Let's talk about links


I would like to talk about semantics. Blender has some unique words which are understandable, but can be quickly messy.
Let’s talk about links and instances and different use where this word is used :

  1. file > link : makes an element (object, collection, even scene) from an another .blend project be taken as a dynamic link. It’ different from the “appended” which merges the elements, and make them unique, not linked.
    • default options : it will link the asked elements, parent it to an empty, a makes a kind of closed box where artist can’t do anything inside (which is very useful)
    • uncheck “instance collection” : will add all the hierarchy under the asked element, but will lock all the transform (for now we can’t have local element, but it’s not my point)
    • little trick : if you link something in the scene from another .blend project, and then you delete what you have linked, and then you append the same element, it will behave exactly like if you uncheck “instance collection” when you link something.
  1. outliner > view layer tab > ctrl + drag in a collection : makes a link (the tooltip says “Ctrl to link”. Which means that one unique element can be in different collections, appears in different places in your hierarchy (which is useful), but which behaves likes the element is instanced between some different collections. It’s a bit confusing.

  2. scene panel > new scene > linked copy : makes an instanced copy of the collections in a T time which are in the scene A (original scene) to the B scene (new created). But when you create collections and elements outside those collections after that T time, they are not linked (but the “original” collections are still linked). So it’s a link, but not for the whole scene

  3. outliner > scene tab > linked to scene/instance to scene : if you are in a scene A and you want to link (as the A. point meaning) a collection or whatever, " linked to scene" makes an instance, and “instance to scene” makes … a link (I mean as A. behavior)

  4. outliner > right click on collections > duplicate collections : makes every elements inside the collection be copied as instance inside a new collection, (which means that the objects data are the same, but transforms are different)

  5. alt + D : instance objects data of the elements (but not the transforms and the modifiers either.

  6. unlink : this action is pretty strange, as it deletes the transform, but we can still find the object data. I think it’s not as understandable as it should be.

As you can see, some words are used for similar actions but with different results and behavior. In a production, links are the core of exchange between artists (even when we are alone !) , and it’s something that can be pretty tough to understand.

I guess you should consider using some unique words, for unique actions, which would be much easier to smooth those actions.

I’m opened to discussion and to share your tips and your corrections if I’m wrong, or if there is a misanderstood !