Materials management strategy

I’m getting more comfortable with Blender and building my materials and node groups.

I know assets management is in the plans for the 2020 but who knows when exactly it comes and in what state. I’d like to begin using Blender more efficiently now but struggle to understand how to mange materials/assets library.

Can you share your strategies? How do you handle this aspect of Blender?

Using blend files as libraries is pretty straigth forward. Not only for materials, but for any datablock.

The only thing that needs to be done is to give the datablocks a fake user, and to create the data-previews for easy browsing.

Is there a more streamlined way to do this? I’ll have to manage materials/group nodes first in a .blend file and then append them from a file each time I need them. Is this the best I can hope for for now until we see assets management implemented in Blender?


What is this? I’m not familiar with the term.

I keep all my custom math library function stuff and custom generator node groups in a separate file which is linked in, then save startup-file. If I update the the library file with a new function, I have to redo it, but previously linked functions won’t get duplicates.

Probably file/data-previews. Doesn’t do anything for node groups, but I guess will create previews for things like objects and materials. Because it doesn’t allow me to save a custom image of it (that I know of), I hardly use it. Not working as good or as seamless as I’d like it to.

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Thumbnail navigation when linking asset from a base materials file, yes.
Had to regenerate data-previews in the materials file.
(Created this file right after 2.8 launch)
File ‣ Data Previews ‣ Refresh Data-blocks Previews
and save.

Generating previews is on by default but you can check in
Preferences ‣ Save & Load

Blender will generate automatically previews for some type of data, mainly shading-related ones (images, textures, materials, lights, worlds).

For scenes, collections and objects, there is a manual process.

Thanks for this tip and the smart “linking and save startup file” !

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There are plenty of addons around that speed up the append process. Try them out to find out which suits you better.

Try to use some external libraries for materials.
For example - BIS:

Clever! I like this solution. My materials asset library is relatively small yet so it seems like a perfect solution for now. Thank you.

Thank you guys. I’ll also look into other suggestions.

If you can recommend any addons you enjoy using for assets management of big collections of materials, please do. I’d like to be aware of this for the future when my library grows.