Jumping around to arbitrary materials? / Editing materials?

Please explain exactly what’s going on here. Are these the same file? Are these the same instance of Blender? Are these 2 different builds of Blender. Is it possible to have 2 scenes open at the same time in 1 blender and have 2 different things selected/active in 2 different scenes in 2 different windows? is there an in depth tutorial that explains this aspect of Blender?

In this case it is the same file. It works with multiple files open as well, of course, but you’d have to refresh the master file then.
The upcoming asset browser changes the workflow a bit and simplifies linking/appending assets.

Correct, it is the same instance of Blender. I created a new Main Window via the Window menu.

No, just the same single instance, as I mentioned.

Of course! That’s always been possible in Blender. Create as many main windows as you need, and switch each main window to display a different scene.

Then each main window works independently from the other scenes that are open.

In this particular case I manage and work with instanced shaderballs that are assigned various materials in one scene, and when I adjust one of the materials it updates the other scene’s materials as well.

I noticed your earlier comment about placing all your material cubes far off in the same scene, but that is not necessary if you place them all in a different scene. Also simplifies loading these material libs in a new project: just link or append the scene in your new file.

there is so little content about this on youtube

Also there is the mind boggling behaviour of the Window → New Window command. Why does that thing even exist??? You open it and it’s just a 3d viewport, nothing else, then you switch workspace tabs in the first window and the other window does something seemingly unpredictable, it always “switches” but sometimes it’s just 1 editor instead of all the editors for that workspace tab. It makes no sense to me. Like I switch the main window to compositing and the 2nd window switches to layout. I switch the main window to layout and the 2nd window switches to a 3d viewport and nothing else.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people tried “new window” first, found it to make no sense, and then never tried “new main window”.

No kidding about “little content”. I think either people just don’t know about it, or it never got implemented in a way that reached the mainstream. I feel the same way about Scenes: there’s very little conversation about good ways to use them. --Or maybe it’s so obvious that it’s not felt necessary, and I’m just slow.

That command is the same as the View–>Area–>Duplicate Area into New Window.

These windows are linked to the scene that you are working in as well as the workspace. Which is not the case with “New Main Window”.

One thing to understand is that ANY regular window’s state is saved in a workspace.

For example. You created a new window via either WIndow–>New Window or View–>Area–>Duplicate Area Into New Window.
You are working in the Layout tab, and the new view is a 3d viewport. You then switch to the Modeling tab, and switch that new 3d viewport to an Image Editor.

From that point forward the floating window will show the image editor when working in the Modeling tab. Switch back to the Layout workspace, and it will return to the 3d viewport.

Now, I’ve discovered a GUI bug: it seems that whoever amongst the dev team saved the default Blender settings file, left custom settings in there for the first 3 new windows, probably because they used three separate windows for work.

A new window should display the default 3d viewport in ALL workspaces. But the first three new window instances do not: depending on the picked workspace these first 3 change their content. If you add a fourth or a fifth new window you’ll notice the difference.

As far as I can tell, residual settings were left behind in the settings file. It’s nothing serious: just browse through all the workspaces and change the view of the new window(s) to what you need for each workspace, and done. I saved a new startup file by opening three windows, then adjusting each workspace’s content of these windows, and from that point forward it will behave as you want.

As I mentioned earlier, the option to open a new separate main window that displays a separate scene was first introduce way back with the first 2.5 alphas. The difference was that a Global Scene preference setting controlled whether the new windows would be ‘linked’ to the current scene, or behave independently. It was one of the new features that I loved most, because I could work on multiple scenes simultaneously and organize in a more effective manner.

This remained the same in 2.6x and 2.7x releases, until the introduction of the revamped 2.8x series. The current more flexible window system was introduced.

As for the question why relatively few users know about this? I suppose it is because it is so different compared to other 3d apps. In other apps there are no scenes, only files, so most 3d users coming from other apps are familiar with “flat” single scene files, but are familiar with linking / referencing external assets.

