings below, you must use your exterior image).

Settings 1

  • A – Midday
  • B – Midnight (moonlight)

Settings 2

  • A – Dawn
  • B – Dusk

Settings 3

  • A – Summer’s Day
  • B – A Lightening Storm

Settings 4*

  • A – Car Head Lights (Exterior)
  • B – Candle Light (Interior)

*These should work whether you render your interior or exterior scene, i.e. a candle lit room can be seen from outside, as car headlights can light a room interior from without.

The choices above are to be made by the student themselves as conscious decision. But could be made with dice in order to liven up the decision making process, the stage four decisions perhaps drawn from a hat.

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