Slow Cook Tea Warmer Recipes


Tea warmer + Ramekin + nice smelly ingredients = Long lasting air freshener

A strange post I know but about two years ago I looked up “Slow Cooker Air Freshener”. I love the smell of slow cooker food and I had an idea for an essential oils blend version. This was where I first saw the Ramekin slow cooker recipes for air fresheners but it seems not as many people get adventurous with it. Everyone kind of sticks to the standard, cinnamon stick, cloves and orange slice with peel recipe. It’s nice and all but there’s so many others you can try.

Here are a few of my favourite recipes. Though you can kind of do this in a regular oil burner, a Ramikin is best. I use my teapot warmer and find it can freshen up to a quarter of my house which is quite impressive given the size and design of my home.

A quick note, always use cold water.

Lemony Lavender

1 whole cutting of lavender, leaves, flowers, stems and all. (You could also use half this, depending on the size of your lavender bush. The leaves tend to shrink a bit.)

5 Lemon Myrtle Leaves (if no lemon myrtle, lemon peel is a good substitute or lemon essential oil 3-5 drops)

Water (I prefer to use distilled water)

This blend is refreshingly relaxing. It’s a very positive smell and bound to earn compliments.

Lemony Rosemary

1 Sprig of Rosemary

5 Lemon Myrtle leaves or lemon peel or lemon essential oil. 3-5 drops.

Water

This blend I find makes my family hungry. Everyone loves the Rosemary smell mixed with lemon. It’s a bright and uplifting smell. Some have commented that it gives them a bit of a boost of energy.

Lavender Rosemary and Myrtle

1 Lavender stalk. Use only the lavender leaves. Basically all the green parts plus stems.

1 Sprig of Rosemary

3-5 Lemon Myrtle leaves (Best to use Myrtle)

Water

This is lemony with a stronger rosemary undertone. For whatever reason the green leaves of lavender can smell very similar to rosemary. It’s not quite the same but it sort of is. This recipe appears to be the most popular. It’s warm, citrusy and gentle.

Rose

Fresh, first thing in the morning rose. Dark red gives the best scent.

Water

Try to use the whole rose. If you don’t have access, regular old rose tea will do. This is a slow and gentle freshener. It takes a while to heat up, the smell slowly disperses throughout the room and gently fades after a while. Can be reheated but may not produce the same amount of smell.

Lavender

Lavender flowers, fresh or dried

Water

Much the same as the rose recipe. Goes will in bathrooms. I recommend bruising the flowers for a quicker smell.

Full Lavender

Whole lavender. Leaves, flowers, stem.

Water

Produces a lovely lavender smell with a rosemary like hint. Very nice, very gentle and relaxing. Of course you might nit to chop it up a fair bit. For best results, bruise the flowers.

Not Quite Lemon

Lemon Leaves (as much as you can fit, chopped up)

Water

This is a very delicate and gentle lemon smell. It lasts longer than the lemon peels and travels far throughout the home. I’ve had many compliments for this blend because it’s pleasant but not overpowering. It’s good for those times where you want a hint of smell to make your home seem a little fresher even though it’s already clean.

Not Quite Lime

Lime Leaves (as much as you can fit, chopped up)

Water

Pretty much the same results. Can be reused up to about 3 times.

Plain Rosemary

1-2 Rosemary sprigs

Rosemary flowers (if in bloom)

Water

Slow cooking this is very nice. I do find it tends to make my family hungry and I start getting requests to cook more roast lamb.

Cinnamon

1-3 Sticks of cinnamon

Water

I think this goes under appreciated. It’s spicy, warm and just smells delicious. Very nice and strong smelling and disperses slowly through the air. It takes a long time to extract from the wood but it can be reused multiple times before it wears off.

Cinnamon Star

1-2 Cinnamon sticks

4-6 Star Anise seed pods

4 Cardamon pods (Optional)

Warm and slightly licorice scented. Refreshing and pleasant.

Clary Sage

Leaves and Flowers (enough to fit half way in the ramekin)

Water

I love clary sage. I love the smell. It’s definitely an underappreciated herb. I’d describe it as strong, pleasant and very herbal smelling. Being slow cook style, it progressively gets stronger as you let it do it’s thing. Best used in a large room. I prefer the kitchen or dining room.

Patchouli

Use the leaves, fresh or dried

Water (cold)

Beautiful and musky, it’s a very pleasant scent to slow cook just for the smell of it.

