9 Best FREE Animation Software Programs (Oct 2022 Update)

Animation shows and cartoons are popular forms of entertainment in the modern world. Several animators across the globe strive to find animation software that works for their projects.

It is important to note that the kind of work determines the preferred software. Some people tend to build games, while others work on creating cartoons. To convey a story, an animator needs to have a fundamental knowledge of the rendering tools and motion composition of 2D and 3D animation models.

Following is a handpicked list of Top Animation Software and tools, with its popular features, pros & cons, and website links. The list contains open-source (free) and commercial(paid) vector animation software.

Best Animation Apps: Top Free Programs

Product Name Supported Systems Type Main Features Free Trial Link
Adobe After Effects Windows 7/10, macOS version 10.13, 10.14, 10.15 2D and 3D elements • Content-Auto Fill for video
• Keyframe
• Roto brush
• pre-compositions feature.
• Luma track matte
7 Days free trial Learn More
Maya macOS X, Windows, Fedora, and RHEL. 3D software • Sweep mesh tool
• Pipeline integration
• Hair grooming
• Pivot snapping
• ready to use graphs
30 Days free trial Learn More
Toon Boom macOS X, Windows 10, Web 2D software • bitmap and vector drawing
• painting options
• 2D and 3D character integration.
• Rigging features.
• Sound management effects
21 Days free trial Learn More
Dragon Frame 4 Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Blackmagic,webcams, smartphones. stop-motion software • Composition, focus, and composure controls
• Camera movement complex program.
• Multi-track editing
• DMX lighting board
• keyframe editing l
30 Days free trial Learn More
Houdini Linux, macOS X, Windows 3D software • Pyro FX and Cloud FX
• Vellum solver
• Particle dynamics
• Crowd simulation tool
• IPR viewer
Learning Edition Learn More
Blender Linux, macOS X, Windows 3D software • 2D artists and storyboards.
• High-end production path tracer
• The UI
• Real-time preview track
Free Learn More
OpenToonz macOS X, Windows 2D software • Templates
• 2D Drawing and 3D Video Editing
• Image scanning
• Import/Export of video/audio/Images
• Royalty image library
Free Basic Version Learn More
Pencil2d Linux, Free BSD, MacOS X, Windows 7/8/10 2D software • Vector and raster image support.
• Media Import/Export.
• Extensive tools
• File and project management
• Pre-built templates
Free Learn More
Daz studio Windows 7-10, Vista, macOS X 10.7 going up, macOS X 10.6 going up. 3D capabilities • Custom female and male clones.
• Interface for facial expression.
• Realistic Human avatars.
• Web and print graphic design.
• Morphing creations.
Free Trail Version Learn More

1) Adobe After Effects

Best for All levels of beginners and experts. Allows for team projects

Adobe After Effects is a digital program used for video compositing, creating motion graphics, and visual effects. The software generates motion designs with 2D and 3D elements. It stacks many videos and other visual media on top of each other. It offers different tools for cutting, blending, and merging layers to produce new footage.

Adobe After Effects

Features:

  • It has a Content-Auto Fill, which removes unnecessary parts from your video.
  • It uses a keyframe that sets the start and endpoint of animation motion.
  • The pre-compositions feature can lay and display effects as one clip.
  • Luma track matte dictates the transparency beneath a layer.
  • It runs on Windows 64-bit 7/10, macOS version 10.13 to 10.15.
  • Free Trial: Yes
  • Price: $20.99/Month

System Requirements:

  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Hard Disk Space: > 15 GB
  • Monitor Resolution: 1280×1080
  • GPU: CUDA or Quadro
  • CPU: AMD Quad-Core Processor
  • Internet connection

Pros:

  • It has the 3D capability and incorporates well with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator among other programs.
  • The software has precise graph flow for intended motion customization of your elements.
  • It has a camera and planar tracking features that make it easier to stick objects into the scene.

Cons:

  • Does notallow you to put more than one video on the same track.

More Information >>


2) Maya

Best for Industry-standard 3D software. It is used by most professionals and Hollywood by large, primarily because of the quality of its 3d images.

Maya is a 3D computer animation software used by professionals in developing games, animation, and visual effects. It has extensive language for building models, motion graphics, and various simulation tools. Maya has unique options, features, and presents, making it easy to customize while adding animations to films.

