Unity – Particle Systems

Another concept art class vanished into the nether today due to a visiting school group, leaving us now 4-5 weeks behind with Tony’s work. I’m beginning to lose count and find it rather irksome it’s always the same class getting cancelled. Thankfully Gary leapt in and offered to teach us something of use in the empty time. He’d focus on particle systems in Unity, one of the things he’s still doing for a living on the side.

I had briefly used a particle system before in one of Ant’s old tutorials for adding fire to a spaceship engine. I was about to learn they could be far more useful and flexible than that. Adding a new particle system to a scene is as simple as going to the create menu and clicking on particle system. With default settings they all appear like this:


The effect I used for the spaceship game wasn’t too far removed from the default. I’d soon learn that particles could be changed using materials, and materials could be sprite sheets! Having a dig around on google as instructed, I saved and imported this into Unity:


The advice given was to find sheets that already had an alpha background or a black background, to aid with the blend modes of the material (Additive, Alpha Blended & Multiply).

Thankfully there were only a few of us engaged in this particle activity so Gary could give a lot of one to one time, which most of us needed.


So above is the explosion and still a particle effect, just with the emission set to 1, the shape options turned off completely and a few other edits for duration, start lifetime and start size. Next is the fun bit. Gary made a few edits, turning the shape options back on and editing the emission rates, the result is great.


Earlier in the class Gary had demonstrated a horizontal snowflake particle to be used as a buff/de-buff animation. Since there was plenty of time left I enquired how to re-create it. The main option change was setting the particle renderer to ‘Horizontal Billboard’ (makes sense). I thought I would attempt to create something akin to a poison de-buff and went looking for a skull I could feed the particle system, along with a bubble (this will become clear later).

Other than the billboard setting, I played with colour over lifetime and rotation over lifetime for the skull on the ground. I then created a new particle system and made this a child of the skull particle system. A few edits later from what we’d learned earlier and I cooked this up.


I absolutely love it. I could definitely get into making these. I’m impressed already and barely know a minute fraction of what they can do!



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