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 ______________________________________________________



Populating the Scene – Part 2 – (Back to Basics) – “Grey Blocking Existing Assets”

•March 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Mini-brief – Games Design Year 1 – Populating The Scene 2 (Back to Basics)

You are to look at all the assets you have personally created so far in 3DSMax since the beginning of the course and develop an assemblage/scene that utilises those assets in a way that achieves believability in its “narrative”, i.e. “how all the objects came to be there” (clearly relative scale will be important here).

Your scene should not be overly large (thus spreading your detailing too thinly), and it should not look like it was assembled/collaged by robots.

Your scene should look like humans/characters have interacted/interfered with the objects in the scene.

You should use as many of your objects as many times as possible to add complexity and to further the human/character narrative.

You are not to develop any further objects beyond the ones you already have made in your Games Design Yr 1 sessions (unless agreed by your tutor, and only then after you have created your “Version 1” of your assemblage).

Do not be overly concerned about materials and textures at this time. This method of working relates directly to an industry practice known as “grey-blocking (see Lichdon Process video shown in session).

Should you in this your briefing session not have access to all your models (i.e. you “left them on another drive/computer/account” etc) you should instead* develop as series perspective drawing/sketches that shows your plans for your assemblage. These can be submitted along with your final model.

Scan 96

This can be a simple or a complex a planning image as you need.
*… for those of you who understand the design process, you may find this a useful element of your process anyway, rather than going straight to the screen.

Populating the Scene – Part 1 – “An Accumulation of Narrative”

•March 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”

- The Monster from Frankenstein,  Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Whatever you think of the melancholy aspect of the above quote, life is regardless an accumulation… an accumulation of narratives, and accumulation of memories and inevitably in a consumer/property happy society, and accumulation of objects and paraphernalia.

(see the link in the quote above to Bernie Wrightson‘s excellent image of Victor’s Rooms).

With that in mind, when creating environments that are to emulate those we humans inhabit, particularly those inhabited by obsessives and focussed characters, or those inhabited or effected by small groups of the same, we have to consider the sheer amount of objects, props and physical material accumulated in those spaces.

This brief will be a test of that consideration:

“Populating the Scene – 1” – Mini Brief.

You are to develop a series of scenes or environments as if they are to be a key area in an animation or game design that is to be completed in digital 3D.

Each scene must be as fully realised as possible. Populated with assets props, scene dressing and signs of human life/character intervention.

You can visually develop the environment in any way you see fit.

  • Concept art (Traditional or Digital*, single or several images)
  • Physical 3D (card and other physical modelling media/material(
  • Digital 3D* (SketchUp, Blender, Maya, 3DSMax, Unity, UE4 etc.).
*Any pieces using software must be presentable at each stage in a format that allows client access – i.e. executable files, jpegs, video.

The scenes you are to develop are listed below:

  • The Games Artist’s Shelf.
  • A Doctors office, 2050AD.
  • The Games Artists Studio 
  • A Beach Bar.
  • A 1940’s/1950’s Doctor’s office.
  • An abandoned mini-mart, post looting.
  • A Barbershop.
  • A maverick science nut/conspiracy theorist’s apartment.
  • A derelict car park behind a disused youth-centre.
  • A vehicle converted into a kid’s tree house.

No characters are necessary. Though as always you should consider an environment brief as character design in absentia.

This brief, perhaps more than some others. Let’s see that accumulation of objects and paraphernalia.

You are to attempt to finish at least one of the above (with research and development work).

You have two weeks until the first crit’. So three of the above would be better (this is way more time than you would be given in industry to develop a similar set of visual materials).

Animation/Games Design Mini-Brief – “Bridge”

•March 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Animation/Games Design Mini-Brief  – “Bridge” 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 provides entertainment media developers the opportunity to explore Ideation, Narrative Development, Environment Design, Prop & Object (inc. Vehicle ) (with Character Design if appropriate). This kind of project can be used to support your portfolio, and assessable project work.

