Some of my blend file previews are shaded and colored. Most of them are just solid shaded:

enter image description here

enter image description here

How can I get a colored, nice shaded preview for all of my files?

fyi: i am using a mac...so a "windows only" solution won't help me.

  • $\begingroup$ did you color them in the Material > Viewport Display? $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Jun 29, 2021 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ Äh…no…cause I didn’t know 😀 $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jun 29, 2021 at 7:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's a really good question. I really don't know, I only know it has neither to do with the Shading Mode in the moment you are saving the file, nor if the material has a given color for Viewport Display, so that it looks colored in Solid Mode. Or if any of these factors have an influence, I cannot willingly decide what I want to see in the thumbnail by changing any of these settings. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2021 at 7:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ äh...possible duplicate 🤦‍♂️. blender.stackexchange.com/questions/170712/… $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jun 29, 2021 at 7:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ so that was my answer as well ^^ Material > Viewport Display $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Jun 29, 2021 at 8:07

2 Answers 2



You get colors in the preview, if your objects have materials which don't use nodes (this is the case when the "use nodes" button isn't checked).

enter image description here

or if you choose a color in material -> viewport display. Then this color will be shown in the preview.

But...there must be some other possibilities, because i see more colored previews with different settings...

If once set your materials to "not use nodes" and the preview was colored, you can set them back to "use nodes" and the previews will stay colored.

Ok, one new "rule" i found out: If you uncheck "use nodes" and set a color, this color will be used in the preview. If you then check "use nodes" it still will use the color of the "unchecked nodes" color in the preview.

  • $\begingroup$ That seems odd... as if the thumbnail preview is saved at some time and doesn't get refreshed - or refreshed at some (random?) intervals. Does this mean if I change the objects in the scene, the thumbnail won't show that either? Well, switching all materials to not use nodes to have colored thumbnails is definitely not worth the effort for me, if that's the solution :D $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2021 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ @GordonBrinkmann: The preview will be refreshed whenever you move/add a mesh object (i just tried) but the colors won't. So i think i you start a new blend file, this might be a solution. For old blend files...for sure not ;) I am also not sure whether it is a bug because it's seem to be weird... $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jun 29, 2021 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ This "Use Nodes" option is not available in Cycles, so to get your Cycles file colored in thumbnail there must be another way. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2021 at 8:26
  • $\begingroup$ oh sorry, yeah, i just tried out eevee so far. i will adapt my answer $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jun 29, 2021 at 8:27

Okay, this seems tricky. The linked answer to the other question here is only "half the truth". The following I found out for both Eevee and Cycles, although it seems like @Chris pointed out, that option 2. below is not working on Mac, only Windows.

In the Viewport Shading settings you can use the following three Color options if you want a colored thumbnail preview:

  1. Material: This will show the color you've set under Viewport Display in the Material Properties.
  2. Object: Enabling this will show the color under Viewport Display in the Object Properties.
  3. Texture: Now here comes the tricky part - if you choose Texture, the thumbnail will show the last Image Texture you've selected in the Material. If you select some other Texture Node like e.g. Musgrave, then the preview will show the Viewport Display color from the Material Properties. My guess is, this texture preview doesn't work with procedural textures, only image textures. Also it will always show the image mapped to the UVs at scale 1, no matter if you use other texture coordinates or maybe scale it up or down.

That said, there is still room for further investigation I suppose but that's a first approach on getting colored thumbnails where you can decide what colors you want there.

thumb options

And here how it turns out using Material (the object on the right has two different materials):


I've chosen different colors in the Object Properties so this is how it looks if I switch to Object:


And if I now switch to Texture and there is an Image Texture selected or you select one afterwards, at first this image is shown on the UVs of the object. And the preview won't change if you select the Mix RGB or Texture Coordinate notes afterwards:


However, if you select a node which is found under the Add > Texture menu in the Node Editor (in this example the Musgrave texture), the shading preview will now show the Viewport Display color set under Material Properties:


Here are the thumbnails:


  • $\begingroup$ sorry, but point 2 does not work -> preview won't change its color. Your answer sounds like "if you change to object your preview will take the color of object properties -> viewport display" but it does not. It always take the color for the material -> viewport display $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jun 29, 2021 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ It works. If you change the Viewport Shading Color to Object, the thumbnail will change its color if you have set a color in the Object Properties. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2021 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ not in my version. 3.0.0 alpha on mac $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jun 29, 2021 at 9:38
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I base my answers on stable official releases to make sure you're it's not subject to change... unless I want to point out differences between official and experimental releases. And if the problem depends on the Mac version, I only have Windows so I can't try that, sorry. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2021 at 9:41
  • $\begingroup$ and 2.92 doesn't work too $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jun 29, 2021 at 9:43

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