How do you arrange and link your .blends on a project?

Lately I’ve been trying out storing assets on my projects across different .blends, to try and make things easier to organize, and make it so saving my main shot file doesn’t take so epically long. I’ve noticed this inevitably results in one .blend that contains most of the environment, which makes me wonder about the best way to handle this. Anyone have a favorite method? Put everything in an “environment stuff” group and load your environment to the shot as one colossal dupligroup? Link things to the main shot individually? And how do you handle environment objects that have their own .blend? Just link the linked object from the environment file and nest links?

Just curious if anyone has been through this before and found an arrangement that worked well.

I separate them in two categories - “Props” and “Characters”. A single file in “Props” can contain all the NodeSetups, models and materials necessary for one type of scene, and everything is sorted using groups. For example:

“The character is inside a room, opening a door and drinking from a cup. He goes into a different room.”

  • Character is linked and the armature is proxified from “Character.blend”
  • The room is a linked group instance from the file “Room.blend”
  • The door is another linked group instance called “Door” from “Room.blend”
  • The cup is a linked group instance called “Cup” from “SmallProps.blend”
  • The World material and compositing nodes are linked from “Room.blend” and contains the sky settings

The second scene has a similar setup, except it contains props from “Room2.blend” etc. Generally you have to think about what’s going to be reused and sort your files that way - you’ll notice i put the cup in “SmallProps.blend” since it is present in both scenes.

The scene file you end up with should contain only armature actions, object animations and linked group instances (Empties) - it is very small, usually no more than 200kb and it auto-updates every time you tweak something like changing a character’s texture or adding new shapekeys.

Lastly, i never do double-linked stuff. If i want to have a particular object appear twice i either append it or add a second group to it so it can be animated separately as well.