Maya

Features:

  • Sweep mesh tool
  • Pipeline integration
  • Hair grooming
  • Pivot snapping to other objects
  • Pre-existing ready to use graphs
  • Universal Scene Description (USD) plugin
  • Cached Playback
  • Motion graphics with procedural effects
  • Bifrost interface
  • Physics effects
  • Free Trial: Yes
  • Price: $195/Month, students free

System Requirements:

  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Hard Disk Space: > 4 GB
  • Monitor Resolution: >1080p
  • GPU:NVIDIA professional and GeForce
  • CPU: AMD or 64-bit Intel core i7
  • Supported Operating System: macOS X, Windows, Fedora, and RHEL.

Pros:

  • Maya’s approach to modelling using curves makes workflow very easy.
  • It offers easy shading and free drawing of 3D shapes.
  • Maya offers a fast rendering.
  • Building workflows is easy since Maya is customizable.

Cons:

  • Learning the 3D curve is time-consuming.

More Information >>


3) Toon Boom

Best for creation of 2D animations which has been used in the production of Rick and Morty, SpongeBob, and The Simpsons.

Toon Boom Harmony is one of the best 2D animation programs used by popular animation studios and companies worldwide. It is a user-friendly program utilized by both advanced animators and beginners.

This software can run the line between rig-based and frame by frame animation. It enhances excellent animation production by using bitmap and vector graphics.

Toon Boom

Features:

  • Improved bitmap and vector drawing tools.
  • Advanced color space, color palettes, and painting options for various colors and textures.
  • It offers 2D and 3D character animation integration for many outcomes.
  • Rigging and cut-out animation tool.
  • Special sound management effects.
  • Free Trial: Yes
  • Price: $24/Month (Essentials), $63/month (advanced), $115/month (premium)

System Requirements:

  • RAM: 32 GB
  • Hard Disk Space: > 1.2 GB
  • Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • GPU: Radeon Pro 560 (OS), NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (WINDOWS)
  • CPU: Intel Core i7, Xeon or better
  • Supported Operating systems: macOS X, Windows 10 (64bit), Web.

Pros:

  • Many import and export options allow you to upload paper drawings or digital images for different file types.
  • It provides many options for drawing and animation programs.
  • Different brush line appearance. For instance, they can look like chalk, pencil, pen, or square.

Cons:

  • Glitches might happen if your computer’s software is not up to date.

Link: https://www.toonboom.com/


4) Dragon Frame

Best for Stop motion animation software and connects to the camera in real-time.

Dragon Frame software is a motion studio preference. It creates high-quality stop-motion animation and makes motion designs.

This software works with a digital camera with live view capabilities like Sony, Canon, and Nikon. It offers complete control of camera settings during filming, allowing frame-by-frame animation coordination.

Tapping between frames will involve using onion skin or toggling to control the tiniest increments.

Dragon Frame

Features:

  • It offers composition, focus, and composure controls.
  • Camera movement complex program.
  • Multi-track editing for multiple audio tracks.
  • DMX lighting board which is exposure-based.
  • Keyframe editing of full-body motion capture.
  • Magnification tools for live view.
  • Gamepad controller can be used to program motion control.
  • Animate tools such as onion skin, looping, and toggling.
  • It runs on Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Blackmagic, webcams, smartphones.
  • Supports camera.
  • Free Trial: Yes
  • Price: One-off $295

System Requirements:

  • RAM: 2 GB
  • GPU: OpenGL Version >2.1 support
  • CPU: 1.33 GHz or faster
  • Supported Operating systems: Windows (64 Bit Only), macOS, Linux

Pros:

  • Tools are more organized, making it easy to customize the workspace.
  • The interface allows for better optimization and accessibility for post-production.
  • You can have a reference video on the side while animating.

Cons:

  • The program needs a powerful computer when dealing with a lot of data.

Link: https://www.dragonframe.com


5) Houdini

Best for Creating real-world VFX animations.

Houdini is a free animation software for 3D modeling developed by side effects to create interactive animations and VFX. It is a node-based procedural application that provides animation in real-time. That’s because it flows data in methods that are not achievable in traditional animation techniques.

This one of the best animation apps that has several styles of organic effects such as destruction, fire, fumes, fluids, among others. An anime studio and freelance artist rely on it for the production pipeline due to its features for creating VFX.

