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Item List

The Item List has a number of functions: it lists all of the locator-type items within your project, as well as allowing you to create, edit, and organize various item layers (meshes, locators, cameras, for example). The functionality of the Item List includes selection, creation, deletion, and re-ordering of items and entire scene files, creating parent and child hierarchies, setting visibility, editing item properties, and creating basic groups for general organization.

Item List Modes

The Item List has three UI views, depending on the size of the viewport: small, medium, and full. When the Item List is fully expanded, it shows all items and acts as a complete project manager. When the viewport gets collapsed, it converts to a Mesh List, allowing a very compact UI for quickly selecting the various meshes in your project. The Mesh List mode has two sizes - small and medium - depending on the amount of screen space available to the viewport. This allows you to compress the list into a very small space on the monitor, if necessary.

To resize the viewport, click and drag any frame edge. The viewport automatically changes UI style, depending on the amount of space available.

The small view shows the current project pop-up. This pop-up allows you to select any of the currently-loaded scenes. Directly to the right is the left/right navigational widget, which is used to move forward and backward through large lists of mesh layers. Further to the right again are small cells that represent the mesh layers within a scene file. The top row, A, is for active Mesh Items, also called foreground objects. The bottom row, B, is for inactive (but visible) Mesh Items, also called background objects. Ghosted dots in the top row indicate the Mesh Item contains geometry, while white dots indicate that a Mesh Item exists but contains no geometry (an empty layer).

Shader Tree Small

The medium view functions exactly as the small view does, with the only significant difference being the layout of options. In this configuration, the file pop-up button is found at the top of the viewport and the layer cells are found just beneath it. In this case, there are three rows displaying the layer number, the foreground, and the background (moving from the top row down). Beneath the cells is the layer navigation slider bar, which allows you to drag to the right or left to navigate to layers that do not fit in the mesh list in this configuration.

Shader Tree Medium

The full view can also be called the "tree view", as the layers are displayed in a tree structure from top to bottom. It's called a tree because in this view you can also see the hierarchy of the layers, if any has been set. In most cases, the mesh layers are in a flat hierarchy, indicating that there is no parent-child relationship between any of the layers. However, if a layer has been parented to another, that child appears beneath and is slightly indented to the right of the parent. The parent layer then has an expand/contract widget to the left so that you can easily collapse entire hierarchies quickly.

Shader Tree Full

To set a layer to be parented by another layer:

1.   Drag and drop the intended child on top of the intended parent layer.

The child layer appears beneath the parent and is slightly indented to the right.

2.   If you want to move the child layer back to the same level as the parent, drag and drop the child layer back into the list between two layers.

Be careful to ensure you don't drop it on top of another layer by mistake, or it is moved to be the child layer of a different parent.

Items in the list can only be modified when selected. Though, multiple items may be edited at once. Non-sequential selection can be created by holding down Ctrl and clicking multiple layers. Sequential items can be selected by first clicking on the top-most item and then Shift+clicking the bottom-most item. All items between the two are selected.

When selecting layers in this view, you may notice there are some combinations of font styles and colors that indicate various layer states. Selected layer row(s) appear darker than non-selected row(s), and the layer name text becomes orange. Selected layers are considered foreground layers. Item layers that are visible, but not selected, are considered background layers. Background layer name text appears as plain black text. Mesh Items that have been created, but contain no data, have light gray layer name text.

At the top of the list is the scene item (Scene Item), representing the scene file itself in bold text. Below it are the various item layers that make up the scene: Mesh Items, lights, cameras, and so on. Visibility of the various layers is controlled in the left-most column. Clicking on the eye icon (Eye) toggles visibility of items in the 3D Viewport, as well as when rendered, unless specified otherwise by the Display Viewport or the item's properties panel.

The next column displays icons signifying the current editing mode of a selected layer or layers. This is important because the current mode affects the layer(s) differently. The Item Mode Icon icon denotes an item's mode transformations. The Componenet Mode Icon icon denotes Mesh Items that can be edited directly as components, such as vertices, edges or polygons. Component versus item transforms are an important concept to understand in Modo. If you think of Mesh Items as containers, item mode transforms are applied to the entire container, while component transforms modify the contents of the container only. Nearly any item can have an item-level transform applied, be it position, scale, or rotation. Only Mesh Items can be edited in component mode, using any of the tools Modo provides. Locators, cameras, lights, and backdrop items can only be edited in item mode.

Set Reference System

When clicking on the third column, an item is toggled between world space and local space. The Locaotr Icon icon displays next to an item layer when in local mode. When in local mode, an item's center point temporarily becomes the origin. This can make certain modeling tasks easier.

