Best Free Animation Software: Top 10 Tools Reviewed

Best Free Animation Software: Top 10 Tools Reviewed

Animation has become an integral part of modern entertainment, education, and communication. It can be used to bring stories to life, explain complex concepts, and create eye-catching visuals. However, creating high-quality animations can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Luckily, there are several free animation software options available that can help bring your ideas to life without breaking the bank. 

In this article, we will explore some of the best free animation software options available, including their features and benefits, to help you choose the right one for your project. Whether you are a professional animator or just starting, these tools can help you create stunning animations with ease.

Let’s Begin! 

What Is An Animation Software? 

Animation software is a computer program used to create animations. It provides a set of tools and features that allow animators to create moving images, characters, and special effects for a variety of media such as films, TV shows, video games, and advertisements.

With animation software, artists can create animations in different styles and techniques, from traditional 2D hand-drawn animation to 3D computer-generated imagery (CGI). The software typically includes a timeline editor, a library of pre-made assets, tools for drawing and painting, and various animation effects and tools for creating and manipulating 3D models.

Some examples of popular animation software are Adobe Animate, Toon Boom Harmony, Autodesk Maya, Blender, and Cinema 4D. These programs are used by professional animators, studios, and hobbyists alike to bring their ideas to life and create engaging and dynamic visual content.

Animation Software Pros

Here are the top advantages of Animation Software: 

  • Creativity: Animation software allows you to create unique and visually engaging animations that are limited only by your imagination.
  • Efficiency: Compared to traditional animation methods, animation software can help you save time by automating repetitive tasks and providing tools that make the animation process more streamlined.
  • Customization: Animation software typically offers a wide range of tools and features that can be customized to fit your specific needs and preferences.
  • Collaboration: Many animation software programs allow for collaboration among team members, which can help improve the quality of the final product and make the animation process more efficient.
  • Cost-effective: While some animation software can be expensive, it is generally less expensive than traditional animation methods, such as hand-drawn animation.
  • Accessibility: With the rise of online animation software, creating animations has become more accessible to a wider range of people, including those who may not have access to expensive animation tools or specialized training.

Animation Software Cons

Here are the top disadvantages of Animation Software: 

  • Steep learning curve: Animation software can be complex and require a lot of time to master, which can be frustrating for beginners.
  • Expensive: Many animation software options are pricey, which can be prohibitive for small studios or individuals.
  • Time-consuming: Animation is a time-consuming process, and even with software to assist, it can still take a significant amount of time to create high-quality animations.
  • Requires powerful hardware: To run smoothly, animation software may require powerful computers with high-end graphics cards and other hardware components, which can be costly.
  • Limited flexibility: Animation software often has a specific set of tools and functions, which may not be suitable for all types of animations or styles. This can limit the creativity and flexibility of animators.
  • Dependence on technology: Animation software requires technology, which can sometimes malfunction or become outdated. Animators may need to constantly update their software and hardware to stay current.
  • Lack of personal touch: While animation software can create high-quality animations, they may lack the personal touch and individuality that comes with hand-drawn animations.

Top Free Animation Software

Here are the top free Animation Software:

1- Blender

Blender is a free and open-source 3D creation software for computer graphics, animation, and visual effects. It is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems and is maintained by the Blender Foundation.

Key features:

  • Modeling: Blender offers a range of modeling tools, including polygon modeling, sculpting, and retopology.
  • Animation: Blender includes a powerful animation toolset with keyframe animation, motion capture editing, and rigging.
  • Rendering: Blender has a built-in rendering engine and supports external rendering engines such as Cycles and Eevee.
  • VFX: Blender can be used for visual effects, including compositing, motion tracking, and video editing.
  • Simulation: Blender includes tools for fluid and smoke simulation, physics simulation, and particle simulation.

Pricing: 

Blender is completely free to use and is released under the GNU General Public License. However, some third-party add-ons and assets may have additional costs.

LicenseCost
BlenderFree
Third-party add-ons and assetsVaries

2- Pencil2D

Pencil2D is an open-source 2D animation software that allows users to create hand-drawn animation using traditional techniques. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and is suitable for both beginners and experienced animators.

Key Features:

  • Simple and intuitive interface
  • Supports both vector and bitmap graphics
  • Layer-based drawing and animation
  • Onion skinning for easy frame-by-frame animation
  • Export to popular video and image formats
  • Support for pressure-sensitive tablets

Pricing:

Pencil2D is completely free and open-source software, available for download from the official website.

FeaturePricing
Pencil2DFree
Source codeFree
Community supportFree
Online tutorialsFree
User manualFree

3- Synfig studio

Synfig Studio is a free and open-source 2D animation software that allows users to create high-quality animations with a wide range of tools and features.

