Introduction to Unity UI – Part 2

In this second part of a three-part tutorial, you’ll learn how to incorporate animations into your user interfaces. By Ben MacKinnon.

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Update February 2019: This tutorial was updated to Unity 2018.3 by Ben MacKinnon. Original post by Kirill Muzykov.

Welcome back! In part one of this three-part tutorial series, you created a scene with two buttons. You learned how to use the Image, Button and Text UI controls, and you learned core concepts such as RectTransform, Anchors and Pivots. That’s a lot of skills to learn in one tutorial! However, the scene itself is pretty simple.

In this tutorial, you’ll spruce up the scene by adding animations, a settings dialog and more UI controls like Slider and Toggle.

You’ll be picking up the project from the end of part one. If you don’t have it already, download the project by clicking the Download Materials button at either the top or bottom of this tutorial.

Open the project in Unity. Open the MenuScene, grab an invigorating beverage and start drinking thinking UI! :]

Animating Buttons

You’re going to jump right in by adding some cool animations. Why? First, animations are cool! Second, they’re practical for this project. You need the buttons to exit from the scene so there’ll be enough space to display the new dialog you’ll create later.

Creating Animation and Animator

Animating buttons is just like animating any other Unity object. You’ll need to add an Animator component, create a few animations and set up states and transitions between them.

Here are the steps to success:

  1. Select StartButton in the Hierarchy.
  2. Open the Animation view by selecting Window ▸ Animation ▸ Animation from the menu.
  3. Click on the Create button in the Animation view. This will create the Animator and an animation clip.
  4. Name the animation StartButtonSlideOut and save it in RW ▸ Animations.

In addition to creating the animation itself, Unity also adds an Animator component to StartButton and creates an Animator Controller. Ready to get started?

Animating a Button Sliding Out of the Screen

Although you’ll technically make two animations — the button slides out and then back in — you’re a savvy developer! You’ll create one animation and then reverse it.

To create the slide-out animation, follow these steps:

  1. Select StartButton in the Hierarchy.
  2. Make sure the Animation view is visible.
  3. Click on the 1:00 mark in the timeline and then click the Record button.
  4. Change Anchors to top-stretch.
  5. Change Pos Y to 60 in the Inspector.
  6. Stop the recording by clicking the red circle button.

Two things happened:

  1. A keyframe was inserted automatically at the 0:00 mark. At this point, the button is at its starting position, where you positioned it in the previous tutorial.
  2. Although the anchors’ visual representation didn’t turn red, you can see the numeric values changed and turned red, indicating that you’ve also animated the anchors.

Make both the Animation view and Scene view visible and play the animation. You’ll see something like this:

Did you notice the animation on the anchors? You may be wondering why you need to reposition the anchors.

Here’s why: The position of the button is the distance to its anchors. In the case of StartButton, it was the distance from the bottom edge. Right now, you’re only working with vertical movement, so only the bottom edge matters. To make sure the button leaves the screen, move it up until it’s no longer visible.

What if you don’t know the height of the screen? How do you make sure the button stops right after it’s no longer visible?

Answer: Change its anchors.

Setting the anchors to the top edge of the screen means you set the distance from the top edge of the screen. Thus, the button will always be above the edge and independent from the height of the screen, since it’s positioned relative to the screen’s top edge.

Animating Button Slide In

Nice work! You have a button that slides out of the screen. Now you need a reverse animation. You’ll use it in two cases:

  1. When the scene loads, you want the button to slide into position instead of simply appearing.
  2. When you close the settings dialog, the buttons should return to their initial positions.

First, disable the animation looping, since the button should move either up or down and then stop instead of moving back and forth.

To disable looping, open RW ▸ Animations in the Project window and select the StartButtonSlideOut animation. In the Inspector, uncheck Loop Time.

Then, select StartButton in the Hierarchy and open the Animator view by selecting Window ▸ Animation ▸ Animator. Right-click on the StartButtonSlideOut state and select Copy.

Then right-click anywhere in the free space inside the Animator view and select Paste. This duplicates the StartButtonSlideOut state.

Now, select this duplicated state, which should be something like StartButtonSlideOut 0, and rename it to StartButtonSlideIn in the Inspector. Additionally, set Speed to -1.

Then, inside the Animator view, right-click on StartButtonSlideIn and select Set as Layer Default State, since you want the button to start its lifecycle by sliding into the screen and not vice-versa.

Next, you need a parameter to control the state of the button. In the left-hand column of the Animator window, click the Parameters tab. Next, click the + button and add a new Bool parameter named isHidden.

Finally, add two transitions between the states. To do this, right-click on the StartButtonSlideOut state and select Make Transition. Click on the StartButtonSlideIn to make a transition.

After that, create a reverse transition by right-clicking StartButtonSlideIn, selecting Make Transition and clicking on the StartButtonSlideOut. This is what you should get in the end:

You’re close, but you still need to assign a value to isHidden based on which transition is occurring.

Select the transition from StartButtonSlideOut to StartButtonSlideIn. In the Inspector, click the + in the Conditions panel. Set isHidden to false.

Then select the transition that goes in opposite direction, from StartButtonSlideIn to StartButtonSlideOut and set its Conditions to be isHidden equals true.

Select File ▸ Save to save your work so far and run the scene. You should see your button slide in. Then change isHidden manually to make the button slide back.