 

So far, these are all my favourites. They’re all quick and easy and most of these I’m either growing or can find in the pantry. I started using these because I’m sick of chemicals and sick from using stuff in cans and bottles from the shop. That and I am a very allergic person.

I love smells and perfumes but I’m horrendously allergic to so many. Using these I get all the benefits of it being safe to use, organic without the harmful chemicals or allergic reactions. With commercial stuff I get either asthma, heyfever or a combination of both.

Even though this isn’t a new or original idea, it does seem to me that a lot of people are unaware of just how much they can do with a simple tealight candle and a few items from their garden or cupboard and get hours of refreshing smells without harming anyone.

Air fresheners don’t have to be complicated and they certainly don’t have to be expensive. I love making them and I absolutely recommend giving it a try. Especially if you love a particular herb. Slow cook it in some cold water in a ramekin and see what happens. You might be surprised!

 

Let’s Talk About Aloe Vera


To start off I have to start this out with something depressing. Over the last few months my Aunty has been getting increasingly sick. First kidney stones and now she’s tested positive for bowel cancer.

Her sister (My mother) rang up and asked me first for a home remedy for kidney stones until she can get some surgery to remove it because apparently it’s quite large. She needed it to shrink. This lead me to looking up two things:

  1. Me researching Aloe Vera more thoroughly, because my prior knowledge was limited. But I knew it had an awful lot of vitamins.
  2. Me researching Apple Cider Vinegar again. Again previous knowledge, I knew it could help break the stone up, which apparently it did indeed do just that.

Within a week of store bought aloe vera inner gel juice and the cider vinegar (taken separately) her stones were breaking up and passing yet she’d been dealing with it for at least 2yrs.

In the mean time I’ve been looking up other uses for Aloe Vera and I’ve discovered so much it’s just incredible. I’m simply amazed with it’s various uses.

One thing I want to mention straight off the bat about the “negative research results”. Those results were from experiments done with a concentrated extract, not the inner gel. This means all of it, the whole leaf. The sap wasn’t removed and most people that use it, wash it off and so you should, it is after all a well known irritant. I just wanted to mention this because I know someone might comment with concerns and don’t worry I looked thoroughly. I’m only talking about inner leaf uses in this post.

My mum for her own health, after all the stuff I looked up and researched about Aloe Vera, among many other things, implanted the idea in my had that I should follow this up and see about doing herbal medicine. And I just might because I enjoy it and remember it.

Also she now wants to try some fresh aloe vera for herself. But there is only one problem. The large aloe we have, I have yet to accurately identify it and as far as online help goes, everywhere and every professionals advise¬†one key identifier and that is the check it’s flowers. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a local professional to look at it in person but I’m confident that if I can get it to flower, I’ll know exactly what it is.

So, I thought back. It’s never flowered. But it’s also never been this healthy in over 10yrs since we have had it. The current large aloe vera I have appears to me to be an Aloe Vera Barbandensis but there’s a slight chance it’s something else. So far it’s grown at an incredible speed. I thought I couldn’t rescue this one and previous reviews and advice didn’t help much. So this time I winged it and I’m glad I did.

First of all I repotted it to a better healthier pot and regular well draining potting mix. It went well. Very surprising. Then I repotted it again in a good quality Cactus mix from Bunnings and in a much larger and wider pot.

I am surprised at the depth of this one’s roots. Then I pulled off each and every pup that surfaced. It’s leaves were brownish, reddish, orange from sunburn. There was shrivelling dead leaves. I cut off all dead leaves and leaves with holes but I did this slowly. Not in one hit. I cut off one and waited for a new one to show then cut off another so on and so forth. In about two months for the FIRST time I had straight aloe vera leaves. Fresh new ones grew in and they were beautiful and healthy.

It was this very reason that I never thought it was an aloe vera. I had never, not once ever seen it grow straight leaves. They always curled. Even if the odd green one came, it curled.

Previously it was my Nan’s, then my mothers and now it’s mine. It has always been orange or curly. I’ve learned on my own that it was too dry. Too dry in summer, too wet in winter and not in a wide or deep enough pot. All the wrong things you can do to an aloe vera apparently.

By the time I got to it after the 5months of being homeless until they removed the tree from our house and we waited for it to be fixed, there was 5 of them smooshed together in the one pot by the time I got to it. And I didn’t touch it for the first few months of being home. It was a sad sight indeed. There was roughly one whole aloe vera for each month we were gone.

