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I got a short question: If I apply the array modifier, are the objects still instances or are they converted to real objects? I also don't want to change these objects.

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No. They are never instanced, even before the modifier is applied.

The array modifier makes a new copy of the mesh for each repetition, storing the same geometry over and over. This allows other modifiers to make modifications to the mesh as a whole. Unless you separate them after applying the modifier, they are all one object and part of the same mesh.

So they are never instanced, because they are never actually separate objects.


To instance objects with an array modifier, you could try using the technique in my answer here.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ok, but are they instances or real objects? $\endgroup$
    – Codey
    Feb 21 '14 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @BlenderShark They are not separate objects. They are part of the single object to which the modifier was applied. Unless you separate them, there are no objects to instance. $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    Feb 21 '14 at 20:15
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No, they are not instances (new geometry is created for every copy).

And moreover modifiers never instance objects, this is not how blenders modifiers work.

(For instancing look into dupli-objects)

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Adding an array modifier to an object duplicates the meshes according to the parameters

enter image description here

After appling the array modifier (still a single object) you could select all and Separate P Separate by loose parts to create an object for each mesh created by the array operator.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. And if I change he location in Edit Mode the objects are still instances? $\endgroup$
    – Codey
    Feb 21 '14 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ @BlenderShark No. They are part of the same object and the same mesh, so each vertex is stored separately. In other words, they never were instanced. (I'm not a developer and I could be wrong, but 99% certain that's the way it works) $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    Feb 22 '14 at 1:14
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Some additional information for general reference even though this is an old question...

I tested the use of array mod versus duplicates on a fairly simple object I’m working with to compare file size etc. The individual object has 197 verts and 222 faces with a combination of procedural and image textures and file size 528k. I needed a total of 5 copies of the object.

Using ARRAY mod the file size was unchanged,

Clicking “Apply” array the file size became 651k

Duplicating with ALT D the file size became 537k

Duplicating with SHift D the file size became 669k

In all versions there are 990 verts and 1110 faces. Array modifier before and after clicking apply remains as 1 object whilst regular duplication becomes 5 separate objects.

The difference in this example isn’t much but on a large scale or complex scene the choice between duplication methods could have a significant impact.

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Array Modifier will not create instances. To get instances sometimes it's easier to work with keyboard shortcuts:

Duplicate to distance of 5 along X axis: Alt + D, X, 5, Enter

Repeat duplication: Shift + R

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