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My understanding is that linked duplicates share an object's material properties and mesh data, but not its object transform properties. In a scene I am working on, I very much like the efficiency of having the mesh data being shared while also being able to scale and rotate instances. But I need to be able to assign a different image texture to each instance sharing the mesh's UV map (which comprises only a small portion of the mesh). If there is no way to make an actual linked duplicate do this, is there some other approach that will keep the mesh data linked?

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Keep the object data linked, but make the material linked to the Object, not Object Data:

enter image description here

From there, make a new texture for each object-linked material. That way, several objects can have different textures, while still sharing the same object data.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just tried this, and it worked like a charm. Thanks so much! $\endgroup$ – Plenus Franckly Jun 15 '13 at 2:18
  • $\begingroup$ My only gripe is that I have yet to figure out how to give them different textures in the texture (as opposed to wireframe) 3D preview mode. $\endgroup$ – Mutant Bob May 13 '15 at 18:13
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By default a material slot is linked to ObjectData (and then a material is added to the slot). In your case change it so that the material slot is linked to the Object and then add/assign a material.

You can have some material slots that link materials to ObjectData and when needed link to Object. So your objects are still using the same mesh (not duplicating it) but only duplicating material for chosen material slots.

Note: The defaults can be customized from the User Preferences Editor's ''Editing'' tab. Under ''Link Materials To'' section choose Object and save settings as default.

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  • $\begingroup$ This was an equally excellent answer, thank you so much! Some very useful insight for me. $\endgroup$ – Plenus Franckly Jun 15 '13 at 2:28
  • $\begingroup$ @PlenusFranckly this might be of some help too.. blender.stackexchange.com/questions/613/… $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Jun 15 '13 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ @iKlsR Very good link, will spend some time with it. More than just trying to solve one scene's issue, I want to improve the working model in my head for how data is organized in Blender. Big step forward here. And as a bonus, by replacing copies with links in my .blend, the filesize shrunk over 65%! $\endgroup$ – Plenus Franckly Jun 15 '13 at 16:26

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