Unity – sprite packing

Best practices with Unity have always been an hidden gem. Most precisely concerning the Resources folder. Hopefully things are changing with Unity’s best practices guide! And things are simple concerning the Resources folder: just don’t use it!

Managing 2D Sprites in Unity is simple if you have a static scene: just put every sprite needed on your screen and you’re almost done. Obviously you should package them in Spritesheets. The easy way to do it is via Unity’ Sprite Packer tool. But what to do if you need to load Sprites at runtime? How to access a Sprite if it’s not linked directly on a GameObject or a Prefab and without using the Resources folder?

Create a ScriptableObject! They are the best way to store informations within Unity. Here is an Editor Script for generating ScriptableObjects with a list of Sprites for each Packing Tag mentioned:

using UnityEngine;
using UnityEditor;
using System;
using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.IO;

public class SpritesData:ScriptableObject {

	public Sprite[] sprites;

	static public string assetDirPath = "RuntimeSprites/SpritesData/";
	static public string assetPath = "Assets/RuntimeSprites/SpritesData/{0}.asset";

	[MenuItem("Data/Create Sprites Data")]
	static void CreateSpritesData() {
		string dirPath = Application.dataPath + "/" +  assetDirPath;

		if (!System.IO.Directory.Exists(dirPath))

		SpritesData data = ScriptableObject.CreateInstance<SpritesData>();

		List<Sprite> spritesList = new List<Sprite>();

		string[] anims = AssetDatabase.FindAssets("t:Sprite", new string[] {"Assets/Sprites"});

		string currentTag = "";

		foreach (string anim in anims) {

			string path = AssetDatabase.GUIDToAssetPath(anim);

			TextureImporter ti = TextureImporter.GetAtPath(path) as TextureImporter;

			if (ti.spritePackingTag != currentTag) {

				if (data && currentTag != "") {

					data.sprites = spritesList.ToArray();
					AssetDatabase.CreateAsset(data, string.Format(assetPath, currentTag));

				data = ScriptableObject.CreateInstance<SpritesData>();
				spritesList = new List<Sprite>();

				currentTag = ti.spritePackingTag;

			Sprite sprite = AssetDatabase.LoadAssetAtPath<Sprite>(path);


		data.sprites = spritesList.ToArray();
		AssetDatabase.CreateAsset(data, string.Format(assetPath, currentTag));

Now that you have all your SpritesData you just have to create a MonoBehaviour with a public SpritesData[] spritesDatas; property, then you will have access to all your sprites! The good things is while a sprite isn’t displayed on Screen it’s not in memory.


2 thoughts on “Unity – sprite packing”

  1. Hi, can you explain more detail how to use it in code ?
    for example getting specific sprite from unity native sprite packer auto generate with specific packing-tag and sprite-name ?

    1. Hey, this code will create a ScriptableObject. This ScriptableObject can be linked to a GameObject having a public SpritesData[] spritesDatas; property. Then you just have to browse the array for accessing your Sprites.

      If you want to access via a specific name, instead of an array you should use a Dictionary!

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