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I'm trying to get blender working with my coworker so we can both work at the same time. I've got a model that will have Lots of parts. The data is from Rhino an is very high mesh. So I want to keep one file with the object data. We can bring that data in as an linked file so our working blend file isn't huge. The only way we'll change the data is fly around it, maybe open and close a door. Really basic stuff. Although, I need to animate a material on one or two pieces as well.

I've only found one reasonably good resource on how to effectively use links. The problem is they assume I'm already working with a bunch of other people, but we're Both trying to be jack of all trades here and we just split things up as we go.

So in testing things, I Immediately hit a giant roadblock, and I don't quite understand what's going on.

I created 3 cubes, and put each one in a collection that is parent of the next.

I thought there was a way to do some parenting, and have that come through. I tried doing it with some bones, but just can't seem to figure it out. I've found you have to go to Object>Relations>make proxy in order to access the data Some. But I can't figure out a way to access it in a way that would keep parents.

Am I on a wild goose chase? Once I import the data, I want to just save that off how it is. It actually comes in already in nested collections, which seems to be part of the issue. So I have a door with 20 parts or so. The screws are in one collection. The frame in another, the handle in another. And they are nested based on groups essentially, so that each above it is the parent for moving. That's how assemblies work.

I'm not sure how to go about this in Blender, in terms of splitting up the files. Ideally, I'll have a file for that cad data. I'd like to just link the collections. This way, anything I put in them gets updated. However, since they don't have pivot points or anything, I'm not sure how animating works.

Does anyone have decent resources for this? I'm just plain lost as to where to start figuring out an intended workflow.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi. Please make the title of your question specific to the problem you are having and not just the general topic. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Ray Mairlot Jul 1 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ I thought that Was my question? I want to know how to link nested collections. Sorry, did the best I could think of. $\endgroup$ – Andy Engelkemier Jul 1 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ Hi. I guess I'm still not sure of what the actual problem is. You say "I created 3 cubes" etc. but I'm not clear on what happens when you try and link it. Are the collections coming in but no longer nested? You talk about parenting, but parenting isn't quite the same as nested collections. I think the question could do with a very simple example, with "This is what is in the original file" and "This is how it comes in" preferably with screenshots of the outliner to show your example hierarchy. $\endgroup$ – Ray Mairlot Jul 1 at 14:33
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(Not a full answer but comments have limited characters and i though what i had to say might still be useful)

I (also) don't understand the problem exactly, but it seems to me part of it is that you see collections as the equivalent of sub assemblies in engineering software like for instance Solidworks or NX.

I have no experience with Rhino but i often import stuff from .step files or big projects (thousands of parts) made in programs like Solidworks. But i build assembly hierarchy without collections. I do use collections, for they are handy in various ways, but I use an Empty (or often a faceless circle mesh) as the root of my sub assemblies and parent the parts or objects to that. I'm not sure you can use collections in that way.

I don't like linking objects, because then you can't edit them in the main scene. But I understand linking would be beneficial because then you could have various team-members work on different parts, objects, or sub assemblies in separate files on a network. Instead of needing team-members to open the same main file that holds the entire project on a network, which usually is impossible.

I advice to figure out a workflow where (if you use them at all) collections are only in the main file/scene, and use normal hierarchy for everything else. But of course it depends on how you want to work exactly and your personal preferences.

If I'm in the right ballpark and you want to elaborate on what you want to achieve (or perhaps provide a link to the "reasonably good resource on how to effectively use links") I'd be happy to comment on it.

Alternatively you could look into how the BlenderKit Asset Library add-on works (ships with Blender). I believe it also uses collections to link geometry to a main scene. though I'm not sure how it works exactly or if something like that would fit your needs.

Edit:

The BlenderKit Asset Library works with Instancing of collections with Empties. But ofcourese you can do that yourself also. Maybe that might be helpful.

Press Shift + A, and choose Empty > Plain Axis. Then in the Properties window click the Object Properties tab and under Instancing click Collection. Here you can assign a collection to the empty. If you parent an empty with a collection you can have a hierarchy with collections, and since the root objects are empties, you can also animate them.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's fair. This project is likely a really good one to start on because the scene isn't very deep. I'm still using collections, but none nested. I'm having a difficult time figuring out workflow for linked files. We're both working from home and using OneDrive to keep things local. I only have a few moving parts and everything is rigid. Collections sort of suck because their pivot is automatically at zero. But it looks like you can use bones to animate linked objects, which obviously have a set pivot point. So for now I'm using one collection and just importing that, then using bones. $\endgroup$ – Andy Engelkemier Jul 1 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, you don't get many characters. So the bones will be used for animation, and I should only have one object in the scene for my object. Then the others will be lighting, cameras, etc. if you know a better workflow I'm listening. Took me a while to figure out how to even access anything from there. The collection lets you move an object, but only the whole thing. $\endgroup$ – Andy Engelkemier Jul 1 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand how you can animate a collection using a bone. I'm curious though : ) If it works for you then i see no problem with it. In any case, I edited my post to give some extra info that might be of use. $\endgroup$ – Fjoersteller Jul 2 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ If you have a bone in the collection then you can have access to it. Normally, I'd just use parents and dummies to animate hard surfaces. But linking a collection the only thing that keeps parents are bones, from what I can tell. I'm still figuring workflow out. I don't see many people animating a 700MB object though. So not sure about workflow. $\endgroup$ – Andy Engelkemier Aug 11 at 13:26

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