Unity Animate Sprite Rig With Bones

Unity tutorials for beginners – Animate Rig Sprite sheet with bones

Unity animate sprite

There are several ways in unity to animate your sprite sheet. Two of the most common are sprite sheets and bone rig animations. I have been using sprite sheets for many years, and they will always hold a dear place in my heart. Just like all things in life, I am forced to grow and try new things. That being said, I have recently tried the new Unity 2D bone rig animation system. At first, I was skeptical. I was thinking, “Is this just another push by unity to drive me into a point and click game dev system? Well thank goodness It was not! After a few failed attempts and lots of effort, I have come to love the new bone rig 2D animation system.

Sprite Animation old vs new

I tend to be a stick in the mud, when I think about all the years I have been programming, and the way animation has evolved. It is no wonder I, like lots of other people, like to stick to what I already know and trust. I find myself reluctant to jump out and try the next new thing. The old adage, don’t fix it if it isn’t broken, comes to mind here. So with the old way of adding life to your 2D games, well the characters and some terrain items at least, was with sprite sheets.

Unity animate sprite
Example of a smaller sprite sheet where every sheet has a different action.

The example above is what the old method of animation boils down to. You would have either a very large transparent image with sprites in every pose as below, or several smaller sheets like above.

Unity animate sprite
Example of a larger sprite sheet with every pose one one sheet.

The old way of animation no matter how well tested and proven, is limiting. Now before you get triggered and start breathing fire, lets put that statement into context. I am a programmer and not an artist. If you are an artist, and you make your own sprite sheets, then there are no limitations to the old system at all. Now, if you are a programmer, and art is hard for you, then the limitations come in the form of the available poses provided to you by the artist.

The New system

That brings me to the new system, I can not lie, the new system is not without a learning curve. Failure did occur many times, however, every failure is one step closer to a success. I did finally discover that if I need a new crawl animation, or I need a new jump animation, even a new death animation. Well you get it, the sky is the limit for the non artist with the new system. I will not go into detail here how to use the new system, as I have shown that in the video above already.

Love in the form of simplicity

I really enjoy how the new system works. The complicated task of animation is now controlled by a few simple parts. These parts are commonly the body parts of your character. You could just as easily use blades of grass, or branches in a tree. After the bones are added, then rigged up to a become whole unit, the fun begins. You can now pose and animate your sprite any way you want or need. This actually greatly reduces the work load of your artist while allowing you the freedom to make your own animations just the way you like them.

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