Week 4 (Part1): Unity Animation and Particles

Unity Animation and Particles

Particles systems in Unity enable you to create special visual effects that can incorporate physics engines and customisation. The great thing about particles in Unity is that there are many options and variables that can be changed to your liking.

Fire particle system created in Unity3D

What are particle systems?

The way a particle system works is with a central system that emits particles. These particles can be in the form of geometry, billboards, and meshes etc. Particles can be snow, rain, ash, explosion, light and so many more. Each particle has a central system and the particle effect is a able to be customised to create your desired particle effect. Each particle has a lifetime, velocity, a certain force, and gravity that effect the way the particle will behave. Other forces such as wind can create a blowing effect on the particle.

A simple particle system can be created by going to Game object > particle system. It’s as easy as that (at least for now). Alternatively you can create your own central system from a custom geometry. To achieve this after adding your chosen geometry (and having it selected), go to Components > Effects > Particle System.

Once the particle is placed in the scene, there are a diverse range of options in the Inspector display that allows you to customise the particle. Effects are when multiple systems are combined to create one particle system. For example if you having two separate particle systems, making one nested under the other creates a particle effect where both are able to be animated and controlled at the same time. This method is useful for creating unique particle systems with detail effects.

The module in the inspector panel determines how the particle behaves. Playing around with the different options can help understand and visualise how each variable changes the particle system and how you can utilise each option for your own ideas and projects.


This tutorial by Eric Van de Kerckhove is a good example of how you can customise a default particle to become something completely different. The tutorial runs through how to make fire for a torch by starting off with a general particle system and customising it to become a fire particle.

There is an immense amount of information about particle systems to learn, however the best type of learning is through practise and exploration (plus it’s can keep you entertained for a good while). I have also linked a great tutorial that is an introduction to particle systems in the “What are particle systems?” title. Check it out!

Goals for the HoloLens

Once you start using particles you’ll probably become obsessed… Trying out the particle systems in Unity gives me ideas on how to use it in our HoloLens application for the pavilion. It will create an extra depth and an extra layer of immersion to the experience and will keep the user entertained and intrigued as well.

I am to utilise particle systems in a way that is unique to the project and will have an impact.

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