Library override and Linked Bad Hunter Character

Use Link and Library Overrides to easily Import Character Rigs Into Blender

To get your character in a scene you could do a simple copy, and paste, right? Sure! A better option might be to link the character in your blend file and create a library override.

This post is a recap of the linked youtube video, or you might have found this first and prefer reading your tutorials, we got you covered too.

Either way, enjoy this overview of how to link a rigged character and the new library override feature.

What is linking?

A link creates a reference to any form of data in the source file. Almost everything that one blend file contains is possible to link to another. From objects to materials and from Rigs to entire Collections.

Contrary to a normal import/append the changes made in the source file, will update in the linked blend file as soon as this restarts.

This makes a studio’s workflow less rigid when, for example, client feedback asks for a change in character design. This way you can apply changes throughout all shots without manually adjusting the character in every scene.

Obviously the more you use a model in several shots, the more convenient this will be for you.

Working this way builds up flexibility in your process, helping yourself when changes eventually need to be made. I have yet to meet a client who doesn’t appreciate this approach too.

Prepare before you link a rigged character.

In this case, we want to link a fully rigged character. In order to achieve this. We need to do some housekeeping first.

An organized Blend file lends best for a proper link of your character. You need to pack everything in a needly wrapped package.

This package is usually the character collection, all character meshes will be in this collection.

Then you could make a collection of your rig and drag that collection into the character collection. You can leave the meta rig, if you have that, out of this collection.
You don’t want to link that over to the new scene.

On top of this, you could grab all your mesh cages or other rig support attributes and make a collection out of them. Place this collection in the character collection as well.

You can leave the widgets out because they will only clutter the interface. Who doesn’t like a clean workspace to start your animation in, right?

How to link a rigged character?

When you link an object, it will be placed in the scene at the point of the 3D cursor. The whole collection will import in one piece and is easy to reposition with either the 3d cursor or using the translation tools.

Now to actually link an object into your scene.

You should go up here to the file browser and choose ‘link’ in the dropdown menu here.

How to link in Blender

Navigate to your desired Blend file. Open up that Blend file by double clicking or entering.

And then you see you have several options there. In this instance, we go for a collection. This is why we did our preparations. Now we can select a character collection
with everything in it that we need.

Quick tip safe before you check if the link is working, especially if you have done some changes to your scene and you haven’t saved it yet. You don’t want to lose any valuable progress, right!?

From the source file, you can make a quick change in any attribute, I chose to change the Hue and Saturation node here for the helmet.

So now it’s a green color.

We can save this Blend file. Go over to the other one. A quick way to check if your file updates is to press “Ctrl + Shift + O” to prompt open recent blend files.

Select the filename you’re working in and the link should be updated.

Library override

You can rotate the character, you can move the character, the only caveat is you move it also one solid block.

You might have noticed you cannot go into pose mode to select individual controls.

So, that’s why you need to create a library override.

Library overrides are a system designed to replace and supersede proxies. Proxies were used in older Blender versions, however, since the rise of asset libraries and everything that ties into that, proxies had to change as well.

How do you actually perform an override in Blender?

Go to 3D viewport the header. From the header section right here where it says object.
Scroll down to relations and then make library overwrite.

The individual controls should now be selectable and separate meshes are clickable too.

In the outliner, you can find all objects according to the usual hierarchy. You are able to hide and unhide individual objects now too.

Most types of linked data blocks can be overridden and the properties of those overrides
can be edited.

When you change the library data so for example, you pose your character, you can still update materials, for example, and they will update right into other Blend files.

As said, animators are using this for animation. That’s not all though.

You see, you could link multiple instances of the same character in a scene and apply different animations to those. Think, for example, about crowd animations to fill a busy city shot.

If you’re clever with it, you could set it up so that crowds don’t look so uniform. Maybe you want those instances of the same character with variations in material, size, or whatnot.

This is a wonderful workflow, but with everything in our job, it never is one-size-fits-all.
Sometimes you might want to just use a simple import. Weigh the benefits and the disadvantages carefully per project.

A good rule of thumb is that the more different shots you use a character/asset for, the likelier it is you’ll want to use this workflow.

Not all glory

An important thing to mention is this is still undergoing development. A major drawback for animators is the shape keys aspect of it.

As of speaking, shape keys, must be animated from the source file, since the library override doesn’t let you create new ones for the model, or alter the existing ones.

Going back to the source blend file is possible, but also defeats the purpose of linking a bit.

First of all, you are now animating in two separate files and have to keep saving and updating to see the effect of your shape keys.

But that’s not the worst of it though!

You see when you animate a character across multiple scenes, you quickly run into problems. Now a fix you down with shape keys here creates an absurd distortion in another blend file.

On top of that, when you still choose to go this route, you’ll have to commit to your shape keys for a particular shot, render and delete them. What if you get feedback on your shot and need to redo all the work you’ve done with shape keys? That’s bad.

Or you stack countless shape keys on top of each other and pray you do remember what scene and what fix this is for.

However, don’t let this negative note be a reason not to try this. Hee, it might even get fixed over time.

I hope you enjoy this brief overview of how to link a rigged character and library override attributes to start finally animating it.

What will you be animating first, let us know.

I always encourage you to stay creative,

For now, ’till next time. Ciao!