I had, before the storm hit, recently moved it under the Mulberry tree for shade and started caring for it and getting it green. When I came home I found it not only moved but the painters had WASHED their brushes over my aloe vera. I was raging! I mean honestly, how dare they!!

Anyway, I took the healthiest and started from there. This is where a mixture of fun and not so fun came into play.

At first after repotting it twice, the second time in the healthier potting mix, it started dying. I added a bit of compost and soy milk refuse and home made soy milk with a bit of water and it shot up several inches in a week. That’s how I discovered that aloe vera, despite popular belief, loves a bit of food.

But I didn’t want to over do it. Then for a while it was looking unhappy again so I moved it to just outside my front door. I like it there, it’s quite attractive. So now it gets a mix of full sun and passing shade.

I’ve been tending to it for a few months now. Around January this year so close to 5months of care. It’s no longer got holes. No longer has brown anything. It’s healthy all the way to the tips and it’s sprouting healthy pups.

Sometimes if I feel it needs it I feed it with a mix of Seasol and Power Feed diluted below the minimum recommended ration. I have it so the water just looks like filthy water, not dark like it can look and I serve it up in a regular empty water bottle. Roughly 600ml and pour it around the roots but not on the leaves. I read both of these feeders can burn leaves so yeah. I like to keep my water bottles for my yard since watering cans (can never find a tin one) always go brittle from sun damage. I am always leaving them outside. I can’t trust myself.

Right now, I am doing whatever it takes to get this thing to flower. My Aunty told me they flower in the summer which was a bit disappointing for me because well, it’s the end of Autumn right now. I’m hoping it might sprout a flower in spring.

This was the most difficult thing to find an answer too as well since all the Answers were for Americans whom asked this question. You would think with all the gardening groups and forums, at least one person in Australia grows them and can tell you. So far from what I can tell, a happy Aloe Vera will flower, a sad one won’t and it will flower when it wants to, not when you want it to.

So basically now all I have to do is keep an eye on it and feed it when it’s not looking as dark and green and lush. I think since reviving it, at first I feed it about 4 times in the first two months. I haven’t feed it in 3 months and it’s doing great. I don’t plan to feed it until it shows signs of need it.

Each feeding I gave it, I made it weaker and weaker. Almost like a nutritive weaning for a plant. The thing about aloe vera is it stores up so much of it’s own nutrients almost like it’s own personal reserves, which is what makes it so easy to over feed it just as it’s easy to over water it. Whatever you plan to feed your aloe vera, make sure it’s fairly week and doesn’t cause or increase moisture. For example, don’t put lots of tea leaves. They tend to keep your pot moist increasing chances of root rot.

I’ve learned a lot over the last 5months. I bought another Aloe from Bunning but it wasn’t labelled properly and turned out to be a hybrid that we can’t identify and though it says medicinal, it doesn’t mention if it’s topical only. I think it’s a hybrid of a Haworthia but I’m not totally sure because like I said, not labelled well. Being a hybrid, I think that’s an important peice of info to put on the tag.

Mine died though. I had it inside and the damned cat knocked it down 4 times. By the fourth time it died of plant shock. But now my big aloe is sprouting pups, I’ve found myself replanting those instead. Because even if it’s not the Aloe Vera Barbadensis that I want, it’s still a very attractive plant and I’ve enjoyed taking care of it. I like too that it’s safe to forget about it and it won’t be dead. I mean 10+ yrs of neglect has proven that.

Looking back I feel bad for not caring for it but I was a teenager and not interested. That and for some reason I only enjoyed growing tomatoes and chilli bushes. The latter being the strangest since I use to hate chillies and anything spicy. Loved growing the plant though. For me it was a great beginner plant. Mine grew as tall as me, 5ft. My cat, a ginger tabby, loved eating them fresh off the bush. He was so weird. If we brought them inside mum loved it when I left her chillies near the kettle. The damned cat would play with and then eat them by the time I turned my back.

But enough about that. When it comes to handling aloe vera, I’m serious about the lack of plant care. I not once with the exception of like a few rare times of watering it, when it was mums, none of us used to take care of it. We had no use for it and it was frequently forgotten about and my father didn’t know how to care for it so we did nothing with it.

