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




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.

The Guildhall Boiler House & Chimney, Guildhall Road, Hull.

•March 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

00 0 The Stack x

The Guildhall boiler house & chimney as seen from the Queen’s Garden’s pavement on Guildhall Road.

I’ve been walking past this wanting to stop and draw it for a number of weeks, so today I went out and did it.

No. 79 Lowgate, Hull.

•March 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

79 Lowgate

Sketched on 11/03/14, sometime between 16.15pm and 17.00 (straight ahead in pen* on a4 half-toned paper).

With its round tower, No.79 Lowgate, built 1881, a former wine merchants’ offices and warehouse for B.B. Mason; this red brick building is one of the my favourite buildings in the area, not least because of its “single stage round tower with a 3-light window and dentillated cornice and conical roof with finial. (see link below)”

Restored and converted circa 1985 for the City Record Office, (presently vacant?). It is a Grade II Listed Building.

*uni pIn FINELINE 0.3

Developing an Aesthetic theme… pt. 002

•March 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment
…used as part of the Technical Production Skills – Semester Two Yr 2 – Animation

Developing an Aesthetic theme, continued…

Based upon explorations from pt. 001 of this brief, and your development of an aesthetic for a range of settings, scenarios, moods and atmospheres based on a selected list (below).

The Seven Deadly Sins   /   The Muses   /   The Planets   /   Chess   /   The Senses

…you are to create a rapid outlet for your research in the form of either:


A – a set of chairs surrounding a table, where the table reflects the overarching theme, and the chairs represent the individual aspects or elements.

I.e the table might represent inspiration in the case of the Muses, while two of the chairs would represent Poetry and Music respectively.

The table and chairs need not be formal, nor follow a rigid underlying aesthetic.

Your personally developed theme is priority!

You could choose a casual setting with beanbag and sofa style seating around a coffee table or formal chairs around a banquet table. That choice is yours.


B – A set of animal* masked costumes, including the central feature of a meeting place for those animals.

*This can be an imaginary animal made up of the symbolic attributes of several other animals (see Gryphons etc.)

The costumes could be theatrical, ritualistic or for some other purpose (who else wears costumes and why?). That choice is yours.

All your designs would eventually be used in a film/animation setting, but you should concentrate on the design.

  • For the purposes of this exercise you will be expected to produce a design for the central and at least two or three of the individual elements fully. And be clear as to how you would choose to animate the piece (digital 2D, Trad 2D, 3D digital or stop motion), this eventuality should be reflected in your designs obviously.

You should finalise your ideas as “presentation boards”, submitted to your blogs as well as being ready for print.

This project can be used as part of your portfolio, and your Self-Initiated project evidence (aesthetics, and symbolism can after all be used as tools to enhance or underpin story).

In which case you may wish to continue the exercise and produce a full set.

Mini Brief – Developing an Aesthetic theme… pt. 001

•March 11, 2014 • 1 Comment
…used as part of the Technical Production Skills – Semester Two Yr 2 – Animation

Developing an Aesthetic theme.

 You are to explore and develop “an aesthetic” for a range of settings, scenarios, moods and atmospheres based on one of the concepts in the selected list (below).

Each of your Aesthetic Explorations should include:

  • Research into the psychology of images and symbolism (notes and visuals in the form of blog posts).
  • Mood boards that use colour palettes, textures, materials, objects, lighting schemes and related art and design elements.(notes in the form of blog posts, plus presentation boards – digital or traditional)
  • …and iconography from historical and contemporary sources (notes and visuals in the form of blog posts).
  • …and perhaps even typography.

 Your Subject Choices are:

The Seven Deadly Sins   /   The Muses   /   The Planets   /   Chess   /   The Senses


Suggested reading and research areas:

Try and evidence all the discussions, interviews and related reading you can find on the creation of aesthetic schemes that production designers, art directors, cinematographers, stage designers and others who must take these issues into account in their work, perhaps some reading around those practical subject areas might be a starting point.

As might reading further on psychology (Freud and Jung), semiotics, symbolism, colour theory and artistic composition.

There are interviews on many film DVDs that are available (and that you probably own or have access to at home) upon which designers discuss the reasoning for their artistic/design choices.

Also: Look at the work of Sarah Greenwood, Ben van Os & Jan Roelfs, Mark Friedberg, Dante Ferretti, David Boyd, Colin De Rouon & David A Koneff. Jack Cardiff, all of whom would make good staring points for your research into this project.

Additional task:
Should you wish to test your understanding of the symbolism of your chosen subject, how easily could you produce a set of icons/buttons for use on an app that reflected the meaning and symbolic language associated with those individual elements of your theme.

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