Version: 2018.2 (switch to 2018.3b or 2017.4)
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Gameplay in 2D

While famous for its 3D capabilities, Unity can also be used to create 2D games. The familiar functions of the editor are still available but with helpful additions to simplify 2D development.

Scene viewed in 2D mode
Scene viewed in 2D mode

The most immediately noticeable feature is the 2D view mode button in the toolbarA row of buttons and basic controls at the top of the Unity Editor that allows you to interact with the Editor in various ways (e.g. scaling, translation). More info
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of the Scene viewAn interactive view into the world you are creating. You use the Scene View to select and position scenery, characters, cameras, lights, and all other types of Game Object. More info
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. When 2D mode is enabled, an orthographic (ie, perspective-free) view will be set; the cameraA component which creates an image of a particular viewpoint in your scene. The output is either drawn to the screen or captured as a texture. More info
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looks along the Z axis with the Y axis increasing upwards. This allows you to visualise the sceneA Scene contains the environments and menus of your game. Think of each unique Scene file as a unique level. In each Scene, you place your environments, obstacles, and decorations, essentially designing and building your game in pieces. More info
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and place 2D objects easily.

For a full list of 2D componentsA functional part of a GameObject. A GameObject can contain any number of components. Unity has many built-in components, and you can create your own by writing scripts that inherit from MonoBehaviour. More info
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, how to switch between 2D and 3D mode, and the different 2D and 3D Mode settings, see 2D or 3D Projects.

2D graphics

Graphic objects in 2D are known as SpritesA 2D graphic objects. If you are used to working in 3D, Sprites are essentially just standard textures but there are special techniques for combining and managing sprite textures for efficiency and convenience during development. More info
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. Sprites are essentially just standard textures but there are special techniques for combining and managing sprite textures for efficiency and convenience during development. Unity provides a built-in Sprite Editor to let you extract sprite graphics from a larger image. This allows you to edit a number of component images within a single texture in your image editor. You could use this, for example, to keep the arms, legs and body of a character as separate elements within one image.

Sprites are rendered with a Sprite RendererA component that lets you display images as Sprites for use in both 2D and 3D scenes. More info
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component rather than the Mesh RendererA mesh component that takes the geometry from the Mesh Filter and renders it at the position defined by the object’s Transform component. More info
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used with 3D objects. You can add this to a GameObject via the Components menu (Component > Rendering > Sprite Renderer or alternatively, you can just create a GameObject directly with a Sprite Renderer already attached (menu: GameObject > 2D Object > Sprite).

In addition, you can use a Sprite Creator tool to make placeholder 2D images.

2D physics

Unity has a separate physics engineA system that simulates aspects of physical systems so that objects can accelerate correctly and be affected by collisions, gravity and other forces. More info
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for handling 2D physics so as to make use of optimizations only available with 2D. The components correspond to the standard 3D physics components such as RigidbodyA component that allows a GameObject to be affected by simulated gravity and other forces. More info
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, Box ColliderA cube-shaped collider component that handles collisions for GameObjects like dice and ice cubes. More info
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and Hinge JointA joint that groups together two Rigidbodies, constraining them to move like they are connected by a hinge. It is perfect for doors, but can also be used to model chains, pendulums and so on. More info
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, but with “2D” appended to the name. So, sprites can be equipped with Rigidbody 2D, Box Collider 2D and Hinge Joint 2D. Most 2D physics components are simply “flattened” versions of the 3D equivalents (eg, Box Collider 2D is a square while Box Collider is a cube) but there are a few exceptions.

For a full list of 2D physics components, see 2D or 3D Projects. See the Physics section of the manual for further information about 2D physics concepts and components. To specify 2D physics settings, see Physics 2D Settings.


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2D
Sprites