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Appending and linking assets

From: Blender Essential Training

Video: Appending and linking assets

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.

Appending and linking assets

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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This video is part of

Image for Blender Essential Training
Blender Essential Training

131 video lessons · 25208 viewers

Roger Wickes
Author

 
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  1. 12m 5s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Using the exercise files
      58s
    3. Using Blender's full capabilities
      4m 16s
    4. Getting and installing Blender
      3m 8s
    5. Mouse and keyboard differences on the Mac
      2m 27s
  2. 1h 6m
    1. Blender oddities
      7m 38s
    2. Introducing the User Interface, Console, and Render windows
      3m 8s
    3. Configuring the desktop for an efficient workflow
      6m 27s
    4. Using the mouse and tablet on a PC or a Mac
      5m 7s
    5. Acquiring keyboard skills
      7m 38s
    6. Window panes and types
      7m 53s
    7. Exploring the default scene
      5m 53s
    8. Setting themes, UI colors, and user preferences
      4m 0s
    9. Understanding how to safeguard your data with autosave and backups
      6m 52s
    10. Appending and linking assets
      7m 27s
    11. Using the open-source movies and assets
      4m 18s
  3. 2h 7m
    1. Working with objects in 3D space
      6m 24s
    2. Navigating 3D views
      4m 23s
    3. Understanding Blender modes
      1m 51s
    4. Understanding meshes
      2m 8s
    5. Editing a mesh
      3m 28s
    6. Using the Mirror modifier
      2m 55s
    7. Working with Vertex groups
      2m 35s
    8. Using Bézier curves
      3m 52s
    9. Working with text objects
      5m 23s
    10. Using reference images
      3m 38s
    11. Modeling boots by extruding circles and joining meshes
      8m 59s
    12. Applying the Mirror modifier to duplicate the boot and rotate
      1m 58s
    13. Modeling a helmet with NURBS and the Boolean modifier
      7m 14s
    14. Modeling a belt and pants by making a compound object from multiple primitive objects
      3m 51s
    15. Modeling legs by using edge loops and the Knife tool
      6m 9s
    16. Modeling a chest and arms using edge loops
      5m 30s
    17. Stitching the shoulders and neck
      5m 13s
    18. Modeling hands with the Proportional Editing tool
      9m 4s
    19. Linking vertices to create knuckle joints
      4m 7s
    20. Reinforcing modeling basics to create the face, eyes, nose, and ears
      13m 6s
    21. Appending and linking assets
      3m 54s
    22. Sculpting basics
      3m 3s
    23. Using the Subsurf modifier to smooth
      2m 34s
    24. Parenting
      2m 7s
    25. Working with groups
      2m 1s
    26. Understanding the endless possibilities for editing mesh with modifiers
      2m 37s
    27. Duplicating objects using the Array modifier
      1m 54s
    28. Modeling a set
      7m 52s
  4. 39m 41s
    1. Lighting overview
      4m 25s
    2. Using the Omni lamp
      4m 50s
    3. Working with the Area lamp
      2m 57s
    4. Using the Spot lamp
      4m 9s
    5. Using the Sun, Sky, and Atmosphere lamps
      4m 51s
    6. Using the Hemisphere lamp
      2m 3s
    7. Working with Ambient and Radiosity lighting
      7m 34s
    8. Lighting with three-point and other multipoint lighting rigs
      5m 30s
    9. Understanding shadows
      3m 22s
  5. 1h 21m
    1. Realism overview
      2m 56s
    2. Creating a world in less than seven days
      6m 36s
    3. Applying ambient occlusion
      3m 47s
    4. Working with basic materials
      3m 24s
    5. Working with node materials
      4m 27s
    6. Applying Pipeline options
      2m 51s
    7. Painting vertices
      3m 13s
    8. Using shaders
      7m 59s
    9. Using mirrors
      4m 41s
    10. Working with transparency
      4m 28s
    11. Using halos
      2m 40s
    12. Simulating with Subsurface Scattering (SSS)
      4m 26s
    13. Applying textures
      9m 34s
    14. Mapping image textures to an object to create a decal
      4m 19s
    15. UV unwrapping
      4m 54s
    16. Applying multiple materials to a single object
      3m 31s
    17. Painting in 3D
      4m 14s
    18. Using bump maps
      3m 14s
  6. 1h 25m
    1. Understanding animation
      4m 14s
    2. Keyframing objects
      6m 15s
    3. Keyframing materials
      3m 14s
    4. Creating Shape keys
      2m 28s
    5. Creating Facial Shape key animation using reference video
      2m 12s
    6. Animating by combining Shape keys
      2m 53s
    7. Working with lattices
      3m 37s
    8. Using hooks
      1m 30s
    9. Working with Vertex groups
      2m 33s
    10. Creating armature objects
      3m 44s
    11. Mirroring armatures for bilateral creatures
      3m 43s
    12. Attaching mesh to the armature by way of skinning
      5m 7s
    13. Posing a character
      4m 43s
    14. Using inverse kinematics
      4m 29s
    15. Creating a walk cycle with inverse kinematics
      6m 34s
    16. Completing the walk cycle
      3m 49s
    17. Limiting range of motion and degrees of freedom
      3m 47s
    18. Managing actions using the Action Editor
      3m 52s
    19. Blending actions together using the Non-Linear Animation Editor
      4m 34s
    20. Tracking
      3m 2s
    21. Following a path
      2m 21s
    22. Mimicking an existing animation
      3m 47s
    23. Using the grease pencil
      2m 56s
  7. 50m 43s
    1. Understanding particle systems
      2m 20s
    2. Working with game engine physics
      3m 52s
    3. Spewing particles
      7m 25s
    4. Guiding particles
      3m 43s
    5. Creating reactions and collisions with particle systems
      3m 15s
    6. Creating hair and fur
      4m 25s
    7. Grooming hair and fur
      3m 26s
    8. Jiggling and squishing soft bodies
      3m 43s
    9. Simulating cloth
      6m 10s
    10. Simulating fluids
      5m 47s
    11. Using boids to simulate swarms, schools, and flocks
      6m 37s
  8. 21m 29s
    1. Using Render controls
      6m 18s
    2. Radiosity
      3m 31s
    3. Stamping text on video
      2m 32s
    4. Setting up test renders
      4m 43s
    5. Rendering image sequences
      4m 25s
  9. 1h 5m
    1. Viewing node thumbnail images on certain Macs
      1m 31s
    2. Overview and integration
      2m 12s
    3. Render passes and layers
      4m 27s
    4. Using Input nodes
      6m 22s
    5. Using Output nodes
      3m 54s
    6. Working with Color nodes
      4m 29s
    7. Color mixing and layering
      3m 27s
    8. Using Distort nodes individually and in combination
      7m 15s
    9. Using Vector nodes
      6m 46s
    10. Creating effects with Filter nodes
      8m 49s
    11. Using Converter nodes
      6m 7s
    12. Chroma keying with Matte nodes
      6m 15s
    13. Understanding node groups and reuse
      4m 17s
  10. 38m 43s
    1. The Video Sequence Editor (VSE)
      11m 47s
    2. Integrating audio
      3m 31s
    3. Using VSE Greenscreen and other plug-ins
      5m 40s
    4. Integrating the Compositor with the VSE
      7m 50s
    5. Layering and splicing video
      6m 18s
    6. Speeding up and slowing down sequences
      3m 37s
  11. 5m 26s
    1. Putting it all together: Captain Knowledge visits lynda.com
      5m 12s
    2. Goodbye
      14s

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