We received it in around 2004 or 2005. And though it’s not the original, but a pup that grew and was replaced by another pup when the mature one died, it’s still alive. And I think that’s incredible.

I am fairly certain of what type it is now that it’s healthy. It’s white spots had me confused. I later found out that mature aloe has no spots but fresh or young aloe vera has white spots.

It’s the first time I ever saw it’s spots as well. But now as it matures the spots are fading which is making me relax a little. It’s also the thickest and the widest it’s ever been with healthy thorns and healthy tips. Previously the tips would be dead by a good inch or two.

Standing in the shallow pot, the Aloe now reaches my hips (which isn’t impressive considering I’m only 5ft tall). It’s never been so tall. This is also important to me to find out because it’s max height also tells me which spices of Aloe it might be.

Another thing I noticed that use to make me question if it was aloe vera, when it was healthy-ish and still a bit curly it’s leaves were always under 30cm no matter what was done to it. Opening it up it smelled strongly of onions. I looked this up and not one answer was given as to why or if it was not an aloe. Then I looked it up again this year. More and more people are saying theirs smells like onion as well. This information made me relax because these people had a proper aloe vera with their tag and experienced growers confirmed the type of aloe but everyone was baffled about it’s smell. Someone suggested it was root rot. So I kept that in mind.

Since repotting it in healthier soil and making it healthy it no longer smells strongly of onions and basically smelling disgusting. It does still have a similar smell but I’ve come to find it’s the natural smell of the green skin. Now that my aloe is healthy, it’s not so oniony but similar to onions if that makes sense. Before you cut it off and you’re like “Whooooa yuck”, you could smell it almost instantly. It was pungent and sickening and definitely not what you would want to put on your skin. Now if I cut a piece off, you have to hold it to your nose to smell it’s somewhat oniony smell. It’s very mild.

My only conclusion is, change the soil, your aloe is probably unhappy. And I doubt it’s the sap. I have actually gotten more sap, even from same sized leaves as from when it was small and it still smells better than my old sad aloe. And a healthy aloe is a dark to medium green. I’ve come to find if it’s going pale and feels mushy it’s over watered and under fed. A healthy aloe should also be firm and thick with no marks.

I’ve also come to find that “bitter” aloe is smelly. In some way or another it’s smelly in a “fresh greens” kind of way, but it shouldn’t be pungent. If it’s pungent, it’s not very healthy. And to clarify that I mean your plant is unhealthy, I don’t mean it’s going off or going bad, it just needs some treatment if it’s smelling funky after you cut it up.

I also found out that although it’s self healing, you can still put your plant in shock. Though difficult to do with aloe vera, it’s still very possible. So, with that in mind don’t thrash your aloe if you repot it. Whilst researching and watching a few (hundred) videos on Youtube, I came across some very rough gardeners. So… handle with care. It is a living thing after all.

All that rambling aside, I’ve had an interesting year with aloe vera and learning all about it. I’m also going to continue growing it. From past experiences, I’ve noticed aloe vera tends to choke itself with it’s pups so if anyone that knows me, wants some free aloe vera, mine seems to be making 1-4 a week right now ūüėČ But seriously, if you see pups, take them and move them because it gets big fast and eventually chokes the mother plant.

Lately just because of the flowers and how tall it gets I’ve been considering getting Aloe Vera Ferox. I really like those red flowers and some of the photo’s I’ve seen of it looking like a small tree makes me think it might be a good plant to grow along side one of my fences for a bit of extra privacy and to attract some more birds.

But there’s a few things about it that puts me off. I read somewhere about someone having red sap or dark sap coming out of theirs and causing irritation and I do so very much like to get into my garden without gloves on (very bad of me I know). And if I’m going to dive in and get grazes I really don’t want any irritation to go with it. Buuuut knowing me I’ll likely get a baby one and try and grow it. But again, my front yard might not be best unless it’s in a pot considering how soggy our soil can get. Only one way to find out though right?

That’s the funniest thing with aloe vera, it’s inner clear gel heals and treats itching and scrapes yet it’s thorns and yellow saps grazes and causes itching and in some people inflammation on the skin which I later found out to be a latex allergy. Me personally, no irritation to the aloe I have, or it’s natural latex. But I frequently graze myself on it’s thorns. I’m clumsy that way. Just with what I’ve heard about it being more potent, it just worries me a little. I don’t like handling things that can cause itching or effect sensitive skin.

