Cleaning and Home Tips

This will be bullet points of things I have learned or been taught.

  • Use epsom salts to clean your washing machine. Do  it once a month.I am allergic to a lot of products and I have found itching and irritation from using commercial cleaners whereas epsom salts are harmless and good to soak in when you’re in the tub, so it makes sense to use it as a cleaner (funnily enough I find it good to soak in epsom salts and my tub comes out a little cleaner each time and leaves my skin soft).

    First, empty your lint filter and clean it thoroughly. I set my machine to full and put in about 1 cup to 1 1/2 in a cool wash cycle on regular. Ideally you should do this on warm or hot but it kills our electricity bill. I don’t really notice much of a decline in cleaning quality when I use cold but if you haven’t done it in a long time you’ll want to use hot water to help get rid of the soap scum and build up in both your machine and it’s pipes and if you’ve NEVER done it, do it on hot and add a cup of bicarb baking soda powder.I only do this once ever 2 to 3 months because I feel that’s what works best for me and also because I use almost all liquid.

    If you use powder washing, then you should do it once a month. You can also use the left over water for your garden if you are only using epsom salts. I don’t recommend using it on your yard if you have added bicarb.If you need an extra kick to cleaning out your washing machine without buying commercial cleaners, adding a half to a full cup of bicarb baking soda can really do the trick or even a half  a cup of rock salt.

    It’s cheap and effective. If you are someone that really needs scents in your cleaner use a few small drops of peppermint oil (pure) or essential oils with disinfecting qualities. You could also use a bit of tea trea oil. This will also disinfect your machine as well as make it smell nice.

  • Clean your washing machine once a month by using Epsom salts. I’ve found this far more effective than commercial cleaners and it’s also safer.
  • NEVER mix cloudy ammonia with bleach (this includes domestos). It’s toxic and if you plan to mix chemicals, it doesn’t hurt to do a quick google research about it.
  • Some of you might find this handy, others might say “well duuuuh”. This will be in bullet points. This is stuff my mother use to make me do and things I do because of allergies while some of it is just common sense.
  • Things you can do with Bicarb or Carpet freshener. Use either as a carpet freshener. Freshen and deodorize pet beds by sprinkling it on the area, allow to sit for a few minutes and then dust off or vacuum. Deodorize your car by sprinkling it on the upholstery and floors and letting it sit for 10-20 minutes and then vacuuming it off later.Add to the ashtray if you are a non smoker for a long lasting smell absorber.

    Leave it open and it will last a long time as an air freshener for your car. Also give it a stir or shake once in a while. Use either in the bin. Yes the bin. Sprinkle it on the bottom of your bin to deodorize all day and night long BEFORE you place in a new bag. It can also absorb bin moisture keeping it smell free longer and easier to clean. Can last for 2 to 3 days in the bottom of a bin, but I recommend cleaning your bin after each unbagging with with Earth or Pine O Clean wipes.Sprinkle either one on the bottom of cat tray litter before adding litter. Find a small container and put in some of it, leave the lid off and place strategically around the home as either an air freshener or smell absorber.

    Put bicarb only in a small container, say about 1/4 cup of bicarb baking soda powder and place in the bottom shelf or top shelf way up the back to absorb smells and keep your fridge smelling fresh or not smelling at all. I have found this to last anywhere up to 1-3 months. Give it a stir once in a while.

  • Use denture pills to clean stained coffee cups or coffee pots. Works wonders if you get the whitening one. Also works on pots and pans. I find this to work better than bicarb in some circumstances.
  • Boil then let simmer, bicarb in a pot or pan with food that is stuck or brown burnt to the bottom. Things like rice, semolina or polenta that are just messy and hard to clean sometimes. It will loosen it and make it easier to clean.
  • Use bicarb as a no smell, all natural abrasion free scrub. Mix into a paste and use with a sponge. Clean bench tops, sinks, toilet and bathroom, microwaves and ovens with this mix.
  • Clean bench tops daily to keep ants away. If  they still persist even if your kitchen is spotless, find where they are entering and get a cotton wool pad. Add a few drops of peppermint oil and wipe around and near the entry point. It will repell them. Do it daily and they will stop coming in.This is a no kill solution. I’ve also found that having a small container of compost outside is the best way to keep ants out of the home.

    In my house it can be spotless but when they persist in entering the home, they are foraging because there’s a large storm on the way and sure enough a few hours later or the next day there’s a lightening storm. These two things have been great at keeping them out of my house. I never could kill ants.