Task 1
You are asked to think back to the short essay – “Why designers can’t think” – by Michael Beirut. – see earlier BUS STOP BRIEF
Task 2
You are asked to think back to the use of “A Pattern Language” – Christopher Alexander et al. – see earlier BUS STOP BRIEF

Task 3 The theme of your next short Pre-viz/narrative development exercise is to be “The Bridge”. For the purposes of this brief, a BRIDGE is:

“…a physical structure that allows the passage of people (characters) and/or their vehicles (modes of carriage/transport) across a gulf between two or more points, otherwise un-navigable.”


This “gulf” could be between two banks of a river, two buildings, across a chasm/precipice or across another highway of some sort. NOTE: There are many different types of bridge already in existence.

It may (see Task 1) do you good to familiarise yourself with some of them (this could add to your submission of visual development work – thumbnails of various types for example)

During your investigation phase you may also wish to look at a range of Concept Art images, and without even using the word “bridge” in your search, take note of the amount of gantries, walkways, bridges (natural and man-made), flyovers, and elevated roads that appear. – It appears to be a recurring subject, and so is a useful portfolio builder.


Your submission can encompass any genre, any historical timeframe or period, past, present or future, it can be in any style, and any state of repair and of course 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 a story or narrative (you may negotiate this brief with your tutor should you wish to exploit the project to evidence a particular industry skill-set or role).


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 whose work you have looked at during your research and ongoing development phase and how they have influenced your decision-making. You will be expected to have your work ready for discussion with your tutors in (two weeks). This work must be gathered together in a form ready to show(design document, blog post, prezi, powerpoint etc.) without resorting to leafing through loose paper or clicking through folders. ALL elements of the brief above MUST be evidenced at this discussion. You have just two weeks to develop this project.


A project that should/COULD be developed to a high/presentation level in a single day. Consider how many of these you would be asked to develop a week in industry.

What Rough Beast…

•January 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’ve had an image in my head for sometime now… it won’t shift.

I’ve expressed it in comic book form as a vision that the warrior St. George suffers in my book The White Ship. postcard-the-manticore…and I expressed it as a large live art cartoon of “Political Power and Greed Unchecked” at the last HumberStreet Sesh event (August 2014). Manticore 002 …and then showcased as part of the Illustrative Arts Exhibition in the Creative & Cultural Company gallery (again in August). Manticore 001 …it’s probably without doubt a manifestation of my constant returning to W.B. Yeats lines..

  A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.


what rough beast, etc

…but the beast I’ve been toying with in my head for a while has been the sight of this creature walking through the streets of a city, through a crowd like in the image above, a sort of inverse/malignant Aslan

And I thought “how would I make this happen?” (it would be great to see it at an Occupy rally or similar event)

Anyway, somewhere between my background as a theme-park and visitor attraction designer, and my love of the crazy Royal-De-Luxe style puppet experiences, this has started to develop. x Manticore Float The doodles above are my first pen on page realisations of the idea of “the Manticore” as a event piece (done over the Yuletide break this last December). …

“Room Head” & other Strange Architecture – Sketchbook meanderings…

•January 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

…too much cheese before bed suggested an old friend of mine.

I’m thinking, it might owe more to Shaun Tan (thanks to @wildflowerfaery for the gifts last month) and the cutaway “second unit” clips in Gotham…

Whatever it was it resulted in the image below whilst watching August Osage County with the family.

Room Head - Large

The following day brought more of the same… there is perhaps something of the James Gurney stuff I love in there, but again more architecturally influenced noodling (below)…

Tower Carriage - Large

Love the animated quality that somehow manifested in the creature pulling the carriage. I definitely need to explore these sketches further.

“This Ain’t a Scene…” – Character Concept Design, fragments (arms only).

•December 15, 2014 • 1 Comment

As with the Headshots, this are just exercises to get a feel for the kind of characters I might want to work up further… Also they are smaller and easier to manage than full character drawings, meaning that as a colour/values practice opportunity, they are much more economical (and varied).

xx Arms 001

All originally pencilled, then inked traditionally, then scanned…

Pencils of Arms

The tentacle tattoo on the upper central arm holding the sword was added using a reduced and mirrored copy of the tentacled arm at the far right.

Arm Tattoos 001

The tribal tattoo on the arm poised above the “Bird in the Hand” image, was developed quickly, using type from Adobe Illustrator, then modified using the Twirl tool, and enhanced by hand in Photoshop.

Tattoo Arms 002…next Feet & Boots.



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