For instance, if you modeled a car's tire by radially sweeping around the origin and then re-positioned the tire at the axle of the car in item mode, if you needed to further modify the tire, you could place the item into the local space and re-sweep the tire around the origin. When you're finished, you can return to world space without ever needing to move a single item. This action may also be accomplished by invoking the menu bar command Item > Set Reference System.

Auto Visibility

There are two very different workflows between modeling and layout/rendering processes. When modeling, you may find that you want to focus on a single Mesh Item (often referred to as a layer) but the layout process demands a complete view of the project. Modo offers a solution using Auto Visibility. By default, this option is off. The Auto Visibility mode automatically turn visibility on for the currently-selected item and hides all de-selected items. In this way, you can easily set the focus to a specific Mesh Item (similar to a "solo" layer control). Once the item is visibly isolated, you can use the Shift or Ctrl keys to add to the selection. If you want to have one layer active but another layer visible and inactive, you can Ctrl+click on that item's visibility column to override the Auto Visibility setting at that time. To access the Auto Visibility option you can either right-click on the viewport tab or you can use the Viewport Widget and navigate to the Viewport Settings.

Creating Parent/Child Hierarchies with the Item List

Parent/child relationships amongst items have several benefits. If you have experience with animation, you are likely familiar with the power of these types of hierarchies. Since setting them up in Modo is so simple, this is often the first step at rigging your project for animation. Even if you have no intention of animating your scene, there are other advantages to creating these hierarchies. The two main advantages are gang-manipulations and organization.

Creating hierarchies in Modo is a simple drag-and-drop operation. In the Item List, drag-and-drop one item onto another. That item becomes the child item. The default behavior for parenting in the Item List is to parent in place when you drag-and-drop items. The control key is used to parent without maintaining current transforms of the child items. This is the same in the 3D views where the shortcut P parents in place. Ctrl+P performs normal parenting. Shift+P un-parents in place, while Ctrl+Shift+P un-parents. Additional information on parent/child relationships is available under Hierarchy.

Managing Items in the Item List

As your projects become more complex, you may find a long flat list of items becomes unwieldy. Parenting items to a Group Locator Item helps organize a project. Different from a Groups Viewport, group locators are a special kind of locator item, as they do not draw anything in the 3D views (removing additional scene clutter) and can be easily-collapsed, which keeps the Item List clean and manageable. Group locators have an icon that looks like a folder in the Item List to distinguish them from regular locator items. In all other aspects they act the same as a normal locator; for example, they can be moved and rotated in the 3D views.

To create a group locator, you can choose Add Item > Group Locator from the button atop the Item List viewport. Once created, you can select some items and begin to drag-and-drop them into a hierarchy to organize the list. If you have several items that you want to quickly parent to a group locator, you can select them all by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking on individual items in the list. Once selected, press Ctrl+G to automatically create a new group locator with all selected items parented in one step.

Manipulating Items in a Hierarchy

It's important to note that there are some ramifications to editing item layers in Items mode when a hierarchy is established.

NOTE:  The following information is only relevant when the selection mode is set to Items.

For instance, when translating (moving) only the parent-item, the children receive the same amount of translation, while remaining in the same relative position to the parent-item as it moves. However, when selecting the parent- and child-items, the effect of the transform is doubled on the child; it inherits the parent's transform and, since it is also selected, it is moved as well.

If there are item-level transforms applied to the parent-item before the relationship is defined, the child moves to match the parent's transforms. This is called Parent in Place. The transform amount of the child is adjusted, so the item remains in the same relative position to its parent - it's moving but it won't look like it's moving. If this behavior is undesirable, the solution is to maintain the child's current position during parenting, or un-parenting the item. This retains the child item's transform values, such that the item does not move from its original, local positioning, but moves in world space, as it has inherited its parent's transformation values.

TIP:  Often, when you have created hierarchies, it may be arduous to expand the various parent items to dig down to the level where you can see the item you are looking for. If you change to the Items selection mode and click on the item in 3D view (where it is most-likely visible in plain sight), you can press the F key to find the item in the Item List. The list auto-expands any necessary group locators or parents to reveal your item. You can also quickly expand/contract an entire hierarchy branch with a single action. Holding Shift when clicking to expand or contract a hierarchy, expands/contracts the current item, as well as all items down the branch.

Item List Filters

You can filter the Item List to display certain types of items, and order the items. Click Filter Items to open the Item List Filters window.

The window contains a series of buttons for ordering and selecting items, plus a list of item types.

You can uncheck an item type to hide all items of that type in the Item List.

The following ordering buttons are available:

Flatten: Display the items in a flat list instead of showing nested relationships in a tree. The images below show an example.

A normal list with a hierarchical tree of nested meshes. A flattened list with each mesh at the base level of the list. The hierarchy is indicated by dots in front of the item name with one dot for each level of nesting.