  •  Boil some water and pour down the sink as evenly as possible to melt any fats or oils in your drain. Pour around and in sink drain, 1 cup of bicarb soda and use white vinegar. Pour about a cup or more of vinegar until it foams up and out of the drain. This is an all natural and effective drain cleaner. Let sit for a few minutes and then rinse. It’s good to do this every 1-3 months. Keeps your drains smell free as well.

    Some people have written that this works well in the toilet but I find when vinegar is diluted with water, it doesn’t make the bicarb fizz and makes it less effective. You can try but you might waste a lot of vinegar getting it to work right.

  • Use polish with beeswax to best preserve and clean wooden furniture. My mother used it on vinyl lounges as well and their life I swear was extended. I have a table and chair set over 15 yrs old and it still looks new and fresh. The chairs are leather or vinyl and the table wood. If  you have none, Armor All can be a good substitute.
  • Nifty can be as powerful as using domestos but is not as harsh. When using it, to get the best results allow to soak/sit for 10-20 minutes. Does a good job on removing mould. Use in a well ventilated area and be aware that it can and will bleach clothes. Though not as strong it can still whiten things you don’t want white.
  • Using static wipes to dust can be excellent if you’re as allergic to dust as I am but try to never use it near the computer or laptops.
  • Pre spray your dusting cloth with furniture polish to help stop disturbing dust and making it fly into the air and aggravate your allergies. It will of course still disturb it but it will be far less and amount.
  • Open your windows and curtains daily! Various build up of toxins from household cleaners can make you sick and opening a window or two can really help keep your home fresh. Plus sunlight has a lot of benefits in the home. Unless  you’re totally all green and eco friendly (very hard to do), things like deodorant, toilet sprays, cleaners, all release various chemicals that can affect your health and even with air vents it can still linger in the home and make you sick.

    Allow natural sunlight and fresh air into your home is a must. I also recommend having houseplants. Plants naturally absorb carbon dioxide and other dangerous chemicals and then the plants release fresh oxygen.  I also really highly recommend why and the benefits of having houseplants is a must.

  • Sunlight soap. Sunlight soap is your friend. Although it’s not the best smelling product it’s extremely gentle on the skin and does a lot around the home. Read the packet for suggestions. Does a great job at cleaning dishes, excellent in the garden. My nana use to mix it in a spray bottle of water and spray her roses with it to keep bugs at bay.I use to great it and make it into an all purpose spray.

    If you have stainless steel sinks, get a wet sponge, lather it up in sunlight soap and go crazy. It’s super foamy which is a good thing. Use the scrub side of a non abrasive scotch brite sponge. Rinse thoroughly and you will have shining sinks. It’s gentle and shines. Does a great job on clothing stains. I use to use it to get out grass stains.

  • Use bicarb as a fabric softener.
  • Use a mixture of bicarb and epsom salts in a tub of warm water to soak your feet in. Particularly good if you have an ingrown toenail or sore redness around the toes. Only add peppermint oil (pure) or pure eucalyptus oil, a few drops, if you want a nice smell. The reason I say this is because you only want something with antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
  • Homemade antibacterial fabric softener or garment freshener. Works both ways. Add 1/3 cup or fill the bottle about a quarter or 1/3 into a 1litre spray bottle. Fill with warm water and add a few drops of lemon essential oil or pure peppermint oil. I recomment anything from 3 to 10 drops. Give it a shake, make sure it’s well dissolved and use as a softener or freshener.
  • Use steam when ironing to kill dust mites.
  • Iron bedsheets and pillow cases to 1. Kill dustmites and germs 2. Save an incredible amount of space and better maintain your linen press.
  • Place a small open jar of used sun dried tea leaves in humid linen press to absorb moisture. This is a cheap solution to commercial packaged dehumidifier packets you buy in store.
  • Wash curtains and blinds! Horrified at how many people I know with asthma or allergies sick everyday and have not washed their curtains or dusted their blinds in years. If you keep it clean you can run a steam cleaner over them once a week for a quick top up clean.
  • Use white vinegar if you have no descaler for your percolator/coffee machine. Run through twice, rinse thoroughly and run through just water at least twice to rid the vinegar.
  • Using cream cleanser on your bathtub and bathroom sink at least once a week or once a fortnight will keep it clean and white longer. Usually it works better than the “no scrub” cleaners which are usually harsh on the lungs. To get the best results, put the pug in the tub to save what rolls down the tub walls.

    Squirt some cream cleanser around the tub and rub in with a sponge or scrubbing brush. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Lightly wet and scrub on last time. It will lather up a lot. If you had a lot of soap scum and grime you can let it sit for another 10-20 minutes then rinse. I can get away with once a fortnight. Ajax cream cleanser works best.

