So, What/Who is ApopheniaInc?

•October 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

0 Sketchbook Gareth Sleightholme hesir Apophenia Inc is the digital online sketchbook and reflective blog for: Gareth Sleightholme (AKA hesir) – an Illustrator, Scenographer and Creative Consultant who has, for two decades, 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, amongst other clients. He remains an educationalist who is currently lecturing in Games Design & Animation at BA(Hons) level whilst pursuing post Masters research looking at the links between deep reading, empathy and creativity, as well as working on his own personal projects. – Contact – mob 07403861838 – or email – or alternatively tweet me on @hesir.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 linked to 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 personally believe it plays a fundamental part in the act of ‘creativity’“. “Inc.” or “inc.”, abbreviation of “incorporated”… Sounds a bit like ink.

“My Masters Degree Study looked 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.

Elsewhere, I am generating artwork for follow up issues to my 2012 self-published comics debut – “The Indian Fighter” – (The Cthulhiad Book 1), and three subsequent comics: The White Ship (pub 2013), and Vanitas and Severed Head Cult (pub 2014); including a new title (co-plotted by @wildflowerfaery), The Red Corsair.

I have also occasionally produced posters for Theatre and Music Events as well as getting involved in local arts events, having drawn my freelancing for the Leisure/Visitor Attraction & Heritage markets to a close. …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 hoping to be at ThoughtBubble again this year… Come by our table, we will look something like THIS: Thoughtbubble 2013 A ______________________________________________________



“Will” as an under examined part of the Creative Process.

•July 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Just a bit of a thought avalanche…

So, below, a possible starting point for an “equation/formula” for WILL, as it effects creativity at least… to be added to my diagrammatic examination of creativity, created as part of my early research into the links between Creativity, Empathy & Deep Reading

WILL – the toughest and most (only) unteachable element of the creative process.


The Experience of Failure Remembered (anxiety) – EFR

The Projection of Future Failure Imagined/Revisited (anxiety) – PFI

 – all balanced/reckoned against… (and this of course needs to take into consideration any current mental state of the individual and their “in the moment” predisposition to the above balanced against the below)

The Potential for Positive Outcomes/Experiences Imagined (the drive to act) – PPO



————–      =  Will (to attempt to create, despite the Fear of failure)


This equation’s weighting seems to shift in favour of “the drive to act” the further down the road you travel as a creative (occasionally flipping back during times of stress or prolonged failure), with EFR and PFI becoming more diminished with more positive valence experiences following the commitment to the creative act.
“…now able to overcome without fear a situation that formerly would have overwhelmed [them] with anxiety, [they] experience(s) a certain kind of pleasure” Fenichel, 1945/1966, p. 45 via Lumby, J. 2011, Enjoyment and Learning: policy and secondary school learners’ experience in England, British Educational Journal Vol. 37, No. 2, p 249.
All this is tied to the human tendency to prefer rewards (in this case positive feedback on their own work from within or without) that present themselves sooner; this hyperbolic discounting/cognitive dissonance (added to the miasma of Frankl’s often ignored idea of Noogenic Depression that seems ever more prevalent in our students) is often the major factor in students simply giving up – which is why his argument/position has been countered in several ways by creatives recently including Ira Glass, Chris Oatley and Elisabeth Gilbert.

That said, they are often vastly over emphasised in students who are just starting out, particularly in situations were peer criticism and the preservation of any fragile social standing (or agency*) are viewed by the student as of more importance than success.

*again tied to Empathy.

King’s Leap – Vikings Vs Monsters …a comic book.

•April 20, 2015 • 2 Comments


…just a little teaser.

Promo Image 002“The old woman smiled”

To let you know work is slowly coming together on a B/W comic written by the “very metal” Rob Jones (@RobJonesWrites) and illustrated by myself… called King’s Leap.

It has Vikings in it… I’m sure you’ll like it…

Promo Image 001The creature fell, transforming …then SLAM!

Keep an eye on my twitter feed (@hesir) and that of Madius Comics (@madiuscomics) for more teaser art, also check out there last release Papercuts and Inkstains, and finally, don’t forget to track us all down at this years Thoughtbubble!