It can also integrate visual effects into live-action shots to achieve high-quality results. Houdini has produced films such as Zootopia and Frozen.

Houdini

Features:

  • Pyro FX and Cloud FX for fire and smoke simulations
  • Particle dynamics
  • Crowd simulation tool
  • IPR viewer to light and relight
  • Cloth and hair simulation tool
  • Geometry tools for modeling
  • Nodes-based workflow
  • Free Trial: Available
  • Price: Free

System Requirements:

  • RAM: 32 GB DDR4
  • Hard Disk Space: 3 GB>
  • Monitor Resolution: 1920 X 1200
  • GPU:NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
  • CPU: AMD 2950X 16 Core
  • Supported Operating system: Linux, macOS X, Windows

Pros:

  • The procedural workflow saves time by making changes quickly in the pipeline.
  • Provide powerful rendering and modeling capabilities.
  • Offer particle and Fluid viscous dynamics.

Cons:

  • Have a steep learning curve and take up a lot of practice.

Link: https://www.sidefx.com/


6) Blender

Best for Full 3D capabilities like rigging, texturing, and animations.

Blender is one of the best free animation software for 3D modeling, developed by several contributors around the globe. It comes with a comprehensive array of free tools to edit, transform various 3D models, and create animations.

This is one of the best animation programs that supports the whole animation workflow. These include rigging, texturing, animations, motion tracking, compositing, simulation, and rendering.

The features of blender software make it suitable to create professional animations.

Blender

Features:

  • High-end production path tracer.
  • It offers comprehensive modeling tools such as curves and sculpturing.
  • The UI is customizable.
  • Real-time preview track with prominent visual effects.
  • Complete animation support, including sculpt brush strokes, colors, and onion skinning.
  • Object tracking using 360 degrees camera rotation.
  • Free Trial: Available
  • Price: Free

System Requirements:

  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Hard Disk Space: >500 MB
  • Monitor Resolution: 1280 x 768
  • GPU: OpenGL Version >4.3 support
  • CPU: 64-bit dual-core with SSE2 support.
  • Supported Operating system: Linux, macOS X, Windows

Pros:

  • Importing animations and textures is easy.
  • Free software with lots of learning resources
  • Suitable for sculpting and modeling.

Cons:

  • The existing user interface can be confusing.

Link: https://www.blender.org/


7) OpenToonz

Best for Learning 2D animation. Professional industry standard.

OpenToonz is a 2D animation software with multiple powerful tools to make various animation styles. It has an API that supports camera ICC profile scanning and brings characters to life.

As the successor of Studio Ghibli’s leading production software, it proved itself to be on the professional level. This software is helpful in projects when relying on classic freehand drawing tools. It is one of the best animation apps that both expert animators and beginners can use.

OpenToonz

Features:

  • Animated video templates are customizable
  • Available for free
  • 2D Drawing and 3D Video Editing
  • Image scanning using four types of scanning
  • Import/Export of video/audio/Images
  • Royalty image library
  • Create animation distortions
  • It runs on macOS X Windows.
  • Free Trial: Available
  • Price: Free

System Requirements:

  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Hard Disk Space: >500 MB
  • Monitor Resolution: 1280 x 1024
  • GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060 or Radeon Pro 560
  • CPU: Intel Core processor (I-series)
  • Supported Operating system: macOS X and Windows.

Pros:

  • Wide range of brushes to simulate multiple classic media
  • The greatest level of accuracy is due to the smooth scan of hand-drawn artwork.
  • The interface is customizable to your liking.

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve because of an unusual interface.

Link: https://opentoonz.github.io/e/


8) Pencil2D

Best for Easy learning and has professional tools.

Pencil2D is a tremendous professional tool used for designing 2D hand-drawn animations. It is also the best free animation software that anyone can use due to its simple features and options. The significant part is that it runs on any operating system. It means that whether an expert or a beginner, you can easily understand its features and create animated videos.

This 2D animation software uses vector graphics and raster/bitmap in creating 2D animations. It has an intuitive interface with sketch ink and paint features for creating desired projects. Pencil2D uses frame-by-frame basics. This tool will be an excellent choice for your animation journey if you prefer traditional animation!

