View Layers and Collections

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


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.

  1. Hello,

    I would like to link the visibility and the renderibility of all my objects, in order to divide the time of checking and uncheking the two columns by two. Is it possible?

    Thank you

  2. How about a SIMPLE explanation by example? Suppose I want to move the camera and the lights to another “layer”, or “collection” whatever!? Y’know something something that no one would ever think of, or need to do! BTW the Emperor came by and I absolutely adore his new clothes… Oh, and I had a delicious glass of the refreshing 2.8 Kool-aid they were passing out…

  3. In Blender 2.7x having hundreds of objects per layer was not a problem.
    Visible layer option made it easier to sort the mess out.
    Moreover, one could select the object and see clearly on which layer it is, than click this layer hiding all others in one go.
    How to replicate this workflow in 2.8 collections?
    Or at least, how to show one collection, and disable all others with one click, like in 2.7x?

  4. How can i check whether or not an object is local view now. ob.layers_local_view[0] doesnt work no more. Do i need to check it with something new, i cant find the info about this.

  5. It would be nice to have a texturing/material system similar to that form C4d where they can be simply dragged and applied to whole “groups” or “objects” in the outliner :)

  6. Any progress on putting local view back?

  7. There is a big issue I cannot get around of, how I make the objects that are in one layer affect (shadow, reflection) the objects at a different layer? It does work on the final composing image, but not on the alphas. They appear just the object as if it was alone… but when composing we want the shadows and reflections too. Maybe I am missing something, not sure… I leave this video of how this was made before:


  8. Is there a way to apply different materials to the same object in different view layers?

  9. Hi, I have a question. I’m trying 2.80 since a few months. I love the way EEVEE is working, replacing the old Internal Render. But still exist a beg deal, for me. In my videos I often mix real footage with rendered objects. I used to work with internal, because in animation it was faster than cycles. Now I’ll try to do the same things with EEVEE. But I cannot do the complex works in compositor that I did with internal, because the render passes of EEVEE are too restricted and there’s no way, at the moment, to override the PBR materials carachteristics. I used to create transparent materials for catching shadows, that is a awesome feature if you have to do deep compositing. I also used render passes as Object Index and Material Index, Specular, Shadow, Emit… DO you think that they will be re-integrated in EEVEE rendering? Thank you, and sorry for my poor English!

  10. Give me “View Local” Back, Please!!!!

  11. Hi i didn’t try alpha yet but i can’t wait to get blender 2.8 19 more days
    oh and is it free?

  12. I just installed version 2.8 looking for improvements in the collection(s) features. I still am not sure about how collections are supposed to work in replacement of layers.. Ok I understand that is is like “‘grouping’ objects ? Reading the log above , I wonder about an object being in the master collection and an instance of that object placed in a collection..? What will be the relation between the two objects? For example I have in collection 1 the cube and in collection 1.11 the camera and the lamp. How do I get the camera active toward the cube? At this time I cannot grab the camera that is in its collection 1.11 but if I drag it in the collection where the cube is then I can grab it and position it and it will see the cube?
    Also about the Venn diagram, one object can belong to many spaces at the same time, but if that object is duplicated or instanced then what is what and how to operate on these objects?? Does the collections create links between objects ? Still I am not sure I get the whole idea.. in comparison to the old layer work flow..

  13. With version 2.8, blender has lost the ability to produce render layers with a single click for compositing … redo this in 2.8 if you can! see link:

  14. I use layers for a fast modeling workflow … Collections however seems more focused on “organization” . I use layers as a modeling technique to model different objects on different layers that way all the objects are not visible on the screen at once . Layers seem simpler and fast to use for a modeling workflow … However 2.8 isn’t out yet so I’ll wait until it’s finished to give my final opinion .

  15. I been messing around with 2.8 and have few questions. Example: i made one Cube Then Duplicate the Cude now I would like to Hide the First cube and only see Duplicate cube? how would I do it? I don’t see Eye Icon at Objects? Will Object Hiding be back ? or I’m just don’t understand how it works? I’m Using Maya key preset and use ctr+h object and Shift+ctr +h to unhide them it seems this would not work in 2.8 anymore :(. I would like to See more extensive tutorial how to use this collections system !

  16. Im looking forward everytime there is a blender improvement, i think having evee is a plus, even if i use blender internal for npr i dont complain , it will be much faster and cycles compatible, thats just fine things need to evolve. But as i was experimenting your build and i realized that there was no layers, no global/local and everything was grouped in collections my heart was broken, even the m key was useful and one click away now im desperately trying to unlink collections because they share the same dozens of objects, im spending a stupid amount of time just keeping an area of my render isolated for refinement. Even if i would want to focus on a single object the global local function was handy. As for the collections having the layers pannel removed just makes the interface morr abstract. Im an artist and not a bureocrat, i dont want to lose time managing collections i cant see in a pool pf objects. Even the outliner option to make things invisible in render is gone, guess thats a collection aswell. really hope some spiritual sucessor of layers to return, otherwhise this is a huge step backwards diluting the creative potential of this great tool.

  17. Open a script window. Select the lamp, object, collection, layer, node, or node option would display, highlight and/or move to the section of corresponding code within the script window.

    Such options could aid in the following; simplifying the workflow, allow the user to obtain a better understanding of the node as well as the corresponding code, and assist in troubleshooting the code.

  18. Later an animation and AI node could be created using the same general concepts. Thus leading to a node based workflow.

    Epic demonstrated a similar system for UE4.

  19. Assigning, Nesting, and Saving (ANS) Modifiers ;
    Each lamp, object, etc. is assigned a unique id.
    Each unique id can be assigned to one or more collections, layers, etc.
    Modifiers are assigned to the lamp, object, etc. unique id.
    Each modifier assigned to the lamp, object, etc. unique id is given their own unique id. The modifier’s unique id can then be assigned to other lamps, objects, collections, layers, etc. locally (user defined) or globally (to all lamps, objects, collections, layers, etc.), One or more of the assigned modifiers can be applied, saved (as custom modifiers, which the user can name), locally or globally by the user when desired.

    • This could allow for the creation of a node based modifier engine. Think about adding modifier inputs to cycle’s node editor. Each modifier could be driven by different nodes to provide greater control over the modifier. One major benefit would be a user defined DOF Tessellation system.

  20. Thanks again for this point !
    Somes questions :
    Collections will be linkable like Groups ? and will have dupli_group instance object in the target blend file ? In the futur we will should use Collections for manage link data like rigs, or still use Groups ?
    Thanks in advance for answers.

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

  22. 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?

    (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.

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

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

    This article made so easy to understand.

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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!!

  31. 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.

  32. Very nicely illustrated blog post – thank you for that. :)
    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:

    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 :)

  33. 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 :( , 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 :)

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. Great! This is how documentation should be. Thank you! :D

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

  38. Very nice explanation :-)

    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).

  39. Great explanation.. Clear and concise.

  40. Thanks for this cool explanation! Now is very clear :)

  41. 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.

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

  43. 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 :)

    • 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.

        • I agree that the mappings should be customizable. I think there should be a default mapping for the top collections as stated before so that you don’t have to create the mappings by hand every time.

    • Regarding collections now that I am using Blender 2.8, it would make sense that when creating a new collection it receive a mapping number automatically like it is now, and then either we can customize the original number for sub collections, like 1.1 or following the workflow or we can let the system automatically create sub classification like it is now, 1, 1.11, 1.111, 1.112 etc..

  44. 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.

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