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Hardware Requirements for Unity's Graphics Features
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Sprite Renderer

The Sprite Renderer componentA 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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lets you display images 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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for use in both 2D and 3D scenesA 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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.

Add it 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).

Property: Function:
Sprite The Sprite object to render. Sprite objects can be generated from textures by using the Sprite setting on the Texture importer.
Color Vertex color of the rendered meshThe main graphics primitive of Unity. Meshes make up a large part of your 3D worlds. Unity supports triangulated or Quadrangulated polygon meshes. Nurbs, Nurms, Subdiv surfaces must be converted to polygons. More info
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.
Flip Flip the sprite in the X or Y planes.
MaterialAn asset that defines how a surface should be rendered, by including references to the Textures it uses, tiling information, Color tints and more. The available options for a Material depend on which Shader the Material is using. More info
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Material used to render the sprite.
Draw Mode Select an option from the Draw Mode drop-down box to define how the Sprite scales when you change its dimensions.
    Simple This is the default Sprite Renderer behavior. The image scales in all directions when its dimensions change.
    Sliced Use Sliced if you intend to apply 9-slicing to an image, and you want the sections to stretch. In Sliced mode, the corners stay the same size, the top and bottom of the Sprite stretch horizontally, the sides of the Sprite stretch vertically, and the centre of the Sprite stretches horizontally and vertically to fit the Sprite’s size. See documentation on 9-slicing Sprites for more information.
    Size Use this to change the horizontal and vertical size of the Sprite. You must use this to change the size of the Sprite if you want the 9-slicing to work; the default Transform componentA Transform component determines the Position, Rotation, and Scale of each object in the scene. Every GameObject has a Transform. More info
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only applies a default scale.
    Tiled Use Tiled if you intend to apply 9-slicing to an image, and you want the sections to repeat. In Tiled mode, the sprite stay the same size, and does not scale. Instead, the top and bottom of the Sprite repeat horizontally, the sides repeat vertically, and the centre of the Sprite repeats in a tile formation to fit the Sprite’s size. See documentation on 9-slicing Sprites for more information.
        Size Use this to change the horizontal and vertical size of the Sprite. You must use this to change the size of the Sprite if you want the 9-slicing to work; the default Transform component only applies a default scale.
    Tile Mode When the Draw Mode is set to Tiled, use the Tile Mode property to control how the sections repeat when the dimensions of the Sprite change.
        Continuous Tile Mode is set to Continuous by default. When the size of the Sprite changes, the repeating sections repeat evenly in the Sprite.
        Adaptive When Tile Mode is set to Adaptive, the repeating sections only repeat when the dimensions of the Sprite reach the Stretch Value.
    Stretch Value Use the Stretch Value slider to set the value between 0 and 1. Note that 1 represents an image resized to twice its original dimensions, so if the Stretch Value is set at 1, the section repeats when the image is stretched to twice its original size.
Sorting Layer The layerLayers in Unity can be used to selectively opt groups of GameObjects in or out of certain processes or calculations. This includes camera rendering, lighting, physics collisions, or custom calculations in your own code. More info
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used to define this sprite’s overlay priority during renderingThe process of drawing graphics to the screen (or to a render texture). By default, the main camera in Unity renders its view to the screen. More info
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.
Order In Layer The overlay priority of this sprite within its layer. Lower numbers are rendered first and subsequent numbers overlay those below.

Details

In 3D graphics, an object’s appearance will vary according to lighting and the position from which it is viewed. In 2D, by contrast, an image is simply displayed onscreen with no transformations other than basic position, scale and rotation. A sprite’s position is given by a 2D coordinate, so there is no concept of “depth” or distance from 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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when rendering.

However, it is still very important to have some way to determine the overlay priority of different sprites (ie, which sprites will obscure others when they cross paths). For example, in a driving game, a car should be seen to pass over flat objects on the road surface. Unity uses the concept of sorting layers to allow you to divide sprites into groups for overlay priority. Sprites with a sorting layer lower in the order will be overlaid by those in a higher sorting layer.

Sometimes, two or more objects in the same sorting layer can overlap (eg, two player characters in a side scrolling game). The order in layer property can be used to apply consistent priorities to sprites in the same layer. As with sorting layers, the rule is that lower numbers are rendered first and can be obscured by the higher numbers rendered later. See the layer manager page for details of editing sorting layers. If sorting layers are not used, standard depth-based sorting can be used.

Rendering

A Sprite Renderer uses the texture supplied in the Sprite property but uses the shaderA small script that contains the mathematical calculations and algorithms for calculating the Color of each pixel rendered, based on the lighting input and the Material configuration. More info
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and other properties from the Material property (this is actually accomplished using a MaterialPropertyBlock behind the scenes). This means that you can use the same material to render different sprites without worrying about which texture is assigned on the material.

The sprite is rendered on a mesh that uses position, color and UV at each vertex but no normal vector. If your material requires normal vectors then you can calculate them using a vertex shaderA program that runs on each vertex of a 3D model when the model is being rendered. More info
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(see the Surface Shader Examples page for further details).

The default shaders used for sprites are:

  • Sprites/Default - a simple alpha blended shader that does not interact with lights in the scene.

  • Sprites/Diffuse - a simple alpha-blended surface shaderUnity’s code generation approach that makes it much easier to write lit shaders than using low level vertex/pixel shader programs. More info
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    that does interact with lights. This generates a front-facing normal vector (0,0,–1).

Flipping

While Sprites can be flipped by setting negative transform.scale, this has the side effect of also flipping the child GameObjectsThe fundamental object in Unity scenes, which can represent characters, props, scenery, cameras, waypoints, and more. A GameObject’s functionality is defined by the Components attached to it. More info
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and also flipping the collidersAn invisible shape that is used to handle physical collisions for an object. A collider doesn’t need to be exactly the same shape as the object’s mesh - a rough approximation is often more efficient and indistinguishable in gameplay. More info
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, which can be performance intensive or otherwise not preferred.

The SpriteRenderer flipping feature provides a lightweight alternative which doesn’t affect any other components or GameObjects. It simply flips the rendered sprite on x or y axis and nothing else.

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Hardware Requirements for Unity's Graphics Features
Graphics HOWTOs