Search Unity

This post is a guide to importing a skinned mesh with a looping animation and then animating it’s position in Unity.
At the end of the guide you should been able to import a skinned mesh, parent it to a position node, animate positions & rotations along waypoints and then edit the animations, duplicate and move your mesh & animation path.


From your 3D package, select your animated Mesh and export to an FBX – read the FBX export guide for more details. If it is the only object and animation in the file you could save a Native 3D file – e.g. MB or.max, but to keep things simple I like to export just what I need. Make sure you:


  • Set the keyframe range for one animation or export all animations and remember to set up splits in Unity or use @ name formating (see documentation on animation).
  • Choose whether to bake your keyframes or not;
    • Fluid curves and organic animations need fewer keyframes so you can export without baking.
    • Linear, Stop – Start type animations with and  flat curves to keep the accuracy you might want to bake keyframes.
  • Check your axis conversion, scale units etc.
  • Verify – I cannot say this enough it’s always good to re-import your export into the same package to ensure you get what you’re expecting.


  • In Unity select your exported/saved animated asset in the Project window.
  • Set your scale, animation splits and any other relevant stuff in the importer options in the Inspector.
  • Open or create a scene – Drag your animated model, lets call it Shark into the scene.
  • Create an empty object in the scene: from the Menu choose > Game Object > Create Empty – name it to SharkPos, where Shark is the name of your animated object and Position.
  • Move the empty SharkPos to the location of Shark, so you can use the gizmo from the same position. To position accurately you could copy and past the translation values.
  • Parent your Shark to the SharkPos object (this allows you to keep separate the animation of the position from the animated object’s idle/other animations).


  • Animate position/rotation of xPos:
    1. Open animation panel
    2. Create new clip > name and place somewhere sensible like assets\animation
    3. Move SharkPos to start position – Use gizmo to move object to desired position for start of your animation (this updates the translate value, so move a bit even if close to desired position)
    4. Set a keyframe on frame 0 with the  <>+ button
    5. Move to next  keyframe – Drag forward  in the time line, marked by seconds – you may need to zoom in and out with  scroll wheel
    6. Move and/or rotate SharkPos (keyframe will be set for you)
    7. Beware of  rotate values resetting -your rotation value can reset to 0 when you rotate past 180 degrees with the gizmo. If it does simply move the key in the graph to the correct value.
    8. Repeat until animation complete

Check the animation panel intro video for a more detailed look at the interface:


  • To ensure a looping path, copy values from the first to the last keyframe – e.g click in the value of translation x, copy the number, go to the last keyframe click in the value and paste, and so on.
  • For Rotation values, to ensure consistent rotation direction, make sure the first and last are not the same value but 360 degrees apart e.g. first frame is y=-30 the last frame is y= 330.
  • To change the way your animation eases in and out of each keyframe right click the keyframe and choose the Tangents to edit and manipulate the handles – see editing curves for more info.
  • To edit timing, grouped keyframes can be moved and manipulated from the timeline (the diamond shapes at the top) to save moving and matching up keyframes from each channel.


  • Parent to a new empty object – e.g.Shark01 this node can be used to move the whole animated object and path together.
  • Duplicate and/or move as necessary.

Two Hammerheads in your pool :-)

10 replies on “Animating skinned mesh along waypoints in Unity”

#Olly: speaking of water4 is it possible to create an infinite water with it? or non-planar water surface (like river or waterfall)

Hi Olly,

thanks for this great guide. Would it be possible to put up a download link to the hammerhead skinned mesh?

These tutorials are great.

I vote to bundle these tutorials up with the assets and scripts and put them in the asset store as free downloadable tutorials. I think that would be even more helpful.


I really enjoy these little tips, At one point or another they become really useful in any projects.
We should definitly have more of these.
Not long tutorial per say just useful tips and trick from the Gurus of the Unity team.


Is this water shown here the same as the Advanced Water prefab that was introduced in 3.4? Because for reason it looks a lot better here :)

Comments are closed.