Please make collections more like using folders/layers/symbols/prefabs!

I’ve addressed this before with blender 8 beta and Blender 8.1 is out now and collections are still slow and clunky as ever. So this time let me show what I mean with pictures:

Instead of selecting objects in a collection like this:

Make something like a ctrl + j where objects are merged into an arrangement where every object is still accessible. (a collection that acts as an object) Not merged meshes like ctrl + j does!

Every 2D software and many 3D work this way and most artists are accustomed to this workflow.

Here is an example how this works in unity:

The user has multiple objects and can create an empty and move all objects into that empty:

This allows the user to scale/move/rotate all objects as one. Allowing for nondestructive very fast kitbash workflow:

It is a major timesaver and is very very important for artists! Ask any digital artist! 90% will be used to this workflow! It is the main reason I’m still very uncomfortable using blender.

Just look at how this game takes it to even another level by allowing users to make brushes out of a collection of objects!:

This it the power of being able to add objects to a container quickly!

I beg you please change that clunky collection usage! Make it faster and simpler! I don’t want to rmb ->select objects anymore! It takes forever and ctrl + j is destructive, it joins all meshes together T_T

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I just got told that blender has parenting but I didn’t know since:

In other software this works from the get go. Please set the outliner to scenes by default this will help many beginners.

But the problems with blenders parenting still is that selecting in scene only selects a single child not the whole composition. Editing the “encapsulated” objects should be like opening them in a different scene. Unity does this with prefabs but it sucks that one has to edit them outside the current scene. Adobe flash/animate and other 2D vector software do this much better: You edit everything in the same scene but all other objects are darkened and non selectable. Only children of the parent (you doubleclicked/rmb + edit) are editable. Even most raster software like photoshop/krita have this workflow with layers. You click on what you have drawn and the right layer is automatically selected.

This is the behavior that is missing from blender that almost all other software have. It should be really easy to implement too. For starters just add “select all children” of parent when one child is selected to the selection menu. This simple option already would help immensely!

I’ve made some more vids to show how it works in other software:


Animate editing:

I’m not talking about that blender can’t do this but about how easy and fast it can be done.
The reason flash was so popular is that it had this really fast kitbash workflow.

What I’m missing in blender is this nondestructive kitbash workflow where you create objects and use those objects to build bigger more complicated objects in a very fast manner. It’s a basic workflow I know but it is slow and complicated to do this in blender. Of course it will never be as fast as in a 2D software but it could be: add/manipulate objects, select them all and press 1 button on the keyboard to encapsulate all of them. Then use this new folder like object as copies or linked in a scene. Then when needed double click or rmb edit one of them to create a variation of that object or change all of them when linked.

This would be possible if the Collections were not cumulative
(without ability to put the same object in different collections).

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Why is that a problem? Flash/Animates symbols often share the same objects. It’s pretty awesome since when you decide to change such a shared object it’s changed everywhere. You can put symbols inside of symbols, inside of symbols etc. For example you draw a retina, save that as a symbol. Then you make an eyeball and add the retina symbol as part of the eye symbol. You continue to do this for the whole human. What you get is a final human object that has many layers of depth that you can move/duplicate in a scene quickly to make a crowd and edit in every detail to not have the same person for the crowd. This is done very quickly it’s just doubleclicking to edit such a symbol and pressing f8 to create one.

If collections are just some sorting system then maybe scenes could become more like flash symbols or unity prefabs. As long as it’s in a scene, is a “collection” of some sorts, selectable as one object, fast to create and edit I don’t care what it is. What I have described is the fastest and most usable kitbash workflow out there. Whenever I use blender everything takes forever. Blender has some really awesome features and tools that save a lot of time like the bool and array mods but the basic workflow is really complicated and needs too many steps to get to the final product.To me the best improvement in blender 2.8 is the quick favorites.

You are talking about behavior of common grouping systems.
They are not cumulative.
The problem is, due to cumulation, that same retina object can be simultaneously part of eyeball collection, nose collection and fingers collections, so it is impossible to solve how it have to move when moving eyeball, nose or fingers.
There are no examples of such systems in CG.


I’m sorry I’m more on the practical part of things. How file and sorting systems work is beyond me. I can just compare the software I use to each other. So adobe animate, unity, ue4 etc. use a cumulative system and blender doesn’t. As an artist all I need is good tools to work with the faster and easier to use the better. If blender doesn’t use a cumulative system them maybe it should.

I don’t get this part:

The problem is, due to cumulation, that same retina object can be simultaneously part of eyeball collection, nose collection and fingers collections, so it is impossible to solve how it have to move when moving eyeball, nose or fingers.

Why does this work in other software then? Even the 2D vector ones work with verts and bones. I never had any problems moving the eyes with the rest of the body in there.

Only Blender has a cumulative system.

