A few months ago, I was working on a proposal to enhance the workflow in the compositor. I decided against posting it as every time I try something like this, I’m usually met with a little hostility.
In essence, my argument was this:
Using viewer nodes is not a particularly good workflow, because you have to constantly disconnect and reconnect them to get a good idea of what the composite nodes are doing. It’s an annoyance, and it’s messy.
My alternative workflow is this: If you have the ‘backdrop’ option enabled, you should be able to click the node you want to view, and have the results automatically shown in the background. Simple as that.
Shift+clicking two nodes that you want to compare should act the same as the splitviewer node, with a slider on the bottom to determine how much of each node you want to view. This one workflow enhancement would make my node setups much less complex as I could remove all the unnecessary viewer nodes.
So If you decided against it – why are you posting this now?
Because it turns out that Blender already has very similar functionality, but it’s pretty well hidden. I follow development pretty closely, so the chances are that if I don’t know about it, neither do a lot of people.
How it works is this: You can shift+ctrl+click any node you want to view, and as long as you have the ‘backdrop’ option enabled, you can view the results in the background.
If you have a renderlayer with multiple passes (let’s say image, z, and speed) repeatedly shift+ctrl+clicking will cycle through those passes. This is so much faster than having to reconnect viewer nodes to each of the passes to see the results!
This brings up a couple of questions; Doesn’t this pretty amazing functionality make viewer nodes obsolete? and why on earth is something so useful so well hidden to so many people?