View Layers and Collections

At popular confusion request we are shedding some light in the new View Layers and Collections inΒ Blender 2.8.

Where are the Objects?

In Blender, objects are not directly part of the scenes. Instead, they all get stored in a main database (basically the .blend file). And from there they are referenced into as many Scenes you like to use.

 

In 2.7 the Scene simply referenced its objects directly, as a single list. In 2.8, however, all the Scene objects are part of a new concept: the “master collection”.


Collections

While the master collection contains all the Scene’s objects, the user can also make their own collections to better organize these objects. It works like a Venn diagram, where all the objects are part of the master collection, but can also be part of multiple collections.

 

The result is a clear and flexible way to arrange objects together on the Scene level.

Naming and Nesting

Collections can be named and sorted hierarchically. Just like folders can have sub-folders in any operating system, collections can have nested collections too.

For example: a house collection can contain a bedroom collection, which in turn contains a furniture collection referencing a bed, a cabinet and other objects.


So far we discussed managing a Scene, organizing it as collections of Objects. Now we look at how to put the collections to an actual use. That is where the new layer system comes into the picture.

View Layers

In 2.8 the visibility controls are part of View Layers, designed to help organizing what you want to see or work on.

 

View Layers (or ‘views’) reference to Scene collections, and allow to set their visibility, selectability and other options. Each View Layer can use any collection you wish, and multiple View Layers can use the same collections or different collections.

In that sense this new View Layer is similar to the 2.7 “render layer” – but since View Layers are now part of how we work with workspaces and viewports we decided to name it differently.

An exciting future option for the 2.8x roadmap is to use View Layers as compositing units, also for real-time rendering. For simplicity now, we stick to having a single ‘active View Layer’ per Blender window.

 


That’s all folks

We will soon implement an interface in the viewport and the properties editor to give the collection and view layers all the attention they deserve.

In the meanwhile, keep an eye on the Blender 2.8 project and don’t forget to check the daily builds!

Post by Dalai Felinto, Pablo Vazquez and Ton Roosendaal.

44 comments 15,389 Views
  1. Awesome!
    One really great potential I see in the collections workflow:
    For instance with your house idea, it would be really useful to select the collection as one object. Like selecting the whole house like it was one object and move it, rotate it etc.
    Also for characters, objects like cars or many other things are composed of many objects but could be treated as one object.

  2. Very good explanation! Will there be an equivalent to fast layer switching with the number keys like in 2.7? I could hardly live without it.

    • Difficult to let go of that fast workflow πŸ™‚

    • We are trying to find the best way of having a similar functionality. The same goes for the ‘m’ shortcut.

      It’s a bit tricky with many things to consider:
      * should 1,2,3… map to top collections?
      * should it insted include nested collections?
      * should the user assign the keys or be automatic?

      But we have an initial implementation of this soon. And from there we can iterate until it’s a good working functionality.

      • To me, it should be mapped by default by top collections, but you can manually change it in the properties window.

      • * should the user assign the keys or be automatic?

        This, absolutely this.

        You could just let us map up to 10 favorite ones at a time, would work sort of similar to how MMORPGs have skillbars I guess. Could also have multiple presets we could make so we could quickly switch between them, I guess, but that might just over-complicate it.

  3. Nice work …..carry on for better open source

  4. One thing I would like to see is the ability to pump out alpha channels per object or material for use compositing inside or outside of Blender. Right now, the ID Mask system is not good because of the aliasing artifacts. Help me understand why the material and object ID masks, when generated, can not be alpha masks. If Blender can render an alpha mask per render layer channel, I would think the ID mask channels could do the same thing. I can render pure alphas with Maxwell Render per object or material. Right now I do not have enough layers to isolate all my objects as render layers for compositing. If this new layers system allows up to set up an infinite amount of render layers than mabye that will solve my dilemma.

  5. Thanks for this cool explanation! Now is very clear πŸ™‚

  6. Great explanation.. Clear and concise.

  7. Very nice explanation πŸ™‚

    When working with collections I often find myself adding an object in too many collections. It would be nice with some functions for cleanup like selecting multiple objects, right clicking a collection and using something like “remove from other collections” so that the selected objects only belong to the collection that I right clicked (and master collection).

  8. An excellent presentation with great graphics and layout. Thanks.

  9. Great! This is how documentation should be. Thank you! πŸ˜€

  10. Then we won’t have the possibility of move objects between collections with 1,2,3,… hotkeys like actually?

    • Hopefully they allow you to map collections to the 1,2,3 hotkeys, and still use the m+number keycombo for moving objects around.

  11. is the fast layer switching going to come back? I strongly depend on it to work in scenes with more than a couple objects, I don’t want to have to screw around with the mouse to do what I can do today with the number keys and M.

    I’m all for improving the layers and grouping, but fast switching is really, really important!

    • Yes it is. Details are still pending (see my reply above), but we will have something sooner than later.

  12. Much care on the shortcut keys to control layers visible like in blend 2.7x, its very useful, easy and quicky. what’s about object groups, collections, view layers, render layers and mask layers, the collections much more like object groups, but few differences. Does it can control post effects in 2.8? like collection 1 enabled bloom, collection 2 enabled volume, but all have AO effects, even different setting on soft shadow in different collections.