Art below… work in progress (highlights, shadows and text to be added etc) on Page 6, King’s Leap.

x Promo Page Kings Leap- Page 006

…more to come.




Observational Drawing – Waiting Room, Hull Royal.

•April 20, 2015 • 4 Comments

Drawn whilst waiting for Sarah…

Just exercises in observation for the most part… the arms on those chairs where a nightmare to visually untangle…

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Whilst the chap below was fun to draw particularly as he became more and more flustered with his newspaper… mostly trying to hide behind it as he had cottoned onto the fact I was drawing him…
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Finally, three chairs… I think I’d have preferred the composition without the interloper who arrived after I’d started… but observation is observation, and it seemed a cheat to leave her out…

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Observational Sketches & Drawings – Travelling, Part 2- Germany (on the Mosel) and Bruges…

•April 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

…over Easter Sarah and I managed to get away thanks to out friends dragging us across the water (laughs) and we had a fantastic short holiday in Germany, Sarah and I’s first holiday abroad.

I still snuck some sketching in mind, the place was beautiful and full of great looking architecture set against the fantastic landscape* of this wine making region (the Mosel).

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None of my drawings will really do it justice, but it was fun trying to capture the scale and the relative antiquity of the views… above, looking across the Mosel River from Zell.

*imagine a scaled up pennine valley without any of the industrial blots on the landscape and instead picturesque collections of spires of all shapes and sizes, dominating Disney/Medieval style pitched roofs and shuttered windows.

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Marianburg (above), was a convent, now a hostel(?) perched high above the steep vineyards that covered the the hillsides… Drawn from outside a little restaurant in Punderich.

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Whilst this pencil sketch was done from the window of our guesthouse window in a little village called Merl.

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Above the ruins of the Grevenburg (built around 1350, destroyed following several sieges, in 1734) overlooking the cafe we ate at in Traben-Trarbach.

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There was a whole bunch of Castles of varying structural integrity along the river… one of my favourites was Castle Metternich at Beilstein. This view (above) looks down onto the town and the Mosel (Moselle) from the base of the castle…

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Looking back up from the river side you can see the Old Tollhouse and how the castle dominates the hillside and the surrounding area…

We caught a boat from Beilstein to Cochem… the sketch below was done from the riverside looking up a steep escarpment with fortifications that seemed to have tumbled down the slope over time…

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Its only when yo go further down the riverside and look back that you really get a sense of how high that building is on from the previous drawing, and why my neck ached so much whilst drawing it.

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Below the hillside, the town centre seemed dominated by the huge tower and dome of St Martin’s Catholic Church…

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The doorway just above the notes in the sketch leads to a great little cellar restaurant (the Rathaus) where we ate… highly recommended.

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On our last day I managed to get a few more drawings finished… this modest little sketch in Merl (just along from the guesthouse) showing the decorated fronts of the houses so typical of the area…

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…this rough doodle of the approach to Zell from Merl.

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And finally this drawing of one of the old timber framed buildings from outside a cafe in Zell…

From Germany we headed back to England stopping over one night in Bruges…

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Not a great deal was drawn I admit, I like my little night sketch, done while drinking cloudy beer, and I like the cyclist… Bruges is certainly somewhere to head back to with a looser itinerary and more time for sketching…

Observational Sketches & Drawings – Travelling, Part 1- Heerlen, The Netherlands, and Airports…

•April 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Okay, so I’ve been managing to get some travelling in, both with work and just for pleasure of late, and I tried to get a little drawing in as I went…

First up was a research trip with work out to Heerlen in the southern most part of the Netherlands.

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Above Manchester Airport…

Work obviously comes first and the few days we were out there where pretty hectic and exhausting, so I didn’t get much chance to draw until the last night before heading back, when I threw this drawing of the bar down…

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And of course in the airports… there is always time there… and plenty of people to doodle. Just try not to catch their eye, none of them seem to be enjoying themselves… (laughs)

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…and the first time ever and inspired by James Jean‘s amazing airborne images from his sketchbooks, I thought I’d have a go at drawing whilst on the plane…

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Next up Germany and Bruges…

Sketchbook Dump – Characters (Pirates, Detectives, Robots etc).

