Working in the right collection based on the active selected object

I’m trying to understand the logic behind Blender UX decisions when it comes to working with collections and I’m struggling with it.
Right now, if I have multiple collections and I select an object inside Collection B if I then create a new object I would expect this new object to be part of Collection B. That’s not the case, though, because Blender works based on the selected collection.
So, when I created the object the selected collection was perhaps Collection A and that’s where the new object gets created.
This is rather confusing. If I start working in a particular collection is because I want to work on that collection. Also, the indication of the active collection is rather subtle, to say the least.
The other argument I heard is that objects can leave in multiple collections which is why collections work this way. This is also confusing. Having the same objects in multiple collections can only generate great confusion and lead to messy scenes.

Right now, every time I select an object in one collection and then I create a new one, every single time my scene ends up like a mess as I think the new object is part of a particular collection only to find out that my new objects are actually in some other collection.

Now that I’m starting working with several collections, the workflow is becoming truly convoluted.

Is this way of working really necessary?


As I mentioned before, you’re asking questions that aren’t support questions. In support section we focus on helping people use Blender as is, so I’ll move this thread to the general disussions. And with that out of the way…

How is indication of active collection subtle? It’s displayed in the 3D viewport. I can’t see how much more obvious it should be, save for obnoxious “in your face” pop-ups. How would you suggest making it more obvious?

Personally, yes, I think the way it is now is fine. User is in control which collection they’re working on all the time, with it not switching on its own. I’d rather prefer having a selection that’s part of different collection but still be able to add objects to the collection I’m actually working on, than having to deselect objects or explicitly select collections every time, which is what would be necessary with how you seem to want it to work. Though I’m not even sure… By you, if you have an object selection that’s in Collection A, how would you make Collection B active? It’s going to be absolutely inconsistent!

Collections work more like tags rather than folders. The confusion probably stems from how interacting with them in the outliner makes them feel like folders. I’m not sure how they could improve this.

I’ll respond only to the first part of your reply as I’m taking a break in the middle of a job, but I definitely want to reply more in deep later.

What do you mean you’ll move this thread to general discussion? That’s where I posted following your advice after the other thread I created in the support section.

Ok, I’ve got a few minutes. A couple of notes on the “more obvious” part.

First, the relation to the collection is not clear at all in the viewport:

Also, assuming this would work, why should I only rely on the viewport? We have the outliner why shouldn’t be clear in that area as well?
That triangle getting overlaid is extremely abstract. Why a triangle? Does it represent the collection or the object? If it’s the latter than is not the collection that gets highlighted here but the mesh? This is very confusing!

How to make it clear?
2 min mock-up:


and there are many other ways to make it more clear.

Yellow is color relative to object. For a Mesh object, icon is a triangle. For a light, icon is a light bulb. For a camera, icon is a camera.
So, when you select an object, it becomes active object. Properties in Properties Editor are relative to this object. -> In outliner, its icon is highlighted, its name is colored and since 2.81, its line is colored in blue.
You can make transformations and operations relative to that active object. It is possible that you may want an object as active but don’t want it in your selection.
It is last object selected. But if you re-click on it, it may stay active object without being part of selection.
So, active object may be in a collection that you don’t want to work on.

There was a GSOC to imrpove outliner. Major requested was about synchronizing selection in viewport and outliner. That are blue lines.

You can continue discussion, here, to request a better highlighting of active collection in future releases.
Collections are a new feature. In 2.79, blender had groups and layers. Collections is a replacement of both since only 2 releases. So, it can be improved.

Except Scene Collection exclusion, that is what current outliner looks like when collections are hidden in viewport. (you can cycle through collections in viewport by pressing 1,2,3, etc… of keyboard, not numpad)
Icon of active collection is highlighted.
By default, that is main collection named Scene Collection.
For internal reasons, all objects have to be in a collection.
Scene Collection is the most basic level. It is a collection that can not be deleted.

You just have to click on line of collection you want to work on, to make it the active collection.
And at that moment, its icon is highlighted.

  1. Perhaps you’ve misclicked when you were creating this thread, it was placed in Basics & Interface support section (turns out it was @Fweeb who put it there). I moved it tp #general-forums:blender-and-cg-discussions.

  2. You were talking about the indication of active collection, not collection that current selection belongs to. That is what’s shown in the viewport. Why rely on viewport? Because that’s where you’re working.

  3. I agree, that active collection itself isn’t highlighted in outliner is a problem, its slightly accented icon doesn’t stand out sufficiently. In fact, it may even be a bug (it was being highlighted in 2.80). The new outliner (2.81 and up) has a few of those, as well as a few oversights to work out. The developer who worked on the new outliner isn’t very active right now, so fixing it up might take a while, unless someone else picks it up. Blender’s UI is still in a flux, pieces falling out is par for the course.

Still, you continue going on as if selecting an object somehow changed active collection. It does not, and IMHO it should not, for reasons stated in my previous post. To add to them, what to do when you select not one, but twenty objects? A hundred? Each belonging to a different collection? Which can also be spread out in the outliner?

To be clear, this post was originally posted in #general-forums:blender-and-cg-discussions (where it still is not the correct category). I was the one who moved it to #support:basics-interface as it reads like it’s a support question. However, at this point, this is more of a discussion about the development of Blender, so I’ve moved it to #general-forums:blender-discussion.

Yay, the migrating thread! :slight_smile:
Thanks, I was wondering why I saw it in B&I since it did seem from another thread that @Andrew_Ray was going to post this in discussions. Must’ve missed it.

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Wow, I must admit, collections are the door to headaches!
The more I read from other users’ answers here, the more it sounds confusing.

For instance, it seems that what I showed in the GIF where no matter what object I select the collection overlaid in the viewport it’s always the first one, it’s supposed to be the “normal” behavior?

And how nice is this?

The torus is selected but the cube is highlighted (but not selected). Bug, normal behavior or just the absurd way collections work?

How to deal with objects part of multiple collections?
I’m sure there are solutions.
Like this one, for instance.

Maybe each collection gets selected (as in the C4D screenshot above) or only the last selected object makes the related collection selected.

I’ll go read the manual and watch tutorials about the collections because, at this point, they are the most confusing part of the whole Blender workflow for me. It seems they’re not groups, nor layers, and not empties either.

All in all, I wonder if my confusion is more derived by glitches in the outliner UI and if, with a more refined UI I would feel more comfortable.

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I add another problem, Blender doesn’t set the object or collection to Active unless you click on top of it, so if you use the up & down keys u’re given the impression of changing the selection but it’s not, so for example if you use “F2” for renaming then it takes you back to the Active object which is not the one selected, very confusing.

the only indication is there is a slight difference of highlight between the active and selected.

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I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds this rather cumbersome.

Bug, and has nothing to do with collections, at all. Just a bug in outliner.

You’re trivializing this. When you have a couple hundred object and several dozen collections that “solution” falls apart.
And, once again: in Blender, you select active collection once. Which means you are in control of where new objects get added to. With your approach you’d have to either constantly switch collections manually, or move new objects into the one you need, manually. So far you haven’t presented any convincing argument for switching collections based on selection.