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I have created several designs for a particular project and they are related, but I don't want to have to keep recreating any similar elements, such as shared materials or textures.

How can I use the existing data in a new Blender file?

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  • $\begingroup$ How do you append? Do I need to be in the file that i want in the other one or is it the other way around? when i click on the file i want to append too it just opens it up showing the folders in it. $\endgroup$ – user6163 Sep 23 '14 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ It's the other way around. Open the file you want to "import" or append the data into, then press Shift F1 or file > append. Then navigate to the file that was the data you want to "import", select the type of data you want to append, then select the datablock you want. $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Sep 23 '14 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ These answers though great for importing meshes, but don't work for importing materials with procedural elements. I have yet to find a way to do this, though I am sure there is one. There are websites full of procedural textures and shaders which you can download, but using Append to bring in the files does not bring in a working material. In other words the setup with the nodes, which forms the procedural texture does not come in with the texture or materials files via Append or link. If anyone does know how to do this I would be eternally grateful! $\endgroup$ – Antiphones May 1 '15 at 17:58
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You can use "File -> Link" (Ctrl+Alt+O) or "File -> Append" (Shift+F1).

Each will open a File Browser Window, from which you can then choose the file that contains the existing data you want to re-use.

Linking:

Linking will simply create an instance of the existing data, such as a material or an object. This will mean that you must keep both files together, and if necessary update the path to the linked data. It is best to use relative paths for linked data.

Linked objects (note: objects in this context includes meshes, curves, cameras and lamps) have a teal outline (in the default theme).

A linked cube
A linked cube.

You can edit linked data (such as objects, materials, etc), but you will need to edit the data in the original file.

If you need to edit your linked data, there are a number of options:*

  • Make it a proxy object. Ctrl+Alt+P
    This allows you to edit the rotation, scale, and translation of the object.
  • Make it local. L

Your linked object must be selected when using either option.

  • With materials, you have to click the link button thingy button in material properties.
    Material panel

An example use case for linking is when you need to reuse an existing model in a game or animation, but don't need to modify it beyond the basics of rotation, scale or translation.


Appending:

This creates a full copy of the existing data, which you can modify without issue and include in the file you are editing. You do not need to keep both files together. You are also fully able to edit the appended data (such as an object, material, or scene) without affecting the original file from which you appended.

Appended objects have an orange outline when first appended (with the default theme), but once you deselect them, then select them again, they show as normal objects do.

An appended cube.
An appended cube.

Appending increases the size of your result blend file however, and uses more resources when editing, so it is not recommended unless you need to modify the appended data.

An example use case of appending would be when you need to create a variant of an existing model. It can save on time and effort.

For example, I created the Asiatic Black Falcon from the same original model as the Black Falcon by appending into a new file and making a few minor changes.

BlackFalconLine These two began as the same object.


Credit:

Further reading:

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi! Thanks for this interesting answer. Do you know where appended materials go? I tried to Append a material but I looked for it in the materials tabs and it wasn't there... (I ended up appending the object, copying its material to another object, then deleting, but for future reference...) thanks! $\endgroup$ – MicroMachine Feb 11 '16 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ @fabriced you have to select it from the drop down list (the sphere next to the material name at the bottom of the box). $\endgroup$ – A Wild RolandiXor Feb 12 '16 at 16:23
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If you just want to quickly copy a mesh from one file to the another, you can use Ctrl + C to copy the mesh to the buffer, then Ctrl + V in a new file to paste the mesh from the buffer.

Note: This feature is only available in Blender 2.66 and above.

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    $\begingroup$ I just tried this for the first time, and when I pasted, the object didn't appear! Then I realised that it was pasted into the same layer as on the original file, incase anyone is interested. $\endgroup$ – SteveW Jun 20 '13 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ +1 I had some problems with appending from file. This worked flawlessly. $\endgroup$ – Izzy Sep 3 '18 at 7:25

protected by David Oct 10 '16 at 11:24

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