Reference/Release Notes/Blender Asset Bundle

Work In Progress
This page is a Work In Progress, and its contents are subject to change as the Blender Assets project is further developed.


Blender Asset Bundle info


✍ Authors: Julian Eisel, Metin Seven

📅 Updated: April 21, 2021


Introduction

The Blender Asset Bundle is meant to be a basic set of building blocks to get started, not a full blown asset library with thousands of large textures and heavy models.

Assets can exist of various data types, ranging from materials to objects, and should be marked for use with the Blender Asset Manager, including tags and a description.

The Blender Cloud will continue to serve as a full asset bank, and users can create and save their own assets as well.

Target audience

The primary target audience for bundled assets are beginning and occasional Blender users. The Asset Bundle is a great way to help them get started with content creation.

However, a good set of default assets can be helpful for more expert level users as well, e.g. for quick scene mock-ups.

Project organization


Metin Seven coordinates the Asset Bundle and contributes to it.

Metin will approach a selection of other Blender artists for Asset Bundle submissions (see next section), but for now there will be no public call for content, because such calls typically cause much overhead and can lead to too much variation in quality.

Other design questions (e.g. how to bundle and install them) are the responsibility of the Asset Browser module.

See the sections below for submission guidelines and distribution suggestions.

Potential asset contributors

Potential Blender Asset Bundle contributors can be suggested to Metin Seven, or added to the list below if you've got Blender Wiki access.

Asset guidelines

  • Accessible
Bundled assets are an opportunity to help users learn. Users should be able to “look into the box”, pick apart assets and open node groups to learn about how they can create and manage such assets themselves.
Make sure assets are usable by novice users. For example, if materials or Geometry Nodes objects exist of complex node structures, please group nodes and give the inputs / outputs clear names.
  • Well-organized
All assets should make good use of tags, descriptions and mention the license.
E.g. materials could have a tag with the supported render engine name, so users can filter by Eevee or Cycles materials.
  • Encapsulated
Dragging in an asset should not change scene settings, or add many data-blocks to the scene. E.g. dragging in a studio light setup shouldn’t adjust the render settings. So better make it a collection, not a scene.
  • CC-0 license
We will only accept CC-0 licensed assets. These assets will be modified by users and used for real work. Therefore, we cannot expect users to credit the asset creators for these things.
  • Lightweight
Not only should the bundle be free of charge and free to use under a CC-0 license; it should also not bother users if they do not use the bundle. E.g. the Blender download size shouldn’t include hundreds of megabytes just for assets.
In order to keep the Asset Bundle lightweight, built-in assets will have to make use of small, lightweight textures, and meshes will have to be light.
  • Compatible
Users will probably want to access the bundled asset library from multiple Blender releases.
They need to be stored in a centralized location, with access from multiple releases. The asset browser design already allows mounting centralized asset libraries via the Preferences.
The assets should be compatible with coming Blender releases. Ideally also with older Blender releases (at least starting with 2.80).
Additional compatibility checks could be added, so assets can only be added to versions supporting the used feature(s).
Ideally assets would be render engine agnostic. Of course an Eevee specific material can be Eevee only, but in general materials should also work with Cycles, ideally also with other render engines.
  • Offline
The Asset Bundle should be usable from Blender without internet connection.

How to provide the bundle?

The Asset Bundle is a directory of Blend files. Below are options how we could provide it:

  • Bundle with Blender
Include asset .blend files as part of the Blender download, like fonts or scripts. These could also be compiled into the binary.
At some point (e.g. a background job after Blender startup) Blender ensures the bundle is in a centralized location (e.g. ~/.config/blender/assets).
❗ Possible issues:
─ Violates zero cost paradigm.
─ Can easily bloat the Blender download size.
─ Assets may already be installed from another Blender version.
  • Generate
Keep assets parametric, so they can be created 'on the fly' (e.g. by a script). Blender can then dynamically generate the bundle in a centralized default location as above.
  • Additional download from blender.org
There could be helpers to make this easy and fast to do. E.g. a button to open the download page in a web browser and a button to install the downloaded library to a default location.
  • Online repository
We could drop the requirement to be purely offline and just give the user an option to display default assets from an online library. Technically not supported yet, but might be an attractive, modern solution we could support soon (in a sense, best of both worlds). Of course the offline requirement has its merits.
  • Combination
There could be combinations of the above. E.g. some bundled asset .blends + some parametric ones created on the fly.

How to install the bundle?

If the bundle is an additional download, how can it be installed easily within Blender? Some options:

  • Have the library as compressed archive with .blends. Let the user manage this and mount it in the Preferences.
  • Add “Install…” button to locate and install archive. It will extract the archive to a default location (e.g. ~/.config/blender/assets), similar to adding an add-on.

Should bundled assets be 'read only'?

  • We might consider discouraging edits and put the library in a hidden directory. Otherwise updates to the bundle might be problematic.
  • Versioning could become an issue too (e.g. user stores asset with beta Blender version, opens it with previous LTS).