Creative Futures – Pareidolia

One of our first Creative Futures sessions was about the idea of Pareidolia. Pareidolia is the process of seeing things in objects where they do not initially exist. This happens in every day life when we see faces in clouds and patterns in floor tiles. This is a very useful tool when designing things as it allows you to come up with things from scribbling what would initially appear to be nonsensical lines onto a piece of paper (rapid prototyping).

Let’s say, for instance, that you are tasked with designing some arms for a mech-like character. This may, at first, seem daunting. Most likely due to the level of detail involved with this kind of artwork. It is actually fairly simple to use pareidolia to quickly come up with something that you can use to start creating these arms. Simply use a magic marker or a highlighting pen to make some marks on your page in the general shape of what it is you are creating, then study the markings you have made to identify shapes within these.

That’s not to say that this is limited to just drawing arms. You can use this technique to come up with literally anything. It’s a case of experimentation and picking out which versions you like.

I have done the following exercise not only to demonstrate this, but to practice using this as a means to quickly come up with designs.

Pareidolia Exercise - David Smith, 2013

Pareidolia Exercise – David Smith, 2013

1) This appeared to me as a gun. I’m not entirely sure what the shards are on the barrel of the gun, but I still think it looks pretty cool.

2) This turned out to be a pretty cool looking great sword. I can picture this having a fairly ornate design if I was to develop it further.

3) This is possibly my favourite of the exercise. It is a robot fish (you may have to tilt your head to the left to see it). It reminds me a lot of the “Masher” badnik from Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s Emerald Hill Zone.

4) This reminds me of some kind of futuristic motorbike. One of the really cool things about this is that the design in the middle of the bike looks sort of like a face, perhaps indicating that this could be some kind of character?

5) This was a difficult one for me. I don’t particularly like the way it turned out, but it does look sort of like a sawed off shotgun.

6) I wasn’t entirely sure what to make with this, but I was able to make a piece of graffiti out of it which says “Dave”.

7) Again, this was difficult for me. I managed to salvage it by discovering a dragon-like figure out of it. Not particularly happy with this one.

So as you can see, results can and will vary using this. It is however a great starting point for designing things, especially if you are unsure where to start.

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