  • Using bleach on porcelain tubs and toilets will erode the enamel and make it porous. A lot of “no scrubbing no wipe” cleaners can also do the same damage. Even though they say good for tubs, quite often they are not and are really meant for showers and tiles. Once it becomes porous it becomes harder to keep clean.
  • For an easy microwave clean you need a Pyrex jug or microwave safe container. Preferably something that can handle boiling water. Add 3-4 tablespoons of bicarb to one cup of water. Stirring is optional. I like to stir. Place it in the microwave. Turn on microwave for 2-3 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the steam to do it’s job. Use a damn cloth or sponge and wipe clean. Sponge works best. You can use the leftover mix to clean your bench tops when it’s cooled down.

    I was surprised at how effective this was. I HATE cleaning the microwave. No one (including myself) uses microwave lids or protectors so it gets EVERYWHERE and you all know how hard that food much can stick the the walls of your microwave. I kid you not I tried this and it was a very easy wipe and clean. The only part that needed a bit of elbow grease was the roof part with a few stubborn parts.

    I just re-cooked it for 1-2 minutes and let sit. It was easier to remove the second time around.I also changed over to the non abrasive scrubbing side of my scotch brite sponge. It took me maybe 10 minutes to clean. Usually it takes longer because I tend to put off cleaning the microwave because of how difficult it can be. I also love this method for safety reasons.

    I don’t like to use chemicals on things I cook with. I always worry I haven’t rinsed it off enough and I might make us all sick or poisoned.On the back of the box it gives similar instructions to do this with the oven. I haven’t tried this on my oven but I plan to. If it worked this good in the microwave with the burned chunks and grease, I have high hopes for my oven.

  • Use baking paper instead of greasing pans can not only be healthier but make cleaning up a lot less messy and easier.
  • Mixing about a tablespoon of cloudy ammonia in a foaming bottle with 3 tablespoons of cheap dish washing liquid (I recommend homebrand lemon) a few drops of eucalyptus solution (not oil, it makes it go funny) or peppermint oil with tea tree oil or solution, makes for a great carpet cleaner and good for cleaning drains.

    Also works well on cleaning white goods. I use this often to clean my washing machine lid and sides. My cats love to sit on it and make it dirty so it’s a daily item for me. I find it can smell nice if you use a little less ammonia. The oils or solutions are to deter bugs such as fleas and also for smell. The dish liquid just isn’t enough when ammonia is added.This mix is also super effective on hard stains on the floor. Eg hardened dropped food that might have been left by family members. Squirt some foam on the area, allow to sit for 5minutes then wipe. If that didn’t work, reapply and let sit for longer. Keep pets and children away until it’s cleaned.

  • Buying a sizable tub, big enough to soak 2-4 queen bed sheets is often a very cost effective investment when it comes to hand washing and soaking larger items. It often ends up being a much gentler option when you need to use hot water but at the same time you are trying to save electricity.Our hot water system is a joke and we’ve had it replaced 3 maybe 4 times in one year. I’m glad I bought such a tub.

    I can soak a decent amount of clothes for however long in stove boiled water without making my bills higher and still getting a good clean. After it’s cooled I tend to handwash all I can and then put it through a cool rinse cycle.Things like curtains I like to soak in boiled water. It takes 200 degrees celsius to kill dust mites and I am hyper sensitive to those. I soak it in an anti dustmite solution by Bostistos or Sard soaker. I’m paranoid when it comes to dust because I’m so allergic it. I like to add pure eucalyptus oil to my sard soaking items to make sure to kill dust mites and other germs as well as use it for the wonderful smell. It makes my whole house smell lovely.

  • Eucalyptus oil or methylated spirits can remove left over sticky tape glue from tables and walls.
  • Methylated spirits, besides cleaning glass streak free can also remove permanent marker from walls and tables.
  • Stings from stinging nettle can be removed and relieved by rubbing methylated spirits to the area.
  • If you’re feeling lazy with any item you don’t want to wash after cooking, even though you know it will go hard, fill to the top with water and leave it. That way when you wake it will be moist and an easy wipe off. Adding a squirt of dish liquid doesn’t hurt either 😉 Save yourself the pain of scrubbing and just fill it to the top until you’re ready to tackle it in the morning.Highly recommend doing this after using the rice cooker or slow cooker. It really saves on a burdensome clean later.

Surprisingly this is all I can think of for now. I’m sure I will add to this list another time. One last note, I have come to find pinterest an amazing source for homemade cleaning tips and remedies. Some of their recipes are great while others… not so great or safe. If you plan to make homemade cleaners, PLEASE remember to research what you’re mixing and if it’s safe to do so!