After all I wrote and rambled about, I think it’s time to end this post or it will go on even longer. Because honestly I could keep talking about it and my new found experiences. What I would like to end this with is, I have found a website of an Australian herbal nursery and they happen to supply medicinal aloe vera. Tomorrow I plan to buy two pots of it. One for myself and one for my Aunty. Wish me luck guys and when I get it, I’ll make a post and with photo’s this time. I might update this with some photo’s but no promises.

 

Knitting With Chopsticks


This was something I did in the 90’s as a kid. I started knitting around the age or 6 or 7. My favourite was s small circular loom because it was easy and the results were fast. However being a kid I frequently lost my plastic knitting needles.

My alternatives (being mostly poor growing up) Chopsticks or HB pencils. But there is the ever pressent issue of the burs causing a problem. Sticky tape doesn’t work well and not all of us have some kind of varnish. My solution has always been to dip my homemade knitting needle in nail polish.

The nail polish also helps make the chopstick ends a little more slippery and it covers all loose burs that can pull on your wool. But being a chopstick you will likey end up with an odd shaped uneven work. I prefer pencils. I generally scribbly them blunt and polish them.

I would share a photo but I can only take pic’s with my phone at the moment and nowhere nice to take a snap but if I take a good pic I’ll update this post for sure.

I’ve seen a lot of suggestions but none for using nail polish. It’s simple, cheap and effective when you’re in a bind and can’t go out and buy a new set of needles. You can also colour your homemade needles anyway you like as well. I use to stipple mine. I haven’t done it in years until yesterday when I realised all my knitting needles were gone.

I dug through my drawers, grabbed a sharpener and sharpened my chopsticks. After I got them as sharp as I liked I used a nail file to sand them smooth. Then I just simply dipped them one by one in my nail polish bottle. I just use a cup to stand it upright to dry but I find blue-tac works well too.

I’ve now started a new project. It’s been semi successful. Mostly a lot of restarting. I’ve been crocheting for years on and off and more or less forgot everything about knitting except 3 ways to cast on.

Anyway I thought I’d share that little tid bit with you guys. Some of you might find it interesting.

 

Lemon Leaf Tea


Will looking up homemade multipurpose cleaner I wondered if I could do the same with lemon tree leaves. I already knew they were non toxic and I assumed they had all the goodness of lemons. Plus my tree has only just started to bare fruit. The fruit is far to young to pick. That’s how I stumbled onto posts about lemon tree leaf tea or lime leaf tea. I looked it up some more and did some research before trying it out

I was very pleasantly surprised. I would like to research it some more though. It tasted like lemon flavouring without any acidity or bitterness. It was very mild and very nice with honey.

I really enjoy trying out new teas like this. Especially natural tea or tea you can make at home. I plan to buy some dwarf fruit trees this year. Mostly orange, pink lady apple and a lime tree. I’m also sick of some of the rediculous prices. Having lived somewhere that use to grow oranges I know that quite often leaving them on the tree is like self storage. It feels as though it fruits all year round and I miss having that luxury of fresh non-chemically treated fruit.

Last year I got a food dehydrator and started making orange chips. I thought about it though and decided I’d rather be doing it with home grown oranges. Fortunately Bunnings still sells miniature fruit trees from time to time. They currently have a lime tree so that’s the first thing I’m going to buy this week.

 

Frustrated Plus Some Blender Hotkeys


[UPDATED Hotkeys added]

[Warning: Frustrated rambling. Skip to the pink heading to find the helpful info below]

It’s love hate with Blender for me. I really want max but it’s literally impossible. With how much it costs AUD, it’s never going to happen. I’ve been doing 3D solo with no schooling on and off for a couple of years, seriously in the last 2yrs. If I had to sum up all the time I’ve spent and read, I have about a year of work under my belt and that makes me sad because well imagine if I had the opportunity to go to school right. But I learned a lot. Most of it the hard way.

However before the last version came out, I was using a version of Blender that was before tabs were introduced. I personally hate the tabs and I wish there was a revert to old UI (if there is please tell me), but what annoys me most is some subtle changes in hotkeys that I use frequently and no real warning about these changes until about a week later, however some people close with development have been releasing detailed info on the changes but sometimes it would be nice if there was a constantly updated newsletter to subscribe to about such changes in stead of blog after blog that usually gives up on posting (sorry for the random rant).

