25 Best Free Animation Software for Beginners [Free & Paid]

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List Of Best Free Animation Software for Beginners:

Get the list of top animation software. The internet is full of loads of visual content. Besides simple videos, animation is another creative aspect of online visual content. Though the animation is used in a variety of industries; films & entertainment are one field where you will witness it the most. 

In this article, we provide a basic outline of animation, along with an overview of the top 25 free animation software for beginners

In the current digital era, animation can do a lot more than being a source of entertainment for children with different kinds of toys. It works as an efficient tool for visual communication. Although it provides an entirely different medium for creativity and expression, if we see it practically, the movement of animated characters draws more attention than just images.

So, whether it’s a Disney movie or your favorite video game that you are in love with, it’s always fascinating to watch imaginary characters move and act just like reality.  

Essence Studios offers great video marketing solutions to their clients. Check out the list of some of the best list of best free animation software curated by them.

What is Animation?

Animation is capturing of static images such as pictures or drawings of inanimate objects while playing or moving them in quick succession in order to mimic real-life motion. In simple words, animation is a way in which figures are made to appear as moving objects. Basically, there are two types of animation – namely 2D & 3D animation. 

If you wonder, where did the concept of animation emerged from? The concept of sequential art dates back to hundreds of years and more, depending on how the cave paintings were interpreted. Animation came into existence with the invention of the film strip. Moreover, the optics behind the concept of animation have been known to be around since the 1800s and it’s been continuously evolving since then.

25 Best Free Animation Software for Beginners 

1. Pencil2D 

Pencil2D

Pencil2D is an open-source, free animation software that works great for creating 2D hand-drawn animations. The easy, intuitive, and lightweight interface makes it possible to switch between vector and raster graphics. Also, it allows you to focus on animating rather than what button to choose next. 

Features: 

  • It allows you to upload your project which helps in development of the software
  • The software also lets it users import and export GIFs 
  • If you switch between raster and vector workflows, you can easily sketch, paint & ink whenever you want to
  • The latest version of Pencil2D includes features like x-sheet support, undo/redo, new layer manipulation operations, etc

The biggest downside of this software is that the user has to enter their preferences every time they open it. 

Available on: Mac, Windows & Linux

2. Synfig Studios 

Synfig Studios

Synfig Studios is another open-source & free animation software for beginners. This is an ideal animation tool for people who do not prefer frame-by-frame software. The software is loaded with a selection of simple tools and features. 

Features: 

  • Vector Tweening – This feature allows you to transform from one vector shape to another. Besides, it offers you complete control over your vector artwork. You are just required to fix the key positions to automatically calculate the in-between frames.
  • The software offers over 50 layers to develop a highly creative animation. You can select from different types of layers such as filters, gradients, distortions, geometrics, fractals, transformations, etc. 
  • A fully-fledged bone system can be used to create cutout animation or for controlling the vector artwork
  • The additional Skeleton Distortion Layer is used to apply complicated deformations to bitmap artwork
  • Create advanced character puppets by linking parameters of different layers

The only disadvantage of this is that it may take a little longer to learn this software as it’s a bit complicated. 

Available on: Windows, macOS & Linux

3. Adobe Character Animator 

Adobe Character Animator

One of the best free animation softwares, Adobe Character Animator, offers a seamless animation experience to its users. It is a motion capture animation software that allows users to create 2D character animation, live animation, etc which is why it’s quite popular in Hollywood and among other content creators.

An Emmy-award-winning animation tool, Adobe Character Animator uses your movements & facial expressions to create animated characters in real-time. Besides, the software works so fast that it allows you to Livestream in front of your audience while you work.  

Features: 

  • Using a webcam and a microphone, you can match your expressions to create animated characters in real time
  • It includes a variety of control gestures like waving, walking, breathing, blinking, etc which can easily saved as triggers
  • Turn a puppet alive with a simple voice track along with movements & expressions
  • It allows you to hide tracks, colorise takes that are available in the timeline
  • Offers a feature called Keyframes that allows you to create a moment
  • Offers easily synchronization of music with the animation

You can either get your hands on a 7-day free trial or opt for one of the paid plans offered by it. 