 

Speed Paintings

This is what I’ve been up to and working on lately. I managed to record my work on my current webcomic Jade Mirror. All work was done in Clip Studio Paint EX

Speed Painting

I’ve gone back to making regular speed paintings on youtube. This time I used Clip Studio Paint. Nothing fancy though it sort of looks like it is. Lately I’ve been experimenting with ways of painting hair. I’m trying to go for something soft and painterly.

Animation Recommendation

This is my personal recommendation. I just want to mention that this is my personal opinion from my own experiences as well as me answering questions I get.

As a hobbyist animator I have tried almost every single animation program out there. I’ve always wanted to do classic frame by frame animation but doing it traditionally can be very expensive and I switched to digital animation. Besides being eco friendly you only have to pay for your tools once. I love the advantages of digital animation.

The only program I haven’t tried was CelAction simply because it didn’t have anything I needed and it was far too expensive for a hobbyist like myself.

If you are into classic animation like me and do frame by frame animation I highly recommend theses 6 programs. I will however be giving honorable mentions of other programs that you can animate with or use to prepare to create great animations. (I only use the first 4, specifically I only own ToonBoom Animate Pro and studio. I can’t afford TVPaint but I hope to one day.)

  1. Sketchbook Pro 7
  2. ToonBoom Studio, Animate, Animate Pro, Harmony (any of these suites are great for animation but I highly recommend Animate or higher)
  3. CACANi
  4. Adobe After Effects
  5. TVPaint
  6. Celtx

Reasons:

Sketchbook Pro has always been an excellent program for doing concept work but with the added feature of flipbook, it can make creating keyframes very enjoyable. It loads and runs fast and has very basic animation. One of the more notable features is the perspective rulers, this is particularly useful when creating background art for animation since most animation programs do not offer perspective rulers and you have to draw them manually. Taking advantage of these rulers can really help you excel in creating high quality animation and various graphics. This is excellent if you’re new and can help ease you into 2D frame by frame animation. You can then export and import into ToonBoom to take it further and create amazing things. Sketchbook Pro is also excellent for doing storyboarding and various concept work as well making it a very important tool during the early stages of design and creating model references.

ToonBoom has a wide range of software specifically for animation but each suite is aimed at specific types of animation but it can do it all. I recommend any of the Toon Boom products from Studio to Harmony. They are all capable of symbol animation, morph/tween, cut out, bone/puppet animation, stop motion and frame by frame. I also like the onion skin options and settings. I’ve found it to be very efficient. However I do recommend that you check the specs and use a trial before committing. There are still some compatibility issues. The only other con I can think of is the learning curve. Some say it is intuitive to learn while others don’t. I did not find it very intuitive but I did find it fairly easy to navigate through the tools. It was difficult at first to remember where everything was but fortunately ToonBoom allows you to fully customize your workspace. I would also like to add that unless you have Harmony you can only create vector art. If you want bitmap or raster based painted backgrounds or assets you have to import them. Fortunately ToonBoom offers an excellent library that you can customize and save your items for reuse later.

CACANi is excellent for a lot of reasons. The main one being that it can automate inbetweens and it’s stroke steadying settings. If you have shaky hands or an over sensitive tablet you will find this extremely useful. It’s not flawless with auto inbetweening and you still have to inbetween complex animation but it can be a great time saver and still produces quality animation. It basically does advanced vector morphing. It’s also all vector based. Some that are use to raster animation may not enjoy it and find it a disadvantage, but it is worth learning and using. Once you get use to vector animation you can really take full advantage of it and create some incredible things. Particularly if you’re a professional with limited time to get things finished. You can draw in it frame by frame by hand as well and you may find you only need Cacani and Sketchbook Pro for most of your work. CACANi is especially good for a more classic cel animation with cel shading. Anyone that has used ToonBoom or flash and tried to animate cel shading will know the difficulties it can involve. With it’s unique colour line separation pen and quickflip preview ,it makes the flow of animating cel animation much easier smoother and get it done in a much shorter amount of time.

Adobe After effects is a compositing program. I recommend it for filters and basic particles. It’s extremely useful to use the particles to make snow or falling feathers, leaves blowing in the wind or anything else you can think of. It’s especially good for glowing and various lighting or shading effects. I recommend it mostly because subscribing is cheaper than trying to buy Harmony. If you have ToonBoom Harmony, it’s unlikely that you would need After Effects. After Effects is also capable of puppet animation and does a really good job of it. In short it’s like photoshop for animation. I highly recommend it for it’s filters to edit your animations and push them further in design, effects and quality.