Sort by Name: Sort the list of items alphabetically.

Sort by Type: Sort and group the items by their type.

The following buttons change the selection:

All: Select all item types.

None: Deselect all item types.

Invert: Reverse the selection.

The Item Context Menu

There are several options available using the Item List context menu. Simply right-click on any item to open the menu. Some of the context menus include:

Rename - allows you to rename the selected item using a pop-up dialog.

Editor Color - provides you with the means to colorize item layers to help visually call out a layer, mostly for organizational purposes.

Properties - the Properties command opens a pop-over viewport panel with the currently-selected items available attributes.

Export Selected Layers - the Export Selected Layers command allows you to save out individual layers from a scene to a file on disc. You need to first select the target files in the Item List to export then right-click any of the selected item layers to open the context menu. Select the command Export Selected Layers, opening the Export Selected dialog.

Export Selected

The dialog offers some options for how the selected layers are exported.

Format - you can determine the save format of the exported items from the available options.

Export All Layers - when enabled, all layers are exported regardless of selection; when disabled, only the selected layers are exported.

Separate Files - when enabled, separate layers are saved as individual files; when disabled, all layers are saved as if they were a single, combined layer.

Just Layers - when enabled, only Mesh Item layers are saved, ignoring cameras, lights, locators, and other non-Mesh Items. When disabled, all selected layers are exported. What can be exported is highly dependent on the chosen target format.

Save Assembly - the Save Assembly command allows you to save entire hierarchies of items of various types out to the preset file format (.lxp). The resulting preset can be later loaded from the Preset Browser, retaining all the settings of the original hierarchy. This command should always be applied to the top-most parent of the hierarchy.

Change Type - with this option you can quickly convert an item into another item type. For instance, you can convert an instance mesh into a real mesh so that you can edit the item at the component level. Another example is to convert a directional light into an area light. Not all items can be converted to all other types of items.

NOTE:  Certain parameters may be lost if you switch back to the original item type, though common parameters should be preserved.

Presets - this option allows you to load, apply, and delete preset parameters to your objects.

Add Deformer - this option allows you to add any of Modo's various deformers, covered in Applying Deformers.

Convert to Proxy - proxies are a function that externalizes one or more layers of the Item List and replaces them with a simple bounding box. The resulting bounding box is only replaced by the full-resolution proxy at render time. For more in-depth coverage for proxies, refer to Render Proxy.

Restore from Proxy - any item that has been converted to an external proxy can be loaded back into the originating scene with the Restore from Proxy command.

Parent/Parent In Place - this allows you to easily create a parent-child hierarchy of several items. To invoke, select multiple items within the Item List, right-click on any of them, and select Parent from the menu. The top-most item in the Item List becomes the parent, while all the subsequent items become children. The Parent in Place command retains an item's initial position prior to parenting.

Parent to Group Locator - this creates a group locator item and parents all currently-selected items to it. The same can also be achieved by pressing Ctrl+G.

Unparent/Unparent In Place - an easy way to remove parent/child relationships of items within any hierarchy. The Unparent In Place command retains the item's position when unparented, relative to its parent.

Select Item Hierarchy - selects the entire hierarchy down the chain from the current item.

Pick Walk - pick walking is used to make it easier to navigate complex hierarchies, as it allows you to easily create selection relationships up and down a hierarchy chain. These can be defined in the Assembly Viewport.

Clear Selection Redirect - selection redirects are useful to aid in selecting specific items in a 3D Viewport. As an item, such as a locator, is selected in a 3D Viewport, that selection can be redirected to another object that would be difficult to individually select otherwise. The Clear Selection Redirect command is an easy way to remove a selection redirect.

Apply to Setup - when working with animation or deformers, the initial state of any item is defined while in Setup mode. This represents the zero position state, and everything else is an offset from the Setup value. The Apply to Setup command takes the item's current values and pushes them to Setup.

Restore to Setup - the Restore to Setup option removes any modification to the item and restores the values to those of the initial Setup state.

Restore Transforms to Setup - the Restore Transforms to Setup option restores only the transform values (move, scale, rotate) to the Setup state.

Duplicate - this command creates a duplicate of the current item(s).

Duplicate Hierarchy - this command creates a duplicate of the current parent item and all child items, while retaining the overall relationships of the hierarchy.

Instance - the instance command is only relevant for Mesh Items. The result is a duplicate of the current mesh that is simply a reference to the original mesh. Instances can be transformed at the item level and can have their own materials and textures applied to them using item-level masks. However, they can not be edited at the mesh-level, as they derive all mesh information from the original Mesh Item. The advantage is that all mesh changes made to the original Mesh Item propagate to its instances.

