parent/child behavior

hey folks,

I switched to blender some time ago and I really love it, but the parenting just doesn’t work the way it usually does in all the other programs I use.

So, I have a parant, say a null, and a lot of children to it. I want to put a modifier on the null to modify all the children.
As you know, that won’t work in blender. I read that a few times here, that people find that strange, compared to the behavior in other programs.

So my idea would be a new modifier. you could put that one on the null as first in the stack and that modifier simply defines, that the null is one object assembled of all the children, as if you would join all the children to a new single object.
that modifier could be called “join modifier”. it would make life so much easier for us. I could then insert e.g. a boolean after that and cut out all the children I put under that null, with just 2 modifiers.

any opinions here? maybe I missed something and there is already a simple solution for that?

thanks for your interest.


If you are referring to empties as nulls then yes you can’t put a modifier or a material etc. on it. Frankly programs that allow you to do this make no sense to me. I guess it’s a matter of what you’re used to. You might want to look at the make links menu under object, hovering over the entries should pop up tooltips that explain how to use them. I believe this is how most people do what you are describing, and note that materials can have multiusers but modifiers cannot.

As for putting a geometric modifier on a non geometric object for the sake of emulating another program’s features, well… I can’t help you out with that one.

yes, I meant empy when I said null (I’m used to this term from after affects, but it’s basically the same).
And you’re absolutely right when you say, it’s a matter of what you’re used to.
The behavior like it is now is useful often times, too. Of course I know the make links function, and that’s how I would solve this.
But with that Join modifier I talked about, users would have a simple choice, what behavior he/she likes better.
I would really love to just put a modifier on the parent and automatically everything I do the parent would affect the children, as if was one single object.
well, I’m a designer, and not a coder, maybe that is just not possible with a modifier…

thanks for your reply

In addons go to 3d view: Copy attributes menu and enable it…

this way you can copy and paste modifiers from the active object to all selected objects using ctrl c…

if you want to change a setting change it on one object and then copy it to the others again…

Mickael W.,

I like your answer.
I have a solution may be to experiment: Add boolean modifiers for all childrens and chose one children for each in Union and last add your action modifier and may be the result would be on all childrens and the father…I don’t know, I hasn’t tried…

There is an add on called the massive editor, you can use it to control the settings of multiple objects, or you can use the copy attribute addon its up to you.

well it looks like your problem have been solved with the suggestions given here. But in case you missed it here are some ideas.

  1. Objects and mesh data are not linked exclusively in blender. You can change them from the appropriate panels (object - mesh).

For example you can have a “cube” object use the mesh data of a “sphere”. But beware if you don’t assaign a fake user to the “cube” mesh data you will lose that data when you close blender.These temp data will have “0” in front of them in the lists.

  1. There is a unconventional usage such as deleting all the vertices inside and object. You can goto edit mode and delete everything and you will have an “object” which has a “mesh” data and that mesh data will be “null”. But you can add modifiers and materials to this “empty” object without problems.

  2. You can link object data between multiple selections with “ctrl + L”.Select all the children you want to copy modifiers and select the parent object the modifiers will be copied from. Then hit ctrl+L and choose “modifiers”. You can also link materials & other properties this way.note: Constrains & bone constraints can also be copied like this but it has a different command in Objects menu > “object/constraints/Copy constraints to selected objects”


Also – part of the problem with “features” like the one described is that, while they might be time-savers in a certain situation, they can very quickly become PITAs just a little farther down the line:

  • When you need to change one thing, but not another.
  • When you are (literally) trying to “debug” a scene to figure out why it isn’t reacting the way that you want it to.

These are the sorts of things that user-experience designers wrestle with, and it’s a conundrum.

Probably what would be needed here is some kind of new, but simple metaphor … maybe “groups” would do it already … and that is to expressly name the targets to which a particular modifier or set of modifiers should be applied. Another possibility might be “named modifier-stacks,” with the ability to associate the two. (However, see #1 above.)

You see, “parenting” already has other meanings in Blender, which are out-of-band to this particular application. Parenting implies relationships involving 3D space, analogous to “invisible but physical connections.” We already have too-many “mixed metaphors” in the Blender experience already. (The bastardization of the word, “layer,” immediately comes to mind.) Yes, something like this would be useful. However, I’m not convinced that it should be associated with parent/child relationships as those are currently envisioned.