Drawing & Traditional Rendering 2 – inc “Pareidolia” (Work in Progress).

This session was taught as part of Year 1 – Games Design and Animation, Creative Futures – Skill Sets… the second of two sessions looking at the basics (and importance of) of drawing relating to design development for games and animation (and other entertainment media) – The prior session notes can be found here – Drawing & Traditional Rendering – “Back To Basics” (Work in Progress).

Part 1 – Quick Draw App’

Students took part in a 15 minute speed drawing session that caused them to think about what they where drawing as they drew, rather than prior to the act.

10, 15 and 30 second drawing challenges based around fixed items “A Map of Italy“, mutable items such as “A dog“, “Pots and Pans” etc; and then ultimately intangible concepts such as “Breakfast” and “The Farm“.

A useful exercise, not only to build speed, but to address issues related to being overly precious about your drawings (when as an early part of the design process they are ultimately disposable – this is design, not Art! – and so not to be worried and fussed over).

The resulting drawings can be placed on the student’s blogs with annotations explaining the problems and successes had during the session.

It is possible to work on further speed drawings by heading over to Paul’s website and using the app yourselves  – http://paul-starkey.com/applications.html

Quick Draw visual

Part 2 – Failure or “Non-success” (particularly on the first attempt) is part of the process…

As stated one of the issues we have to deal with, as artist/creatives just starting out, is freeing oneself from preconceived notions and baggage that does us no good or hinders our progress/process.

One such piece of baggage is that many of us have been told by people who are not trying to aid our creative process (from a developmental standpoint at least), but instead be supportive, perhaps from a protective and often nurturing perspective, yet regardless of of the facts, that our work is “good”… the bad part is that our ego often listens happily.

This can make us shy away from newer, less “safe” processes. It can also lead to us holding onto old work that received praise and not moving forward and making new works.

Through these ingrained behaviours it is very possible to hem oneself into an incredibly comfortable, but incredibly small way of working, well before we have explored all the alternatives.

This is often NOT ONLY because we are comfortable working in this way, but because we fear trying something new as it might fail… and of course, and particularly at school/college/university there might be people watching.

Milton Glaser, the author of Drawing IS Thinking, explains this fear in more detail here:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/23285699″>Milton Glaser – on the fear of failure.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/berghsexhibition11″>Berghs&#8217; Exhibition ’11</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Milton Glaser on The Fear of Failure and Personal Development
“Art school often begins with the Ayn Rand model of the single personality (i.e. YOU) resisting the ideas of the surrounding culture (your peers and the Staff in many cases).
The theory of the avant garde is that as an individual you can transform the world, which is true up to a point [however] One of the signs of a damaged ego is absolute certainty.
Schools encourage the idea of not compromising and defending your work at all costs. Well, the issue at work is usually all about the nature of compromise. You just have to know what to compromise. Blind pursuit of your own ends which excludes the possibility that others may be right does not allow for the fact that in design we are always dealing with a triad – the client, the audience and you.

…you can find more useful advice, this time from Ira Glass on the same subject >HERE<

One place to explore ideas without fear of judgement, or worrying over being too precious, is your sketchbook.


The link below looks at how you might use your sketchbook/daybook, and what you might put in them.

The Creative Sketchbook or “Day Book”

Part 3 – Pareidolia – Traditional & Digital

One of the exercises/tasks for the creative that requires a constant addressing and readdressing of the fear of failure is the inertia that kicks in when confornted withThe Blank Page, or how to begin the blemishing of the latest white page/canvass/photoshop screen you have had set in front of you.

This has presented many a embryonic creative with issues to the point were the phenomena of “artists block” is often discussed on forums and FB art pages.

The lack of ideas of immediate subjects things to draw/paint/conceptualise from the imagination cannot be allowed to affect the creative process. In a professional capacity, waiting to be inspired, or for the right mood, is not something that will endear you to art directors or studio leads (or their bosses) who are working to a tight deadline.

You’ll need some tips and tricks to sidestep that block.

One, as we have discussed in brief, is to begin to broaden your “Personal Micro-culture”; Start to be come interested.

Don’t NOT look something up. DO record the names of works and artists you admire. DON’T be apathetic in your creative life. NO ONE will give you all, or much at all of what you need, YOU have to reach out (and sometimes leave the house/studio, get a different point of view) and take it for yourself.

See this chart also – Student Survey on Reading Habits (there is a newer version of this in the works with a much higher study group) – which side of the line are you on?

Two is not waiting for inspiration, but taking direct action instead.

doodle sketches 002x

Create something without thinking, and let that be the first step.

