Shapes Instances

Every shape in Boxshot scene is independent and has its own set of parameters and materials. You can copy and paste shapes, create multiple copies with Step and Repeat and other tools, but each copy will still be a separate one. If you want to make changes to the shape’s materials you will need to copy its materials to other shapes, so they get updated too.

Since version 5.4 Boxshot offers lightweight objects called “instances” that don’t have their own properties or materials and uses the original ones instead. This tutorial explains instances and their management in details.

Creating And Testing Instances

Let’s start with a new scene and a simple book shape:

A hard cover book shape in a new Boxshot scene

Now right–click that shape and select Tools → Create Instance from the popup menu. You will see another book added to the scene:

Hard cover book instance added to the scene

Notice the “chain” mark at the right side of the scene tree items — this means the shapes are instances.

Important: All the instances of the shape are equal including the shape itself. Boxshot doesn’t display the original shape somewhat different and changing any feature of any instance changes all the instances the same way.

Now let’s test the instances and change something in one of the shapes. Here I changed the preset of the book from “Closed” to “Open a bit”:

Changing one shape changes all its instances

Note that the other book has also changed. Boxshot applies all the changes you make to any of the instances to all the others. This includes all the properties and materials except for visibility, name and transformations (translation, rotation and scale). This way you can have multiple copies of your shape around the scene.

You can create as many instances as you need using the right–click context menu. You can create instances of instances which effectively creates yet another instance of the same shape.

Converting Instances Back

Instance can be converted back to a normal shape using the context menu. Right click the instance and select Tools → Detach Instance from the popup menu. Boxshot will convert the selected instance back to the normal shape. Let’s give it a try, here is the scene of three instances of a book shape:

Three book instances in Boxshot scene

Let’s click the left one and detach it using the Detach Instance command mentioned above:

One book is not an instance anymore

Now we can change one of the books and see what happens:

Only instances are updated, but not the detached shape

As we changed one of the instances, you can see that the other instance is also updated, but not the shape we detached. Detaching is useful when you create multiple copies using step and repeat or other tools and then want to customize one of the copies a bit. You create all the copies as instances, then detach one and customize it as needed.

Advanced Instances Options

Boxshot does not support instances of groups or nested objects. When you click Create Instance on a group object Boxshot creates a group of instances, not an instance of the group. All the shapes in that group are instances and follow their original objects, but the group hierarchy is independent from the original group and can be changed separately.

There are tools in Boxshot that create multiple copies of objects: Step and Repeat, Circular Step and Repeat and Stack. All these tools offer creating instances instead of copies by default. Instances are much faster especially for complex and heavy objects and using them might significantly speed up scene loading, processing and rendering.

If you apply step and repeat tool to a nested object, Boxshot will not offer you instances as they are not supported.

Copying instance using Edit → Cut/Copy/Paste options converts instances back to the normal shapes.

Finally, you can select all the instances of the selected object by right–clicking it and selecting Tools → Select All Instances.

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