And 3D beginners tend to think in single scenes setups, and most never get to use or see the benefits of the scene system in Blender even when they get more experienced.

To top this off, most users never touch the manual and assume they know how things work in software based on other software experience. But many never truly do - that is just human nature and UX theory.

Personally, I love working in multiple scenes and with at least two main windows. Perhaps that is because I began to make the switch to Blender during my LightWave 9 years, and I was used to the Modeler<–>Layout workflow, and I noticed I could do this with scenes in Blender. I still separate heavier models and set pieces in separate scenes for use in main scenes till this day.

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That’s some good detective work. I may be back later with questions, especially about linking.

Things to note about linking collections versus objects into another scene/file:

  • linking an object allows you to make changes to the object in any scene it is used in: the original scene, the master scene, and other scenes.
  • any change to a linked object cascades throughout the other scenes. Except materials that are set to Object instead of Data level.
  • Applying modifiers to a linked object also cascades to the other instances.
  • instancing collections and using these instances in other scenes is the alternative workflow. Collection instances cannot be edited directly and unfortunately cannot be assigned modifiers such as arrays.
  • Instancing collections and linked objects without affecting the original is possible via the Object–>Instancing panel, however. Parent your collection or linked object to a mesh and you will be able to instantiate one collection based on vertices or polygons
  • add a geometry node to this control mesh to finely control the instancing.
  • collections may be used as particles as well, furthering the scope for instancing.

I just wish collections could have their own modifiers assigned… That would be the icing on the cake.

I’d rather it be named “add workspace window” with a tooltip containing everything you said about it. (Zbrush has the best tool tips, so informative, much knowledge)

I’d rather there be a “no editor yet chosen” state available for editors and new windows.

Blender should really polish and promote this aspect. I’ve seen Modo users brag about how Modo can have multiple “scene FILES” open in the outliner and drag things between them. C4D user brag about how it has multiple tabs at the top for multiple files open in the same one instance of the program.

Before I found the Blender Launcher program I did not know of an easy way to run multiple instances of the same Blender version so I can work of 2 different files at the same time and I still lack knowledge about how to use multiple scenes effectively.

I wish there was a command to “export scene to its own file and delete it from the current file”. If I were to use multiple scenes I can imagine having a file so large that it becomes a pain to back it up to my Google Drive or Dropbox and I’d want a quick and easy way of splitting it out to its own file.

This is something different from using shared mesh data?

I find it useful to make different scenes with all (or most) of the objects linked except for the cameras and lights. That way I can flip through the scenes and see different camera views with their specific lighting. For example with cameras inside and outside of a building.

Maybe we should start a new thread to share different things you can do with scenes as there are many possibilities.
I have posted on your instancing thread (which is very interesting) about instancing animated collections to scenes.

Yes please.

ABSOLUTELY. I would use the hell out of that feature. Wished for it many times.

Please put a feature request in at RCS. iirc, I’ve already done so, but redundancy there is a virtue.

Yes ! objects (object datablocks) that are in a given scene (scene datablock) are “linked” to that scene much in the same way that an animation (action datablock) is linked to an object. So the same behaviour applies : you can link an object to an infinity of scenes. It’s the same object, but visible in several scenes. Basically it’s the same as collections in this regard.

How to use all this has also been a big question of mine. Throughout the years I’ve come to use Blender scenes as shots part of a given sequence, so that I could re-use environments throughout. I would just link the “environment” and “lights” collections into these scenes so that editing, say, the lights’ position in either of them would update them all. Each scene has its own active camera too, and its own frame range for rendering, so it works pretty well for that purpose.

I’ve never investigated how characters could be handled this way, maybe through NLA ? I’m not sure that would work.

I just made a test scene and I did something so arcane Blender stopped responding to “play”. Apparently linking a character in two scenes and adding one NLA strip of the same action in each of the scenes makes Blender unable to playback. Anyway, the workflow is still obscure.