Available on: Windows & macOS

4. Toon Boom Harmony

Toon Boom Harmony

Create high-end animation with Toon Boom Harmony – a robust, end-to-end free animation software, that has been chosen by the leading animation experts for 25 years. With a moderate learning curve, this animation tool works well for both beginners as well as professionals. 

The software helps in setting the trends for award-winning animation whether its cutout or paperless animation. It is packed with some of the latest tools for shading, lighting along with other special effects that lets you create more realistic animation. 

Features: 

  • Save loads of time & money with its advanced rigging and master controller functionality 
  • Offers defined colour palettes along with a high-end brush engine
  • Offers deformers, paperless animation, cut-out animation, pipeline integration as well as a variety of special effects
  • Get in touch with their team of experts who are always available online 
  • The latest update includes features such as stylus pressure responsiveness, stabilizer for lines, as well as tilt & angle responsiveness
  • The software can also be used with Adobe Illustrator, along with a variety of extensions like PDF, PSB, PSD and Bitmaps

Toon Boom Harmony comes with three plans namely – Essentials, Advanced & Premium. All the 3 plans are suitable for students/enthusiasts, freelancers and professionals separately. 

Available on: Windows & macOS

5. Moho Debut 

Moho Debut

Moho Debut is an ideal choice both for amateurs and animation enthusiasts. One of the best animation software for beginners, this software offers a simple interface and a collection of robust tools. It offers multilingual support which means it is accessible in different languages including English, French, German, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese. 

Besides, the built-in tutorials and demos guide you and help you learn how to use each tool efficiently. The software offers a free trial and also has paid plans. 

Features: 

  • Choose from a selection of pre-made characters, scenes, props, audio & video clips, etc.
  • Pin Bone allows you to add one-point bones to move, alter or reshape assets in various ways
  • The powerful vector drawing tools lets the users create their own characters as well as objects 
  • You can record your own soundtrack or even import an audio file to your animations 
  • With Motion & Video Tracking feature, you can add an object to an imported video clip to follow the rotation & position of another object
  • Bend any object along its defined path with the Follow Path Tool
  • Allows you to open more than one document at the same time while also letting you switch between tabs
  • Create and save your own keyboard shortcuts
  • Edit several layers at the same time

The software offers both a free trial as well as a paid version. 

Available on: macOS & Windows

6. DigiCel Flipbook

DigiCel Flipbook

DigiCel Flipbook is undoubtedly the easiest free animation software that is available out there. But never let its simplicity fool you. Software perfect for beginners, Flipbook is powerful enough with a vast variety of tools that are required to create a good animation. 

The software designs a single frame at a time which is why it is also popular as a frame-by-frame animation software. It is based on the concept of a standard media player which just requires adding a few drawings/paintings as well as camera tools to create fun cartoon animations. You can also create attractive stop motion videos with this software. 

Features: 

  • It lets you scan your artworks directly from the paper to the software
  • Offers features like lip-sync support, multiple-frame work desk, zoom, pan, rotate, blur tools 
  • You can also scan your finished work to the best image quality
  • It allows you to export or import files in different formats 
  • Another super feature of this software is that you can make changes in a file while the loop is running and the changes will be visible to you when the scene loops around next time

You can download the free trial version or use the paid plans whichever suits your budget and requirements

Available on: Windows & macOS

7. Stop Motion Studio 

Stop Motion Studio

If you wish to create top-quality stop motion videos, Stop Motion Studio is an ideal software for you. It uses the frame-by-frame technique to create terrific 4K stop motion videos very easily. The software also offers a variety of cool features including an excellent sound editor. 

With this software, you can either use your smartphone’s camera to capture single frames or use a separate digital camera that can be attached to your device. Plus, you can also use a second phone in order to add a better perspective to your videos. 