  • Synfig Studio is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.
  • It uses vector graphics and allows for the creation of complex animations, including cut-out animation, traditional tweening, and morphing.

Key Features:

  • Bone-based animation system for realistic movements
  • Layers and filters for compositing and effects
  • Advanced controls for shapes, gradients, and colors
  • Supports a wide range of file formats, including PNG, BMP, JPEG, and SVG
  • Allows for the import of audio and video files
  • Offers a library of pre-made assets and templates
  • Provides onion skinning and sound synchronization features for precise animation timing

Pricing:

Synfig Studio is completely free and open-source, with no paid versions or subscriptions. Users can download the software from the Synfig Studio website and use it without any limitations.

4- Krita

Krita is a free and open-source digital painting software designed for artists, illustrators, and graphic designers. It is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.

Key features:

  • A customizable user interface with dockers and panels that can be moved or hidden according to the user’s preferences
  • Brush engines with over 100 preset brushes and the ability to create custom brushes
  • Support for various color models including RGB, CMYK, and LAB
  • A range of filters and effects such as blurs, noise reduction, and color adjustments
  • Advanced layer management with layer masks, layer styles, and layer groups
  • Support for various file formats such as PSD, JPEG, PNG, and TIFF

Pricing: 

Krita is free to download and use. However, users can choose to support the developers by donating to the project or purchasing a supporter badge, which gives access to additional features such as weekly builds and training materials.

Pricing OptionCost
Free$0
Supporter badge€9 per month or €99 per year
Business supportContact Krita for pricing information

5- OpenToonz

OpenToonz is a free, open-source 2D animation software that offers a range of features for creating professional-level animations. It was developed by Digital Video and Studio Ghibli, and is used by animators, artists, and designers around the world.

Key features:

  • A powerful drawing and painting toolset, including support for vector graphics, bitmap images, and customizable brushes
  • A timeline-based animation system with support for multiple layers and onion skinning
  • Advanced compositing features, such as image distortion and chroma keying
  • Support for various file formats, including PNG, JPEG, GIF, and MP4
  • Integration with other software tools, such as Blender and Adobe After Effects
  • A comprehensive scripting environment for automating tasks and creating custom tools

OpenToonz is available for free and can be downloaded from the official website. However, 

there are also commercial versions of the software available for purchase, which offer additional features and support.

EditionPriceFeatures
OpenToonzFreeBasic features and community support
Toonz Premium$900/yearAdvanced features and premium support
Toonz HarlequinContact SalesCustomizable version for large-scale projects

6-  Tupi

Tupi is an open-source 2D animation software designed for beginners and professionals. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and provides a user-friendly interface with powerful tools to create captivating animations.

Tupi was first released in 2010 and has since gained popularity for its simplicity and versatility. It uses a vector-based approach to create animations, which allows for smooth scaling and editing without pixelation or loss of quality. Tupi supports various file formats, including PNG, GIF, and AVI, and provides several export options to choose from.

Key Features:

  • User-friendly interface
  • Vector-based approach
  • Layers and frames organization
  • Onion skinning for better animation flow
  • Audio integration and synchronization
  • Multiple export options
  • Free and open-source

Pricing: 

PlanPrice
TupiFree
TupiPro$10/m
TupiCloud$15/m
EnterpriseContact for pricing

7- Animaker 

Animaker is a cloud-based video creation platform that allows users to create animated videos for various purposes such as explainer videos, product demos, social media ads, and more. The platform offers a simple and intuitive interface with a drag-and-drop editor that enables users to create high-quality animated videos without any prior experience.

Key features:

  • A wide range of pre-built templates and characters to choose from
  • Customizable backgrounds, music tracks, and voiceovers
  • A variety of animation styles such as 2D, 2.5D, and handcraft
  • The ability to import images, videos, and audio files
  • Collaboration tools for teams to work on projects together
  • Integration with popular social media and marketing platforms
PlanFeaturesPrice
FreeLimited features with watermarkFree
PersonalUnlimited exports$19/month or $29/month
StartupAdditional features and priority support$35/month or $59/month
BusinessAdvanced features and dedicated supportCustom pricing

8- Stykz

Stykz is a free, multi-platform stick figure animation program that allows users to create and edit animations using a simple and intuitive interface. It was originally inspired by Pivot Stickfigure Animator and is designed to be easy to use for beginners while still offering advanced features for more experienced animators.