Pencil2D

Features:

  • Vector and raster image support.
  • Media Import/Export.
  • It offers extensive tools such as onion skinning, keyframe, layers, and panels.
  • Provides Image Editing, Image Library, and Image Tracing
  • File and project management for an orderly timeline.
  • Pre-built templates come in handy for projects.
  • Minimal UI design makes it easy to concentrate on your scene.
  • It runs on
  • Free Trial: Available
  • Price: Free

System Requirements:

  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Hard Disk Space: 2183 MB
  • Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • GPU: Open SUSE 42.1 and RedHat 6.6 or later version
  • CPU: ICore-5 (3rd Generation or Above)
  • Supported Operating systems: Linux, Free BSD, macOS X, Windows 7/8/10.

Pros:

  • Great for practicing and learning 2D animation.
  • It offers free tutorials in various languages.
  • Simple and easy user interface.

Cons:

  • Do not support 3D animation.

Link: https://www.pencil2d.org/


9) Daz studio

Best for Allowing the creation of characters and scenes in seconds.

Daz Studio is a software developed by Daz 3D to create and render animation videos. It currently has a free version.

Daz Studio achieves render by prompting you to locate the appropriate file configuration. It performs renders as defined by that configuration file. The software is popular among artists, especially those with ideas but no animation skills.

It is a good animation software for comic books and even book covers for character creation. The idea is to customize the animated characters by making the background, bringing some objects, and giving them life.

Daz studio

Features:

  • Custom female and male clones.
  • Interface for facial expression.
  • Realistic Human avatars.
  • Web and print graphic design.
  • Offers Hexagon 3D modeling, guides, and snapping.
  • Morphing creations.
  • Dress and hair modeling.
  • Free Trial: Available
  • Price: Free

System Requirements:

  • RAM: 1 GB min (2 GB+ recommended)
  • Hard Disk Space: > 1 GB
  • GPU: Open GL version 1.6 min.
  • CPU: Intel Dual-Core
  • Supported Operating systems: Windows 7-10, Vista (32 and 64 bit), macOS

Pros:

  • Support import/export various file formats.
  • The user interface is customizable.
  • Detailed models are available.

Cons:

  • Posing controls is challenging.

More Information >>

What are the factors to consider in animation software?

The choice for great animation software depends on its use, whether you are a professional, a novice, or a hobbyist.

Here are the important consideration for selecting animation software:

  • Price: If you are an individual, you will go for the software aligning with your budget. This way, it is easier for you to save on money. There are some free animation software with no subscription. But you could go for subscription software that fits your needs for a large business organization or a studio.
  • Preloaded templates: Consider looking into the templates, background, graphics, and libraries of characters. They make the process of production much simple and faster.
  • 2D or 3D features: For a defined and detailed animation, go for software with 3D elements. Although, if you are more of a traditional sketcher, then 2D animation software would be great for you.
  • Drawing tools: Paint and brushes make your animation lively, making them more appealing. For specific outlooks, find the options for customization using internal or external files.
  • Compatibility: Make Sure that the animation software is compatible with your operating system. That’s because some software and file formats tend to operate on high-end devices only. Also, some use mobile apps, while others use PC only.
  • Complexity: Consider using free animation software options if you have no experience. Great animation software for beginners is user-friendly.
  • Import/export features: Saved files can be imported or exported in different formats.

FAQs:

❗ What is animation software?

Animation software creates scenes on a frame by frame using still images. After the frame creation within the software is layered together to form motion transitions. Users can generate moving graphics depending on a specific program. Either by using frame-by-frame or tween animation methods.

✔️ What are the Best Animation Software?

Here are some of the Best Animation Software:

⚡ How many types of Animation Software are there?

There are two available types of animation software:

  • 2-dimensional, 2D, Software: This animation software only represents anything in a cell with width and height. This animation is not well-defined and uses linear shades and shadows.
  • 3-dimensional, 3D, Software: 3D animation software represents anything in a cell with a width, height, and depth. The resulting image animations have advanced features with perfectly defined shades and shadows. It is a clear depiction of real-life images.

❗ What software do animation YouTubers use?

YouTubers use the blender, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Character Animator, OpenToonz, Adobe Animate, to name a few. The software used depends on the animation type and the running operating system. Some YouTubers prefer online animation software such as Moovly, Powtoon, and Animaker.