I will often use the array tool for previewing and creating copies/instances. This allows me to quickly check the layout, before accepting the resultant spacing and look. This toolset brings with it some advantages over the standard shift-copy workflow.
In my opinion, the best way to do this is via the below tools:
1. Select the relevant scene object, and navigate to the main menu bar. From here choose the ‘Tools’ list, and then ‘Array’
2. Now amend the below settings area to suit your scene. Note how you can specify the number of copies/instances, and in which direction in space they travel: (1D/2D/3D), as well as the XYZ direction for movement, rotation and scale:
If you do not wish to use an incremental scale/rotation/movement then select the corresponding area to enable the edit columns. This workflow is not always obvious the first time you use this interface.
3. By selecting ‘Preview’ you can see the resultant effect. Note the ‘Display as Box’ option. This is great for very heavy geometry, where you loose interactivity. This option will allow you to examine the blocking and massing of the object, whilst staying efficient.
4. Once happy with the results, press the ‘OK’ button to apply the settings.
It may often seem quicker to do a quick Shift-copy, however there are some tasks that require this greater level of control. This toolset allows us for us to achieve this, as well as providing that flexibility of greater in-viewport feedback whilst making design decisions.