Then by examining this experimental work in progress, AS we create it, we may begin to see ways of moving forward that are more controlled.

For the purposes of this session we can describe one such method as “Pareidolia Exercises”.

Pareidolia  – a term that encompasses the Greek words para, suggesting that something is wrongfaultyinstead of, or substituted in error, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape.

Essentially it can be seen as the mistaking of one shape or set of shapes for another. As humans this may have at one time been of evolutionary benefit to recognise patterns in visual phenomena far away, in shadow or out of the corner of ones eye in order to survive, whether pitted against other humans, animals or other threats .

Pareidolia is also discussed in both >THIS< BBC article, or >THIS< Live Science page.

Pareidolia is a type of Apophenia, which is a more generalised term for seeing patterns in random data, a phenomena I believe plays a fundamental part in the act of “creativity”.

Apophenia is the 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.

This Patternicity is “hard-wired” in us, and in a contemporary setting where we are confronted with exceptional circumstances such as rapid advancement of technology, human adaptation and evolution of their environment and living in super-tribes. See >THIS< very contemporary example of Patternicity.

The creative employment of this phenomena relies on your ability to “let go” and free yourself of worries about outcomes, at least with the first marks you make.

It also relies on the idea that some of these outcomes may not work, or have to be abandoned.

So what do I mean by “the creative employment of” Pareidolia.

1 – In terms of starting points for imagery and characters we are looking at >THIS<

2 –  In terms of visualisation for Games and Animation, we are looking at idea development tricks like >THIS<

3 – An although it is a common skill/technique to employ amongst concept artists in Games and other entertainment media, the use of it goes back many years – See >HERE<

4 – And its not limited to traditional media. Here’s a Pareidolia Exercise being employed in Photoshop.

and another… >HERE<

Part 4 – Paraedolia to generate Concept Art sketches


The links below all show concept art sketches developed very rapidly (and to be fair that’s the point, building your workflows speed).

1 – Aircraft Carrier Shanty Town

2 – Japanese Characters

…and finally, with a little more control – This Dystopian Future Cityscape

Part 5 – The Lost Line Method 

Another manifestation of this phenomena is our ability to fill in gaps, or see gaps in brush marks as identifiable elements.

Lost Line Technique

The two examples by Mike Yamada >HERE< in the lower left of the right hand page – taken from the excellent book THE SKILLFUL HUNTSMAN are good examples of spaces between marks that are readable as actual elements of the costume (despite in truth, there being nothing there).

You can see it again >HERE< in the work of Laura Jennings (droemar on DevArt).

>HERE< Mike (above) shows how his work is developed from silhouette, to more detailed images through the adding of white marks.

Part 6 – Thumbnails

Another area where you have to be un-precious in your work are creative thumbnails.

x Stuff 016

These are small sketches that allow you explore a wide range of possible compositions or approaches, before finally committing to more complex and time consuming visuals. EACH IS ALWAYS SHOULD EXHIBIT INTENTION AND PURPOSEFULNESS, and yet many will remain unresolved or undeveloped (hence the unpreciousness).

x Stuff 015

They tend to be quick in execution, they tend also to be great evidence of your thinking actually happening on the paper… or as Milton Glaser might have it:

Ian McQue, a concept artist who has worked in games design as well as a number of other areas, shows in his thumbnails how he explores similar imagery or concepts from thumbnail to thumbnail but with subtle changes in composition and lighting, position of primary actors.

You can find thumbnails interspaced amongst his more finished work published to the internet >HERE<

Mark Molnar is a concept artist/illustrator specialising in visual development and pre-production design for entertainment media. >HERE< he looks at developing thumbnails as part of the character design process.

For NEXT WEEK, have some pareidolia exercises on your blogs/in your sketch books…

Oh and we’ll also be looking at how to create things like this…


and this…


and a little bit of this…

Adding a little colour – https://apopheniainc.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/observational-drawings-of-solitary-objects/

Books on Drawing – https://apopheniainc.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/book-list-001-artdrawing/




~ by hesir on October 1, 2014.

3 Responses to “Drawing & Traditional Rendering 2 – inc “Pareidolia” (Work in Progress).”

  1. […] Part two of this double seminar can be found here – Drawing & Traditional Rendering 2 – inc Pareidolia […]

  2. […] – Basic Drawing for Entertainment Media 2 Seminar Notes 2 […]

  3. […] for good examples of ways to present this information, I’ve taken some strong notes from this interesting post on process by Gareth Sleightholme. Thanks for helping me refine by example, […]

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