This post was originally published on CG Cookie.
If you are disorganized (as is 99.8% of humanity), your .blend projects may be getting out of hand. Now is the time to get inspired by Marie Kondo and use her famous tidying method!
Here are a few tips by the CG Cookie crew based on #konmari tricks to ensure your folders stay neat, organized and spark joy for years to come.
If Marie Kondo Was a Digital Artist...
The divine Konmari has her disciples handle each item they own, determine whether it sparks joy, then keep or toss it.
So let’s go through your 8,000+ .blend files one by one!
If you just recoiled in horror at the very thought, relax. There’s a more efficient way.
Declutter Your Blender Mess Efficiently
First things first: where are you currently saving your .blend files? Unless you’ve specified it before, they would all go into a default location.
Find all these files, disorganized as they probably are. (Who are we kidding: they are grotesquely chaotic.) Shove them into a folder titled “01-25-2019_backup”. Everything that is not already organized needs to go in there.
Take a deep breath: you are starting with a clean slate. Already you can feel the joy flowing!
Next, set up a new folder in your Documents called “Blender Projects”. Every time you create a new Blender file, place it in there (more about organizing it in the next step). Every time you open an old Blender file from the backup, move it to the new “Blender Projects” folder as well.
This ensures that you are organized going forward and saves you the absolutely daunting task of going through all your old files because...ain’t nobody got time for that.
If Space is an Issue...
The only reason to tackle the backup file is if you need to free up space. First, clean out renders that you won’t need, or that you could render again if needed. Same with the WIP versions of the old project files: if you used “WIP” in your previous naming convention, you can find all of these files and bulk-delete them. You can also safely delete any old autosaved .blend1 or .blend2 files, which can take up a lot of space.
A Place for Every File, Every File in Its Place
Next, create a folder within “Blender Project” for each - you guessed it - Blender project.
If the project includes multiple files (images, textures, etc.) you should create subfolders for each type of file. For example, a character file should have its own folder and all the textures or other data like python scripts should have their own subfolder.
Make sure to name the objects and data inside your file, too! No more leaving the data name as Cube.017. How are you going to find what you need to append to a new file?
Create subfolders for Scenes, Textures, Objects (for exported .obj’s) and References. (This last one is a biggie: because you absolutely need to use reference images!)
If you end up having projects that can be grouped together, for example projects for the same client or a school course, place all of them in one folder as well.
Bonus: repeat steps 3-6 with other types of files, from music to tax filings, whenever you search for them in your Backup folder.
Name Your .blend Files with Love
Now that you have a new organization system, you need to use a naming convention for everything and stick to it (it’s OK if it evolves over time).
Keep Nothing on your Desktop
Desktop = black hole drawer.
This is the abysmal place that anything goes in never to be found again. It's gradually getting fuller and fuller until it creates a porthole into another dimension. There are no survivors.
So here’s a rule: use your desktop only as a temporary storing area. Don’t save anything there unless you intend to move or delete within the next hour. Desktop shouldn’t have any files on it - and the same goes for your “Downloads” folder.
Your Inspiration Folder Needs Love, Too
Your inspiration folder will hold the stuff you find that sparks joy!
Find stuff that is inspiring, add it to your inspiration folder.
Life hack: set a calendar reminder to look at your inspiration folder every month so you don’t forget you have it.
Get Rid of All Unused Blender Data Fast
Blender loves to leave tons of unnecessary data in your project files. It’s plagued with materials, node groups, and images that simply won’t disappear.
Solution: nuke ‘em from orbit!
ATOM BOMB ($5 on Blender Market) is an add-on made to delete this unused data - and you won’t even have to restart Blender.
The satisfaction you’ll get from seeing loads of clutter disappear is how Marie Kondo feels when her clients go through their cable drawer.
Take Data Management to The Next Level with Batch Operations 2
Batch Ops add-on is a highly sophisticated data manager.
It can outline/arrange/control all your modifiers, materials, collections (and other data) in the currently open file, scene, visible objects. Select, Add, Remove, apply multiple operations on the selected modifiers, materials and collections or filter, search with custom user settings. You can easily manage everything on the fly and keep a complete overview of your project!
The add-on is $16 on Blender Market and a great investment if you often work with large scenes where you need to clean, purge, merge and in other ways reorganize messy project data at once.
Did this spark joy? What other tips do you use to keep your Blender files organized?