Features: 

  • The software allows you to edit, cut, paste, copy, delete, or add frames in any position 
  • You can easily add titles, audio clips, credits along with a variety of filter effects 
  • The In and Out points helps the user to fix a specific part of the movie for looping and playback
  • The Grid & Onion Skin Controls aids in positioning of animated objects in a more precise manner
  • Bring your characters to life by adding from a selection of audio tracks & sound effects. Also, you can directly record a voiceover to your movie.
  • Get more creative by using a variety of painting tools & brush sizes
  • Use the masking tool to remove unwanted objects from the image
  • The Green Screen or Chroma Keying tool helps you change the background color of your image or scene while making it appear anywhere you wish to 

You can either use a free trial or go for the paid versions which are available on all the platforms. 

Available on: Android, Windows, macOS & iOS

8. CrazyTalk

CrazyTalk

CrazyTalk is not just any usual animation software. This 3D animation tool is one of the most popular facial animation software which uses voice and text to produce animated facial images. It allows the user to utilize their voice intensity to create real-time animations. 

CrazyTalk is widely used in the field of marketing and video production. Besides, it is also used in 3D Talking Head Production where 3D face fitting technology is used to convert photos into real 3D or classic 2D heads. 

The software can be quite overwhelming if you are a newbie, but they offer free video tutorials & manuals which are available online to help you learn it better. Also, there’s a support desk, if you face any issues. It offers both free trial as well as paid plans. 

Features: 

  • Turn photos into real 3D or classic 2D heads using the 3D face fitting technology
  • Allows you to synthesize the 3D head with both Front/Side photo profiles 
  • Offers various atmospheric settings such as lighting, background and wind
  • The Auto Motion feature lets you automatically create head & facial movements using your voice or audio tracks
  • Dress up as well as customize designs of accessories
  • You can edit with modify sliders, expression templates and muscle control
  • Offers timeline editing with separate part control as well as motion clips 
  • The software supports all image & video formats to up to 4K

Available on: Windows & Mac

9. Cartoon Animator 4 

Cartoon Animator 4 

Cartoon Animator 4 is one of the best free animation software for beginners and professionals. It is a 2D animation tool developed for both productivity and entry. It works more or less like Adobe’s Character Animator which uses your voice & facial expressions to create attractive animations. 

If you don’t wish to buy the software, you can opt for its 30-day free trial. Cartoon Animator 4 is packed with a vast variety of powerful features. 

Features: 

  • It allows its users to integrate their work with Adobe Photoshop while letting them use PSD templates for designing
  • Some of its key features include full-body motion capture, hand tracking & digital puppets, audio lip-syncing, sprite-base facial system, stretch animation, etc
  • It allows you to turn still images to animated characters, create 3D parallax scenes and 2D visual effects
  • The Pipeline feature can be used to import 3D motions into 2D artwork, while it also helps in creating unique and customized elastic motion libraries. 
  • The software supports monitors with 4K resolution
  • Other latest features include video compositing, 2D motion capture, 3D Motion Converter, 360 Head Creation, etc

Available on: Windows 10/8/7

10. Animaker 

Animaker

Animaker is an ideal platform for amateurs, professionals as well as other animation enthusiasts. It is a cloud-based DIY animation software that allows users to create studio-quality animations & stunning Live-Action videos in a few minutes. The software is used by giant corporations like Nokia, Siemens, Amazon, Dell, and the like. 

With Animaker, you can create everything from whiteboard animation videos and handcraft videos to animated infographics, educational videos as well as short video clips for marketing purposes. 

Features: 

  • It offers a library full of thousands of stock photos and videos 
  • Upload & edit your videos at 4K resolution 
  • With over 15 facial features, you can customize & create the character of your choice 
  • It offers more than 20 facial expressions to bring your characters as well as videos to life 
  • The auto lip-syncing feature lets you easily add voiceover to your different characters 
  • Overlay your videos with images, text or stickers to make them more visually appealing
  • It supports both vertical and horizontal layouts as well as full HD too
  • Other important features include premade background tracks, text-to-speech, voice recorder, along with an entire collection of sound effects
  • With a simple resize option, you can switch between various video types in order to reuse your video on different platforms

Animaker offers 4 different monthly as well as yearly plans which are Basic, Starter, Pro & Enterprise. The pricing for all these plans hugely differs in terms of features and tools.  