TVPaint has a lot of tools. If you have it, it’s unlikely that you will need any other program. It is mostly raster based. Recently it was upgraded with a lot of amazing new tools. If you are into puppet or bone animation I don’t recommend TVPaint. It’s mostly a frame by frame animation program. It has advanced and customizable lightbox options that make inbetweening and onion skin easy to use. With TVPaint you can do storyboarding as well which is a big pro including adding audio to your storyboards. The only Con is unless you have a Cintiq or dual monitors, it can get very cramped very quickly. It is professional grade software and has a fairly steep learning curve. However if you have some experience in animation with other programs you might find it fairly intuitive. I highly recommend trying the demo. Unlike other programs there is no time limit to test the software. You can’t save and it uses a watermark. Unlike ToonBoom animate family where you have to import raster images from photoshop for backgrounds, you can paint within TVPaint lessening the need for any other program.

Celtx is not animation software but it is a necessary program to have and use. It’s replaced word and OneNote for me. Celtx has online cloud storage and offers a range of writing formats from script writing to storyboards for film and comics. It’s most unique feature is the character database. You can create and story a database for all of your characters with indepth information plot ties and image reference. It’s freeware and well worth downloading and using. If you decide to get into serious animation I highly recommend using it and taking advantage of the character database to use alongside your script and storyboards. I personally use to use this for my comics in combination with Sketchbook Pro and it certainly has been a great help in the past.

Honorable Mentions:

[List has been updated 17/03/2015]

Other programs that can be either used for animation or are extremely helpful during the animation process and concepting stages are listed below:

  • OneNote (Organising, scripting, concepts, storyboarding, mindmaps (very  important), ability to share with team members)
  • Plastic Animation Paper also known as PAP
  • Clip Studio Paint Pro and EX (Perspective rulers, paint, raster drawing, background, concept, storyboards and assets with transparency)
  • GIMP (animation and concept)
  • Photoshop (animation and concept, transparent image assets)
  • MyPaint (unlimited canvas, fast loading, variety of natural feeling brushes)
  • ArtRage (Beautiful backgrounds, program imitates natural media very well. Personally I think it does it better than Corel)
  • Corel Painter (animation and concept, natural media feel)
  • Paint Tool Sai (for raster images, backgrounds, concepts, storyboards and ease of use)
  • OpenCanvas (perspective rulers, painting, concept, storyboarding)
  • Audacity (for audio recording)
  • FL Studio (Unless you’re a composer I only recommend basic FL for creating your own sound effects and music. It is professional grade software and has a very steep learning curve. However it is well worth learning.)
  • Pencil (Free frame by frame animation. Still buggy and has been known to crash. Save frequently)
  • Blender (now has frame by frame animation. Done with grease pencil)
  • Tab (various suits, mostly all vector and I think cut out animation)
  • Digicel Flipbook (a lot of people still use and recommend this program. I personally did not take to it)
  • Anime Studio (vector bone morph animation)
  • Retas Studio (I don’t think it’s sold outside of Japan in english any more but I have seen some artists purchase it so I’m not totally sure.)
  • GraphicsGale (gif animation)
  • Synfig (free, mostly vector. Very steep learning curve, lots of issues for windows. Best used on Linux)
  • Tupi
  • Toufee
  • Toonz (same company that makes Tab, but to my understanding this one is more advanced)
  • CelAction
  • Flash (animation, symbols, tweening, frame by frame)

If you feel I have forgotten any 2D programs you think should be mentioned please leave a comment. This was very quickly written.

Work In Progress Animation Status Update

Right click and loop for better viewing.

I will likey upload this to Vimeo and youtube as well but this is what I have currently been working on lately. It’s one of many short clipped scenes. I plan to put them all together in After Effects but I have a few more things to learn first before I do.

A while ago I was having program issues but the bugs have since been fixed. This was made using CACANi and edited in After Effects. The raster image in the background was made in Clip Paint Studio.

I’ve been working on my 2.5D animation techniques and I think I have the hang of it now. My next set is to attempt to add lighting and shadows efficiently. As you can see I’ve already start to play with it but I need to work on it some more. I haven’t figured out how to animate flickering lights and room shadows in AE yet but I plan to. I just have to get use to how it sets keyframes and handles things.

That’s pretty much it though. Just wanted to give an update on what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been.

MiwaSketch

February 15, 2015

It’s currently to hot to catch up on anything or do anything important. I have mostly been streaming late at night when it’s cooled down but even that is getting harder to do with the increasing heat. Hopefully though I will be back and updating on here with a more regular pattern. I plan to get back to my various tutorials and what not. I also apologise for the shortness of this post but I thought I would give my legitimate readers a heads up on the cause for my absence. This blog isn’t dead, it’s just too hot to do or share work.