I normally use Octane render, both standalone and plugin version for Sketchup. I'm not at all an hardcore user. I'm trying out Blender in my freetime, just for fun.

When I use the standalone version of Octane, I normally export my sketchup model as obj, and link this file into Octane Render, with it's own node. When I make changes in Sketchup (or Gravity Sketch) I export again as obj and simply press a reload icon in Octane, and the model is updated.

I can't figure out how to do this in Blender. I have only found out how to import, but not link / refresh geometry.

Is it not possible or am I'm looking in the wrong part of Blender?


3 Answers 3


You can't do this with Blender and OBJ files. Using Alembic files referencing geometry is possible.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi dr. sybren I guess that requires that Sketchup exports ABC files? Skechup is at bit limited regarding export formats. The supported formats are 3ds, fbx, dwg, dwf, dae, fbx, ifc. I hoped that there was an easy workflow between Sketchup and Blender, like there is between Sketchup and Octane - but there is a lag of tools octane, as it's only a render program. I know that we could do all in Blender, model, render and animate. But it's not realistic, as all my colleagues are using Sketchup, and they find anything else than Sketchup to complicated. Jorgensen $\endgroup$
    – Jorgensen
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 9:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Technically you could write an add-on that stores some custom properties with each imported object, to indicate which OBJ file the object came from and what the timestamp of the file was. Those could then be used to find the changed files, delete the objects in Blender, and re-import the files. $\endgroup$
    – dr. Sybren
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks dr. Sybren. That's to complicated for me :-) I'll just play around then. And keep Sketchup / Octane render for work. $\endgroup$
    – Jorgensen
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 10:37

There's a paid addon for that https://gum.co/VdfWk which supports both obj and fbx:

Linker is an addon for Blender which provides a functionality to link fbx and obj files inside Blender. Whenever the source mode file is updated, it will automatically update inside blender scene as well. This solution was developed in order to meet the needs of colaborative work, and improve teamwork pipeline in various projects, including: game industry, commercial, movies and many other scenarios.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Links to answers are not answers, if the link goes down your answer becomes empty and meaningless. Either transcribe essential parts of the process here or post these as comments instead. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 23:11

Yes, this is possible 1 of 2 ways: 1) Simple - When you import an obj file, you will get both an object, and a mesh - you can change which mesh the object is referencing. So, importing Cube.obj you will have an object Cube referencing a mesh by the same name. Importing the same obj file a second time, you will have an object Cube.001 referencing a mesh Cube.001. You could then change the reference of the first object so that it is referencing the second imported mesh. Below, I have the mesh selected, and can change which mesh is referenced: enter image description here

2) A bit more work, but perhaps better in keeping your scene more organized. Use a separate blend file for importing and changing which mesh an object is referencing, then using Linking to link the object to your scene. How to update a linked object is nicely explained here.

  • $\begingroup$ doesn't answer the question. Linking means that blender itself imports the obj on opening the blend file. Your (1) states that the user has to import the obj every time it changed and take care of all references. Your (2) uses the same workflow for the separate blend-file (-> still no linking). Yes, linking works, but only between the blend files, not between blend and obj. $\endgroup$
    – quiliup
    Commented Oct 6, 2018 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ So it is possible, but the workflow is to cumbersome, compared to what I use now. So i guess that Blender will be the fun part in the freetime for now, and not move into my professional work as an architect. $\endgroup$
    – Jorgensen
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 9:51

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