Key features: 

  • Easy to use interface: Stykz offers a simple and intuitive interface that makes it easy for users to create and edit stick figure animations.
  • Frame-based animation: Stykz uses a frame-based animation system that allows users to create animations one frame at a time.
  • Onion skinning: Stykz offers onion skinning, which allows users to see the previous and next frames of their animation as a reference, making it easier to create smooth, fluid animations.
  • Keyframe animation: Stykz supports keyframe animation, which allows users to set keyframes for specific points in their animation and the software will automatically interpolate the frames between the keyframes.
  • Import/export options: Stykz supports import/export of a variety of file formats, including GIF, AVI, and QuickTime.
  • Customizable figures: Users can create their own stick figures or import pre-made figures and customize them to their liking.
  • Multi-platform support: Stykz is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Pricing:

Stykz is completely free to download and use. There are no hidden fees or in-app purchases.

9- Powtoon

Powtoon is a cloud-based platform that enables users to create engaging and dynamic animated videos and presentations. With its intuitive interface and drag-and-drop functionality, Powtoon is accessible to both beginners and professionals alike. The platform offers a range of templates, characters, backgrounds, and music to help users create stunning visual content in minutes.

Key Features:

  • Drag-and-drop functionality for easy use
  • A wide range of customizable templates, characters, backgrounds, and music
  • Ability to create animated videos, presentations, and GIFs
  • Collaboration tools for teams to work on projects together
  • Custom branding options and the ability to add voiceovers and sound effects
  • Integration with popular tools like YouTube, Vimeo, and Google Drive

Pricing: 

PlanFeaturesPrice
FreeBasic features, 100MB storage, Powtoon brandingFree
ProHD exports, more storage, no Powtoon branding$19/mo
AgencyTeam collaboration, custom branding, priority support$99/mo
EnterpriseCustomized plans for larger organizationsCustomized

10-  Plastic Paper Animation

Plastic Animation Paper, also known as PAP, is a software program used for 2D animation. It was created by the Danish company Plastree, and was first released in 1994. PAP is designed to be a simple and user-friendly program that allows animators to create traditional hand-drawn animations using digital tools.

One of the key features of PAP is its ability to work with a traditional light table setup. Animators can import scanned drawings and use PAP to layer and animate them on top of each other, simulating the process of animating on paper. PAP also includes tools for drawing and painting directly within the program, allowing animators to create new artwork without needing to switch between multiple applications.

Key Features:

  • Onion Skinning: Allows animators to see previous and future frames as a reference while drawing.
  • Light Table: Provides a virtual light table for animators to see multiple layers at once.
  • X-Sheet: A traditional exposure sheet used to plan out animations frame by frame.
  • Scanning: Allows animators to import hand-drawn sketches and drawings directly into the software.
  • Multiplane Camera: Simulates the effect of a physical multiplane camera, allowing animators to create depth in their animations.

Pricing: 

Plastic Animation Paper 4.0: $89.00 (one-time purchase)

Best Animation Software Comparison

ToolBlenderPencil2DSynfig StudioKritaOpenToonzTupiAnimakerStykzPowtoonPlastic Animation Paper
LicenseFree and Open SourceFree and Open SourceFree and Open SourceFree and Open SourceFree and Open SourceFree and Open SourceFreemiumFreeFreemiumFree and Premium
2D/3D animationBoth2D2D and 3D2D2D and 3D2D2D2D2D2D
PlatformWindows, Mac, LinuxWindows, Mac, LinuxWindows, Mac, LinuxWindows, Mac, LinuxWindows, Mac, LinuxWindows, Mac, LinuxWebWindows, MacWebWindows, Mac
Supported file formatsManyPNG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, TGA, TIFF, SVGSVG, BMP, GIF, PNG, ICO, JPEG, OpenEXR, HDR, DPX, Cineon, TGA, PPM, TIFF, AVI, MPEG, MOV, WEBM, FLV, GIFKRA, ORA, PNG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PSD, PDFTIF, PNG, SEQ, OpenToonz project file formatOGG, WEBM, AVI, SVG, GIF, JSONMP4, GIF.styksMP4, AVI, MOV, PPTX, PDFTGA, PNG, AVI, MOV, WEBM
Brush engineYesNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNoYes
Onion SkinningYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
RiggingYesNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
Audio supportYesNoYesYesYesNoYesNoYesNo
Keyframe animationYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Particle systemYesNoYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNo
Non-photorealistic RenderingYesNoYesYesYesNoYesNoYesYes

Conclusion 

After reviewing various animation software, it’s clear that there are a number of free options available. The best free animation software ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences.

For 2D animation, Pencil2D and Synfig Studio are excellent choices, as they offer a wide range of features and tools for creating frame-by-frame animations. Krita is another popular option for 2D animation, with a focus on digital painting and drawing.

For 3D animation, Blender is a standout choice. It offers a comprehensive set of tools for modeling, rigging, and animation, and has a large community of users who contribute to its development.

Other notable free animation software options include OpenToonz for 2D animation, and Daz Studio for 3D animation and rendering.

Overall, while paid animation software may offer more advanced features and capabilities, these free options are definitely worth exploring for those on a budget or just starting out in animation.

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