How to Install Spine in Unreal Engine 5

Are you trying to import and use your Spine animations inside Unreal Engine?

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to make it work.

Unfortunately, this is not an easy process, but once you get it installed, it will be easier the next time.

What is Spine?

Spine is a computer program made by Esoteric Software to bring 2D characters to life in games using bone animations.

This means that instead of creating a sprite sheet, Spine allows you to move the skeleton of your character to make animations.

1. Create a C++ Project in Unreal Engine

The first step to installing Spine is to create a C++ project in Unreal Engine 5 or, at least, Unreal Engine 4.27.

If you encounter a compiling error during the creation process, go to our solution guide first.

Once the project is created, save it and close the engine.

Keep in mind that the Spine Plugin will only work with a C++ Project in Unreal Engine.

Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with C++, as you can still use Blueprints in a C++ project.

New C++ UE5 Project

To convert an existing UE project to C++, go to the main top toolbar and select ‘Tools‘ and then choose ‘New C++ Class…‘.

Choose Actor as the Parent Class, and change the Runtime so that you have selected the project folder.

2. Download Spine Runtimes

The second step is just to download the Spine Runtimes from GitHub.

GitHub Spine Runtimes

3. Install Spine-ue4

Next, unzip the file, navigate to the ‘spine-ue4‘ folder, and open the ‘Setup.bat‘ file.

Don’t worry that the folder is named ‘ue4’, it will also work on ‘ue5.’

Tip: If you have the choice, stick with Unreal Engine 5.2 and avoid 5.3. The UE 5.3 version introduced the new skeletal editor, which changed the way the engine handles UAssets. Imported .skel, .json, and .atlas files can no longer share the same prefix or file name. This change can lead to bugs and issues that won’t occur in previous Unreal Engine versions. Learn More.

Spine Setup Unreal Engine

Go back to your Spine-Runtimes folder, select the ‘spine-cpp‘ folder and copy the ‘spine-cpp‘ folder inside of it.

Copy the second ‘spine-cpp‘ folder inside the spine-ue4 ‘Plugins‘ folder. Follow exactly this path:

\spine-ue4\Plugins\SpinePlugin\Source\SpinePlugin\Public

When finished, simply copy the ‘Plugins‘ folder to the project folder you created in Step 1.

Tip: In case you forgot the folder where you created the project, go to the Epic Games Launcher, select Unreal Engine, and navigate to your Library. Right-click on the project, then choose ‘Show Folder‘.

In the opened folder, copy the ‘Plugins‘ folder from the ‘spine-ue4’ folder.

4. Edit Build.cs File

You are almost done. To finish, go to the ‘Source‘ folder inside your Unreal Engine project.

Next, open the folder with your project name and open the file ‘ProjectName.Build.cs‘ in Visual Studio or any other C++ editor.

File Path: MyProject\Source\MyProject\MyProject.Build.cs

On line 11, add ‘SpinePlugin‘ to the end of the ‘PublicDependencyModuleNames’ line.

Copy the following line of code if you need it.

PublicDependencyModuleNames.AddRange(new string[] { "Core", "CoreUObject", "Engine", "InputCore", "SpinePlugin"});
Spine PublicDependencyModuleNames

5. Open Unreal Engine Project

Well done! Open the project you created in Step 1 in Unreal Engine.

If you have done everything correctly, a pop-up window should appear with the following message.

The following modules are missing or built with a different engine version:
SpinePlugin
SpineEditorPlugin
Would you like to rebuild them now?

Select ‘Yes‘.

Now, please wait. The project might take some time to open, possibly even 10 minutes or more.

After some time, you may either get lucky, and the project will open, or you might encounter an error message:

MyProject could not be compiled. Try rebuilding from source manually.

If you encounter an error, make sure that you followed all the previous steps correctly. It’s possible that you might have missed something.

Here are some ideas you can try to resolve this error:

  • Install the latest version of Microsoft Dotnet Core Runtime Link from Epic.
  • Make sure that Visual Studio is correctly installed.
  • Install Visual Studio 2019. Visual Studio 2019 and Visual Studio 2022 can both be installed. However, Unreal Engine 5.4 won’t support Visual Studio 2019.
  • Right click on the ‘MyProject.uproject’ unreal file, and select ‘Generate Visual Studio project files‘.

However, my best tip, which worked for me, was to open the ‘MyProject.sln‘ file in Visual Studio.

Fortunately, a warning appeared, and I simply clicked Install. This will tell you which components you need to compile the file. In my case, it was ‘MSVC v143 – VS 2022 C++ x64/x86‘.

Visual Studio Error

Once inside Visual Studio click on ‘Build’ -> ‘Build Solution‘ or ‘Ctrl+Shift+B’.

I recommend restarting the computer before creating the build, especially if you’ve already tried some of the other fixes. Certain files needed for the build might be currently in use in the background.

If you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked, seek support in the Spine Forum.

6. Activate Spine Plugin in Unreal Engine

Congratulations if you have made it this far.

If your project has opened correctly in Unreal Engine, just go to ‘Edit’ or ‘Settings’, select ‘Plugins,’ and activate the ‘Spine Plugin.

Spine Plugin Unreal Engine

Learn More