To anyone knew to Blender, a new version pops up literally every year sometimes 2-3 times a year. The development team are always working hard so if you find a version you like, don’t worry because that version is always available to download despite it’s age if you upgrade and change your mind and want to go back. That’s one of the real beauties of blender. Also, I highly recommend going on youtube and searching “What’s new in Blender “whatever version you’re using” to find out the latest changes and new features. Main reason I recommend it is because not only are the videos short and sweet but they usually mention in them any major features that were dropped or added.

This is what I mean by love hate. It’s powerful, fast and relatively easy to learn, especially in comparison to certain Autodesk products. As far as performance, Max use to lag for me even on min specs doing low poly but Blender rarely lags even for some pretty high poly and intense work, and I can push my work to levels I can’t in other professional apps. But at the same time, trying to find the updated hotkeys list and other such info on the latest version can sometimes be like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. But what really kills it is the high and mighty attitude of the community towards newcomers. I do not recommend going to forums for Blender help if you are new, they can be quite rude and all things opposite of helpful. I do however recommend going to youtube before anywhere else. Don’t even bother with a Google search, just go to youtube first and you’ll likely find your answers there.

I highly, highly recommend anything by Johnathan Williamson. And I also recommend joining Blender Cookie. There’s some incredible tutorials on there.

It’s like I said though, sometimes I love Blender and everything about it and other times it just frustrated the heck out of me. But that’s enough complaining. I decided for my own personal use and to help out others that I’d list some Blender Hotkeys that I know for certain work. A lot of these I found by mistake.

Hotkeys!!

So below are some of the hotkeys and tools I frequently use in Blender and how to use them:

All of these are in Edit Mode with the exception on Spacebar and alt+C

ctrl + R and hover the area. A pink line will appear looping the area. This is good to if you screw up your edge loops and you want to check it. Left click to OK it, then move and position it and left click again. If you want it in the centre instead of positioning it, right click and it will insert in the centre.

Screenshot 2015-02-09 21.15.13

ctrl + E to bring up a pop up menu for other various things to do with edgesScreenshot 2015-02-09 21.15.48

Hold SHIFT while selecting which mode to select multiple modes. Example: Face select mode and vertex mode are both enabled in the lower picture after holding select and clicking both icons. I can now edit my model by each vertex or face instead of changing modes one at a time. (Love this feature)

Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.19.02

E to Extrude (no picture for this one)

Shift + E to make an edge crease. This one took me forever to find because I could only find the hotkey for old blender not new and I found this one by mistake while I was using ctrl + R.

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Spacebar for quick search. You can find almost all the commands you need if you can’t find them in the menus.

Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.24.42

A select all and A again to deselect all. C for brush select, right click to get out of selection brush mode and keep selection or enter. B for Marquee select. Lastly L. L selects a whole object. Say for example you have a sphere inside an eye socket and for whatever reason you want to remove it or move it from your joined mesh. Selecting a vert and then pressing L should select the sphere. You can then use P to separate by selection.

Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.26.32

W for some of the most used and important features. Most people only use it for sub D and Smooth (also known as Relax in other programs).

Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.28.11

crtl + B + drag I’m not sure what it’s called but it’s useful especially when making eyes.

Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.30.33

S to scale, R to rotate, G to grab/move. It’s sometimes ideal to turn on proportional editing when using grab while SubD is on. If you enable proportional editing, use the mouse wheel to expand the area of effect. Below is where to find proportional editing and when it’s turned on. Also, when using any of these if you follow straight after with X, Y¬†or Z¬†before you move your mouse you can snap it to the specified axis. For example press G then Z to move along¬†on the Z axis only.

Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.33.06Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.33.31

H too hide and Alt+ H to unhide. The number of times I have hidden something and didn’t know as a newbie, is astonishing. Finding out about alt H was a life saver. (No image for this one. No point because it would be invisible.)

K to cut and Enter when you are satisfied with your cuts otherwise, right click to cancel. Now this one is tricky as well to describe. The knife tool goes in an un-breaking line much like the slice tool in Max, except you can break the knife path by pressing E. Below are to examples of using knife and then using knife after pressing E.

Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.37.50Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.39.02

P to separate by selection. I use this one a lot. Usually I make the head whole then I select the scalp area and separate it. It turns it into a separate object which I usually use for a base for hair and then later delete it to keep it low poly. It’s really useful to use.

