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I'm working on a scene with a lot of container ships, where the ship is always the same, but i'd like to have a different arrangement of containers on the ships.

I've modelled the ship and a container. Is there a way to create a group or something similar of different container arrangements and then add instances of the ship that automatically have one of the predefined container arrangements on top of them randomly?

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    $\begingroup$ You could use particle systems, there's an option to use a group, with pick random. Set up a group with all your predefined container arrangements. Downside is you wont be able to have each container as a singe object directly, and you have to manually change the seed for each instance. $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Sep 29 '16 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ @duarte could you turn this into an answer? $\endgroup$ – dr. Sybren Nov 1 '17 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, posted as answer. I won't have access to a computer with blender for a while though, so can't property expand or test into a full blown answer yet $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Nov 1 '17 at 15:46
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You could use particle systems, there's an option to use a group as particle pool, with pick random option.

Just set up a group with all your predefined container arrangements.

The downside is you wont be able to have each container as a singe object directly, and you have to manually change the seed for each instance.

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You could use a small script in python to change (randomly) the location, orientation and color of the container.

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