No, it doesnot. You can’t put the same object to different (not nesting) structural entities.
Example: scene contains one Suzanne that belongs to 5 collections. Collections, that contains Suzanne, contains collections that contains same Suzanne. That’s cumulative system.


You can create an instance of collection to scene to move it as single object, but it is far away from being perfect from usability point of view.

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You can check up this addon by Michael Soluyanov for better grouping abilities.

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IC so nested objects can be animated together but since blender can have the same object in different collections this is not possible in blender. I think I have 0 use for that kind of behavior. Sure having one object in different collections could have some use. But I’d rather have nested objects that I can animate together and have a fast scene creation workflow. I can’t think of one usecase where I need the same object to be in different collections. A seperate linked one sure but not the same. Wouldn’t it be better/easier to have nested objects and use tags on the objects to sort/select them?
If I can’t do this in blender:

Which for me is basic scene generation and animation workflow. I’ll have to continue using blender for single object creation and create scenes in other software. This really sucks I was really hyped for collections since I thought they would finally enable me to do fast kitbash and nested animations…
So nested objects/scenes were never planned and chances are that it won’t soon/ever get implemented… T_T

I guess most of people have 0 use for that kind of behavior, since it is completely new in industry)

Well, when there were choice between make collections cumulative or not, experimental cumulativeness were chosen. That killed a lot of stable management features with extreme system’s flexibility.

There were talks about common grouping system abilities, but, as far as you already know, even attempts to design a management tool for such extremely flexible system are extremely hard, if even are possible.

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My idea was the ability to convert non-cumulative collections to common groups (you call them symbols and prefabs) and back.
But such a system is a subject for tough design process, for example, it can double linking collections ability.
And we still have a mess in outliner visibility controls, so we are currently trying to solve this issue first.

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Are blender scenes also cumulative? Maybe scenes could be common groups? But the cumulative collections inside the scenes would probably interfere. Maybe it would be easier to first just add 2 modes that the user can choose in blender. As in the user chooses either cumulative collections or common groups for a new project and it can’t be changed at first. That is easier and faster to implement. That way users can work with either system. An added bonus is that Blender 2.7 users will be much happier with 2.8. While users work with that temporary split system a concept for that mixed mode that you have suggested can be worked out.

As a single indie dev a fast common groups workflow is very very important to me. I have to fill all roles in a project and every second counts. Especially to get that flow going. Breaks in that flow dampen the creative process and decrease productivity. Programmers should be familiar with that “flow”. All those youtube animations are done by single artist and very small groups and this is only possible because of that fast kitbash common groups workflow.

I’d really like to see that in blender. With armoy3D or BGE I then wouldn’t need any other software anymore XD It took me a long time to be able to use blender because of its clunkiness. I’m really happy that 2.8 is changing into something where it is easier to get the creative flow going.

isn’t this the same as simply making an empty and parenting the objects you want grouped to it?
then making sure the outliner is in a state to show hierarchies.

This isn’t really the collections system, it’s the parenting system that you want, no?

It is slower, so if I’d want anything it’d be a faster way to make an empty parent, and also possibly selection settings so that selecting one of the child objects automatically selects the empty the first time or something, for those people who want to select the whole ‘group’ by clicking any child object.

Yes and no. Parenting to an empty with a good selection option would be similar and be very usable but probably not be the same. What I’m talking about is nested “scenes”. But I’m not sure if you can have these nested “scenes” with just parenting to an empty. It’s better I show it.

Empty VS prefab usage:

Replacing inside a prefab (similar to blender linked objects):

Creating prefab variations:

Nesting Prefabs:

Maybe coding this is as as simple as giving an empty a tag “container” and when it has that label and a user selects one of the objects all are selected. Using num / could then allow the user to rearrange the objects or edit the children.

This all looks entirely doable with collections, instances, overrides, and parenting to be honest.

Prefabs is similar to instance collection, with little differences. You can also have a instance prefab inside other isntance prefab.

Now I only modeling, but I will enjoy when I need to made a new project with this type of collections instances.

Yes I’ve played around with collection instances and they handle really clunky to the point that they are unusable to me. This isn’t about that blender hasn’t the ability/tools but about that it takes too many steps to do, is very limited in its usage and/or is too complicated to use.

The problems I have with collection instances are:

  • Duplicates the objects in scene. I don’t need twice the amount of objects in scene esp. when the source objects are still separated from each other when selecting them.
  • Instances are disrupted when source objects are moved into other collections.
  • Takes too many steps to create. Even when added to q menu it takes 2.
  • Can’t edit the instances and need to edit the source objects instead. Those are either far away from the scene to not interfere with the placed instances or are hidden to not interfere with the work.

There is probably more I haven’t encountered since I dropped using them because of this behavior.

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I’m not sure, but libraries overrides don’t solve that?