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Very often when you are starting off a new project, you are not going to just start creating everything from scratch. You are going to want to go into a library and pull out some stuff that you have been working on or that your team's been working on or that your company has been working on and has used and developed in the past, and that's called Asset Management. And the feature in Blender that allows you to bring in those assets is called Appending and Linking. The purpose of this video is to show you the different ways and discuss maybe some of the different things that you can use to set up reusable assets within Blender.
Now there isn't any fixed folder, structure or any kind of required or mandated asset management structure to your objects in your projects. That's both a good thing and a bad thing. The good part about that is you can work with people on the other side of the world and they can email you these blend files and you can readily just open them up and start working with them right away. You can also do a File > Import and Export of the blend file data to work with other kinds of applications. For example, the Autodesk formats are supported as well as the common interchange formats, like between Max and Maya will import and export an OBJ file.
The COLLADA file was kind of designed to be a data exchange format and Blender supports these by running an Import script and then you can also run Export scripts that export certain kinds of data. So if we want to bring in an asset from another blend file, we have to invoke the Append or Link function here from the menu or press Shift+F1 from a fairly large 3D View and the window will change to a special class of the file browser, called an Asset Browser and it's going to position itself to the last file that you are working with and I happened to be working with this file.
Your will be somewhere else in your directory tree, so let me go through this window real quick and show you how to use it to navigate. First of all, the P button brings you up to the Parent directory. As you can see here, I'm buried down in my hard drive and Mac users, you will probably be starting out with like a volume over here. Windows users, it's a C: indicating your C drive. Linux users will have probably a / usr being your user folder, but this is basically your path to your files wherever you have them stored on your particular computer.
My particular files for this exercise are located under my Desktop, so I just click on Desktop and that navigates me down into that folder. Under my exercise_files, under the Library and now this is where you should start to match up wherever you have downloaded onto your hard drive. This directory structure should now match yours. So now I'm going to come under Objects and select Captain Knowledge.blend. When you click on that file, you dive in to that file and you are exposed to all of the different kinds of things that are inside that file and in this particular file, there are these kinds of things available to you.
Now there are two separate kinds of sets of things that are in Blender. There are objects that you can look at and see and touch and feel and work with, and then there are types of objects like types of meshes or types of materials. So if you import let's say this Yellow material and we are just going to go ahead and load library. It doesn't actually show up because it's there. It's sitting in memory. If we go ahead and press Space, Add and Mesh, Plane and here is the plane right here.
We now, when we come over to our material system, we can see that -- and when we click the Selector here, there is the Yellow. It's sitting there, waiting for us and so if we select it, now this plane is going to be textured yellow and if you press Z, you can see that it's textured yellow. So that's a way of importing types of things so that they are in your memory, in Blender, waiting to be used. The other way to append or link things is through the Append or Link function, but instead what we are going to do is go up a level and select the Object itself.
Now the object in this case is Captain Knowledge. If we go ahead and we right-click and then just kind of drag over all of these things and click Link, what we are going to do is establish a link between this blank.blend file and this Captain Knowledge.blend file and we are going to bring these objects in, but we are going to link to them. And instead, if this object is still being worked on, let's say it's being drafted by another artist working in that other file and saving his updates, when we open up our file, Blender will go out and grab the latest updates.
So we'll always have the latest updates here. So you use Linking to just establish a link to that other file and that other object and linked objects are shown over here as this little LI icon in this little yellow box. That tells us that's a little visual cue. That tells us this object isn't ours. It's actually linked and so we don't actually own it, we are just kind of borrowing it to use it or work on it. Same thing over here in the materials, you can see that little LI icon. If at some point we want to break that link, we can go ahead and make a local copy of that object and bring it into our file and now that the outline changes from being that cyan, which indicates that the object was a linked object, to now the yellow that tells us this is our own local copy.
So in addition to saving things out in external files, we can also pack images and pack information into the file itself and that's found under here File > External Data, Pack it into the blend file. So for example, this Captain Knowledge I happened to know that it uses an image texture for his eyeball for the iris and that was actually borrowed from another asset library system. So, to properly give somebody this file, I would have to give them not only the blend file, but also that image file, which may be a PNG or a JPEG.
I have to give my 2 or 3 or 5 or in some complicating cases, a couple 100 files, which would be kind of difficult to manage. What we can do is we can do File > External Data, Pack into the blend file and now everything that's used by this particular scene is packed into this one blend file. So the blend file is like a mudball kind of effect that it can store JPEGs and PNGs and all that kind of good stuff all inside of it and the packed files indicated by this little Package icon right here that shows you and indicates that this is a packed file.
And then when I email this let's say to the other side of the world, the person that gets it can open the package, unpack it back into either the original location or other relative locations and then be able to work on those individual files by using any kind of other external program. For example, if they were image files, then I could use Photoshop to touch up the images. So, reuse is really essential to saving time and saving money and being more productive and this tutorial then showed you how to save your library blend files for ease of reuse.
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