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If you’re constantly setting the pivot in weird places press Shift+ C to recenter the pivot. For anything else such as placing the cursor yourself and snapping the object to it, the easiest way is just to hit Spacebar¬†and type the word “cursor” and navigate from there. But if you’re new to Blender you will be constantly misplacing the 3D cursor or pivot. (no image for this one)

Alt+C to convert too. Very useful if you use grease pencil a lot or nurbs. (no image for this shortcut)

Alt + M to merge selection.

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F to fill face. If you’re super new, you need to have at least 2 verts selected. You can make an edge, a tri or a quad with this shortcut. (No image for this one.)

Click middle mouse button to rotate object view. (No image for this one.)

Shift+ clicking middle mouse button to pan view. (No image for this one.)

Middle mouse button scroll to zoom. (No image for this one.)

ctrl+ G to assign Vertex groups.

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USEFUL ADDONS! MUST have for saving time:

LoopTools:¬†Go to file>> User Preferences>> Addons and type in the word “Loop” in the quick search bar. As shown below. Make sure to hit Save user settings then close and enjoy this amazing addon.

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Now press W¬†in edit mode and there will be the new LoopTools at the top of the menu. This is excellent for neatening up topology among many other uses. Below shows the new menu and the use of make circle in use. Great tools, I highly recommend using them. Of course it’s not perfect but it can be an incredible time saver.

Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.54.06 Snap 2015-02-09 at 21.56.03

I also recommend, but only if you have the specs to run them ¬†becuase having too many addons can slow down Blender’s performance, IvyGen, Sapling, Simplify Curves, Bsurfaces (if you can figure out how to use it), F2, Import image as plane, Mesh Relax and Freestyle SVG exporter.

But that’s all I know so far as far as hotkeys that work in current Blender. Which, as of writing this is 2.73

If you have any hotkeys that you think I’ve missed and would like added please do leave them in a comment below for others to find and use.

Zbrush Daily Sculpt Challenge: Can I do It?


I probably can’t but I’m about to try! First up, Darius. I’m going to post how far I got in zbrush and then what I painted over in photoshop. Incase you’re wondering he’s a Vampire from one of my stories.

So below will take you to the full image of the painted over version plus the WIP renders of how far I’ve gotten. I do apologise if it’s too dark for some.

http://draconianrain.deviantart.com/art/Darius-511256803

InDesign What I Love About It As A Comic Artist


I know what some of you might be thinking. But it is one of the best programs that I ever subscribed to. Some of you know or a little while I was self publishing on Lulu.com and during that year I spent almost a year trying to get it to upload correctly until one day I’d had enough and subscribed to InDesign. Later I upgraded my adobe package to all apps. But it was the best thing I ever did.

I no longer have the bleed issues I once had and for those of you that publish comics, you will know the exact pain and annoyance I am talking about. I tried with everything to alleviate it but nothing worked. I tried OpenOffice, Word, Photoshop and even GIMP but nothing was going right. I still had major issues with the bleed being to thick, to short or my art getting cut off in the spine or off the page edges.

The main problems I was having was when it came to resizing. As a comic artist I have to work at 1200dpi for various reasons the main one being quality and screentone range. That’s usually around 8000px by 12000 px or so per page. When I finally started using InDesign my headaches (literally) we far less. Being able to set up the perfect template bleed, drag and drop and not loose image quality was by far the best part for me.

Aligning, numbering, watermarking and exporting became a breeze. These are all the reasons as to why I have come to love it. If it wasn’t so hard to get the perfect bleed for publishing in Photoshop and loosing image quality then I probably wouldn’t have found or needed it but it’s so important that it’s almost critical.

I can’t even begin to describe the hell I went through plus the money in carbon copies. I have such good faith in InDesign that I only buy one carbon copy knowing that it’s going to be perfect anyway. And I recommend it to anyone that is a writer or comic artist or any other desktop publishing career. It’s absolutely worth it and worth learning.

The only downside for me was the inital learning curve. At first it wasn’t too bad since I had learned Adobe Illustrator the prior to using InDesign but it was hard for me (as an artist) to get use to all the new tools and terminology. But it was worth it. It’s a program that keeps paying off. Not only that but since it’s so widely use you can always acquire a job or freelancing work with inDesign.

Overall it’s a great tool. If you have something else that you use that you think is better or just as good please do leave your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure others would as well.

 

Happy Blogging!!