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This is a basic (beginner) scene management question.

I'd like to produce a series of renders. Each contains a different set of objects, but they are all made out of the same set of materials and should all be lit and shot in exactly the same way.

I think the way to do this is to create multiple scenes in the same blend file. (Though if I'm wrong, and that's not the best way, please tell me.)

What I want to achieve is that certain things are the same across every scene (e.g. the lights and camera, the materials, objects that are part of the background, the compositing nodes, etc.), and if I change any of those things it will update all of the scenes automatically. But other things (the actual objects I'm modelling) should be unique to a single scene and not affect the others.

I guessed that the way to do this would be to create an "environment" scene, and then create linked copies of that for every object I want to model. I imagined I would then be able to add new objects to these linked copies without affecting the original, and that I would still be able to change the lighting, background etc. by editing the 'environment' scene.

However, it seems not to work like that. If I add an object to one of the linked copies, that object appears in the environment scene as well, and hence in all the other scenes. I don't seem to be able to add or delete an object from one scene without also affecting it in the others.

This leaves me a bit puzzled. It seems odd to be able to create linked copies of scenes if there isn't also some way to partially unlink them. Is there a way to add an object to the new scene only, without also changing the original? Or is there a better way to achieve what I'm trying to do? I imagine it's quite a common thing to do, but the documentation for scenes is rather sparse, and good explanations of the system are hard to find.

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  • $\begingroup$ Have a look into view layers. When using cycles you can set individual collections to indirect only or just exclude them, which might be the best solution in this case... $\endgroup$ – brockmann Jul 19 at 3:20
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Not sure if this is what you're trying to get but can't you put each set of objects as a collection and have the environment on a separate collection then you can just disable rendering of all collections but keep the environment and the set that you want to be rendered .

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  • $\begingroup$ +1, I suppose that would work, but it seems a bit fiddly compared to using scenes, because the outliner will get cluttered up with a big list of collections $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Jul 19 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ You can put collections inside collections you can have 1 Parent collection for the environment and a parent collection for each set of objects. $\endgroup$ – Motcho Jul 20 at 2:57
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I stumbled upon the answer myself after asking the question.

You have to make sure you're not creating the object inside a collection. Then it works as I expected it to, creating the object only in the new scene and not in the original. I was creating it inside the default collection (the one called "Collection") without realising it. To create an object outside of this collection, click on the top-level item, called "Scene Collection", in the outliner, before creating the object.

I guess this happens because the collection itself is shared between the scenes. If you create a new collection in the linked scene, you can add to that collection without affecting the original. This makes sense and is probably quite useful for managing which objects are shared between scenes and which aren't.

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