•April 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Okay, so some of you tweeters out there may have seen the occasional sketchbook image drift past your feed… Here are a whole bunch of those sketches in one place.

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Love that central figure (from back in February)… probably influenced by all the great sketch stuff I see Karl Kopinski putting out on his FB feed… essentially a doodle at heart (i.e. it was serving no real purpose beyond practice), but one that settled into an interesting character drawing…

Similar in tone is this (from Saturday) unfinished blue line sketch… again of a piratical type.

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More pirates below… this time inspired by the TV showing the version of Treasure Island which stars Orson Wells as Silver…

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Blind Pew is one of my favourite characters in that version… he looks just like the image created by NC Wyeth, in fact the whole film looks like it owes a debt of thanks to his work…

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I have no idea what happened here (the distance between his eyes is ludicrous), but I kinda like the overall effect… A ranine/batrachian, Innsmouth denisen, that could pass for Captain Marsh just as the change came upon him…

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Above is more doodling whilst watching TV… this time, the remake of Nosferatu…

…and Vincent with Ray Winstone, love the scene with the fire extinguisher; thought him holding this weapon of choice might make for a great hero pose at the centre of a Drew Struzan style image…

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Again, projects that I may or may not ever get around to…

And below more of the same, though more likely inspired by Dick Tracy or some such show that they rerun on the Info Channel or TCM…

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…I love watching those old shows… I was particularly enamoured of an episode of Dragnet I caught (great cinematography for a TV show, particularly of that period, really cinematic, especially the aerial shots of Los Angeles).

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Above and below… more warm-up/warm-down sketchbook doodling, done whilst (before and after) working on the Kings Leap comic pages.

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The central figure above, along with the Hellboy-ish character below no doubt drawing some inspiration from my recent acquisition of a Joseph Clement Coll compendium… And if you don’t know that name, your in for a treat when you look him up.

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…finally, robots.

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Big robots… because, well, do y’really need a reason?

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Animation/Games Design Mini-Brief – “Library”

•April 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Animation/Games Design Mini-Brief  – “Library” This Mini Brief is given as part of Yr 1 Games and Animation “Creative Futures” and allows opportunity to develop both traditional and progressive digital skills, it follows on from the other single word briefs in providing entertainment media developers (and students) the opportunity to explore Ideation, (implied) Narrative Development, Environment Design, Prop & Object (inc. Vehicle ) – with Character Design (actual or in absentia) if appropriate. For others this kind of project can be used to support your portfolio, and/or assessable project work.


How do you make an environment or develop a scene based on information you are not familiar with, or beyond your experience (or at least beyond regular exposure)?

Research, research, research…

The theme of your short Pre-viz/narrative development exercise is to be “LIBRARY”.

For the purposes of this brief, a LIBRARY can be interpreted as “any place at which an individual or a body of people have decided to store, display and/or catalogue a range of texts”.

These texts can be in the form of codex (the form we commonly call bound books), scrolls (if ancient perhaps), or other contemporary or futuristic forms including digital, holographic etc (What if your library was a library of sounds, how would that look?).

Your library may well be openly accessible to the public and so reflect that usage, your library may have been abandoned, ill kept etc; your library might reflect the politics of a culture; ie. is it an austere prison for books that a body of people have locked away? Or is it part of a place of learning where intelligence is valued? If so does your architecture reflect that?

Your submission can encompass any genre, any historical timeframe or period, any style, and be delivered in any media (pencil, pen & ink, paint, digital 2D, traditional 3D, Digital 3D, moving image etc.).

Whether a single image, a sequence of images, storyboard or animatic – your project should convey an underlying story or narrative.

We will expect to see all developmental materials, from thumbnails to final image/s. We would expect reflective blog posts detailing a list of influences/artists/creatives who you have looked at during your research and ongoing development phase and how they have influenced your decision-making.

Games Designers – you may wish to employ the design processes we have discussed previously i.e. iterative traditional design development through to grey-blocking and then final image/model.
Animators – you may wish to develop and compose as a scene, or a short storyboard/animatic.
You will continue to work on this until your final hand-in.
ALL elements of the brief above MUST be evidenced.



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