    By the way, the new top bar is too complex, all on the top, much more like Autodesk style, please keep it simple, keep blender is blender, not iphone x, a joke πŸ™ , if possible, I think add hotkey to split/merge editor is much useful, like in houdini, drag by the mouse not so easy. sorry for my poor English.

    • Effects that affect the entire viewlayer can’t be set per collection. However, shadow blur settings (Eevee), camera visibility (Cycles), and other related settings will be possible in the future as per the override design.

      As for the top-bar, what you see in 2.8 now is *not* the top-bar. For a better sense of what’s coming, you will need to look at the “topbar” branch.

      • Thanks for your reply, happy to hear the idea about the shortcut key, looking forward πŸ™‚

  13. Very nicely illustrated blog post – thank you for that. πŸ™‚
    I wish all documentation were laid out as beautifully as this. Can’t wait to test out the new layers and collections workflow.

    By the way, here’s a short video with some comments I recorded for a conversation on our Blender Professionals Slack after several people expressed their frustrations with Blender’s Outliner:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0xqL7Ik7NRST1ROeGtzc0wxdVE/view

    I misspoke when I said “fairly useless”, that’s of course an exaggeration, but I do think Blender’s Outliner is significantly behind those of Maya, MODO or C4D when it comes to scene organisation.

    Are there any changes to the Outliner planned in 2.8?

    • We are glad you liked the illustrated post. I’m personally glad we can prioritize high-quality communication every now and then, and Pablo did a superb job with those graphs.

      I can’t comment on other software design. But I agree that the Outliner can be improved. In fact filtering is indeed one of the most important changes we can bring to the Outliner. I have an unpublished design document covering this even, it should be public in the coming days.

    • Outliner, yes. Would be nice to be able to perform operations on objects directly through outliner, like adding modifiers, assign new material and such. I know, I know, this is not for feature requests, just thinking out loud πŸ™‚

  14. Thank you for the easy to understand description!
    What I’m still missing is a description of how to organise these collections and views inside Blender. Like how to create a new collection, move objects from one collection to the other, etc. Also, these functions and buttons seem to be located all over the place. Sort of a central “view and collection editor” would be nice.

    • The design for this will come next. We thought it was important to establish and communicate the concepts of collections and view layer first, so even the UI team have a well defined start point.

  15. Guys, What about the templates and workspaces?? And… When is blender 2.8 expected to be out??? I can’t wait! It’s really great to see such improvements!!

  16. You know it would also be cool if Armature bone layers had a similar system! Would be easier to categorize bone groups but also have an ability to name these groups without the constant need for a script. Not to say you wouldn’t need a script but may be more simpler for animators

  17. thanks for the blogpost!

    A nice addition to collections is to have them be able to search for objects in the scene. So if you would like to have all lights in 1 collection you could just query on the name.

    Master Collection
    – collection1
    – – subcollection1
    – *collection2 *light*
    – – toplight
    – – keylight
    – – rimlight

    could be based on regex rules for inclusion and exclusion

  18. This looks like tags. I remembered the way firefox organize bookmarks. I love that about Firefox.

    This article made so easy to understand.

  19. I still don’t get it. For example I want to edit a particular object (let’s say a chair inside of a car) and I want to isolate it to quickly edit it but it’s “covered” by some other objects that get in the way (car’s body, windshields and such) but that chair “belongs” to it’s overall hierarchy, so I would prefer it to be on one list. How do I do that? Now it looks like there is no isolate object at the moment. Will it be back? Or do I have to put that chair to a new collection just to do that? It does not look to be a better approach than before, (at least for me). Another thing is, if I have an armature and parented objects under it, for example I want to hide character’s hair to edit head, do I have to put hair to another collection to hide it?

    • Objects isolation (or “Local View” as it’s currently called in 2.7) will be back. Implementation of what happens under the hood is a different topic but the tool will be there. It’s super important.

  20. I definitely think this system should replace the current Group instance workflow; A default Group collection of collections that uses the current Group shortcuts and includes all the Group functionality.

  21. I have a suggestion for blender 2.8.
    Instead of only proximity loops for sharpening sides of a subsurfed object, there can be something called pinning subsurf. Users can select a point/side/face and decide how much they want to sharpen it, doing the same job as proximity loops.This method will allow allow more flexibility, since users can edit the mesh even after they have sharpened the edges. Please tell me what you think about this.

  22. Hi,
    Another thx for the clear explanation.
    I have a question : would this new system allow for animating collection visibility ?

  23. So, quick question (sorry if I missed the answer): if I have a property set on two different collections with different values, what happens to something which is inside both collections?
    e.g. Suzanne in the example above is in Collection 1 and Collection 2 – if I have the same render property set on each collection which one would apply so Suzanne?

    Medoway
    (again, sorry if I missed this in the explanation or if that is coming in the next update…)

    • The last one. We are doing top to bottom evaluation, similar to how we do modifiers.

  24. Remember, switching ability of current layer system is fastest at the moment.
    That speed makes modeling workflow of entire software.

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