When developing I used single frame animations to test the mecanim to see that all the states worked. For the Landers, I used different colours to represent each of the states. Then when I was sure it all hung together nicely I created the animations.
Drag an image onto the Hierarchy then click Window->Animation
Click add property then click the plus on the right
I use Spriter by Brashmonkey to do the animations, I know I can create the animations directly in Unity and it has advantages with regard the colliders, but for simple animations I still use Spriter.
Also I love all of the effects they have already created for us, look at the video to check them out.