Instance Hierarchy - the Instance Hierarchy command creates instanced versions of a parent item and all child items, while retaining the overall relationships of the hierarchy.

Duplicate - this command opens a pop-up dialog with a few options allowing you to choose which items to include or exclude from the duplication process.

Merge\Unmerge Meshes - the Merge and Unmerge options work on separate clusters of polygons only while in Items mode. The Merge command takes all the geometry from multiple layers and combines it into a single Mesh Item layer. No vertices are merged and meshes remain separate. The Unmerge command takes all the separate mesh groups within a single layer and makes as many individual layers as necessary. Unmerged mesh layers still share a single Center location, which can be remedied with the menu bar command Edit > Center to Bounding Box > Center.

Select Source of Instance - when working with instanced items, the Select Source of Instance command provides you with an easy way to select the source Mesh Item layer of any instance.

Select Instances - the Select Instances command allows you to easily select all related instances from a single source item.

Select Input/Output Items - when connecting items together, such as for animation rigging, Select Input or Output Items option allows you to automatically select the upstream or downstream items in the flow of the connection layout, as defined in the Schematic viewport.

Delete - this deletes the currently-selected item's layer.

Lock/Unlock - you can use these commands to quickly and easily lock and unlock items from accidental manipulation, eliminating the need to do so manually through the Assembly viewport. Once an item is locked, a small padlock icon (locked) appears next to the layer name. Once an item is locked, no item-level transformation modifications may be made. To make a change, you much first unlock the item. Note that this function won't affect or limit component-level transformations. A similar function is also available to lock geometry components covered in the 3D (OpenGL) Viewport section.

Draw Style - allows you to set a specific draw style for an item, regardless of the 3D Viewport's display setting. This is useful for when you want to "fix" the way items within a scene are drawn in the viewport, essentially mixing view styles within one window. For example, you might have a wireframe mixed with shaded, mixed with weight shade.

Wireframe Color - allows you to change the default display color of an unselected item when displayed as a wireframe. Useful for differentiating multiple items in a complex scene.

Fill Color - allows you to change the display color of an object in any GL viewport, independent of its surface attributes.

Create Item Mask - this option creates a mask group in the Shader Tree with the current item as the filter. This allows you to quickly add a material/texture mask at the Mesh Item-level so that you can isolate material changes to that specific item. This is especially useful for applying surface attributes to an instanced object. If your original item is red, for instance, you could change the color of an instance of the item to blue by using an item mask, while adding no additional real geometry to the scene.

Create Item Shader - item shaders provide per-item overrides of any shading applied within the Shader Tree. The Create Item Shader option creates a special kind of Item List Shader item that is not present in the Shader Tree. When selected, the attributes of the shader item appear in the Properties viewport. You can select any of the Control... options. When enabled, Modo then uses the settings of the item shader for the associated item, superseding the evaluation of the Shader Tree for the selected options. This makes it very easy, for instance, to make a single item invisible to the camera. To do this, select Create Item Shader, then select the Control Visibility option, and then disable the Visible to Camera option.

Scatter Replicas - the Scatter Replicas command only applies to Replicators and acts as an easy way to apply a surface generator to an item, allowing finer control over duplicated variations through the Shader Tree.

Calculate Mesh Volume - this command reports the volume of the associated mesh in several way, displaying in a pop-up dialog

Calculate Center of Mass - this command generates a parented locator item to the mesh that represents its Center of Mass, a point that represents its median location for the mass distribution of the associated mesh. The item's center can be positioned here for dynamics purposes using the Match commands found in the Setup layout.

Project Item Context Menu

Right-clicking the file name itself in the Item List opens the file context menu. This is where you perform routine tasks, such as:

Save - saves the scene loaded in memory to disc, overwriting the previously-saved file.

Save As - saves the scene currently loaded in memory to a specified name and location.

Export As - exports the entire scene to a variety of different formats.

Close Scene - removes the scene and all related files, like images, MDD, and IES light files from memory. When the scene is closed, Modo defaults to a blank new scene, if no other scenes are loaded.

Item List Versus Shader Tree

You may have already noticed that some Modo items appear in both the Item List and the Shader Tree. The Item List is generally used to select locator-type items. Locator-type items are items that can be selected and edited directly in the 3D Viewport, that is to say that they have a location. There are items that are not locator-types. For instance, materials, shaders, and texture layers are also items but are not directly editable in the 3D Viewport.

These items are accessed from the Shader Tree rather than the Item List. There are some crossover items that appear in both the Item List and the Shader Tree. This is because they may share common, linked items such as a texture layer and its associated locator item (texture positions are set by Texture Locators, which can be manipulated in 3D), or items that can be modified by textures (lights have a material and can be textured within the Shader Tree).