11. Blender 

Blender

Blender is a platform widely used by professionals and is one of the best free animation software for creating stunning animations. It is a free & open-source 3D suite that serves multiple purposes such as modeling, animation, rendering, rigging, simulation, compositing, motion tracking, as well as video editing. 

The free version of Blender is equally robust in terms of high-end features, so if you are a beginner you can definitely go for it. Not only is it used by professionals, but individual artists, animation enthusiasts, students, and scientists. 

The only drawback of this software is that it has a steep learning curve, therefore it may take some time to learn it especially if you are a newbie. 

Features: 

  • It offers tools such as real-time viewport review, PBR shaders, CPU & GPU rendering, HDR lighting support, advanced modeling, sculpting, etc
  • The flexible Python-controlled interface allows you to easily adjust layouts, size, fonts, colours, etc
  • You can import raw footage, mask areas, track the footage as well as view the camera movements throughout the 3D scene
  • Offers 12 training series with over 100 hours of training
  • Besides, the video editing feature offers a vast selection of advanced audio & video tools

Available on: macOS, Windows & Linux

12. Mari 

Mari

Mari is a 3D painting software that allows the user to add texture to any object. Mari is one of the best animation software that offers hundreds of HD textures. The software is equipped with Python API to automate studios & workflows. 

Features: 

  • Allows you to adjust or change the paint before you even start working on an image
  • Offers support for UDIM workflows
  • Allows you to mix paint and the adjustment layer for building shader
  • It lets you easily import & convert a set of texture into a Mari material
  • Manage color transformations easily
  • It also supports Ptex format to UV-based texture

13. MotionBuilder 

MotionBuilder

Designed by Autodesk, MotionBuilder is a powerful 3D character animation software that is used in creating films, television, games as well as multimedia. It serves a variety of purposes including virtual cinematography, motion capture as well as traditional keyframe animation. 

MotionBuilder provides animators and technical directors for real-time animation & editing, a non-linear environment for 3D editing, along with tools for extending and customizing the software. 

Features: 

  • Allows you to manipulate motion capture data
  • It allows you to edit, capture and playback character animation
  • You can exchange data with other animations softwares such as 3D Max, Maya and MotionBuilder
  • You can easily add real-time movement to your characters 

14.  OpenToonz 

OpenToonz

OpenToonz is one of the best free animation software mostly used to create 2D animations. An open-source software, it is widely used in both commercials as well as non-commercial projects. 

Features: 

  • OpenToonz offers a variety of functionalities such as Affected Incident Light, Changing Picture Styles and Wavy Distortion
  • Offers a selection of drawing tools such as indexed colour palettes, vector & bitmap drawing tools, special effects, etc
  • Other tools include scripting, motion tracking, motion tweening, frame-by-frame animation, bones character animation, composite scene, etc

Available on: MacOS & Windows

15. Powtoon 

Powtoon

Launched in 2012, Powtoon is a free-to-use animation software mainly designed for creating presentations and explainer videos. Powtoon is a tool that can be used by both amateurs and professionals. Used by a lot of big corporations like Google, Adobe, Microsoft, IBM, eBay, Coca Cola, Cisco, etc, for developing creative infographics and marketing clips. 

Powtoon is mostly considered a powerful visual communication tool that allows you to create professional videos according to your audience’s preferences. This is why the software is also hugely popular in schools & colleges for creating educational videos. 

Features: 

  • The free version allows you to easily export to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo as well as Powerpoint presentations and PDFs
  • You can also customize the styles and modify the aspect ratio and sizes
  • Implement image files while creating attractive GIFs 
  • It also allows you to import themes from Powerpoint if in case you don’t wish to start all over again from scratch

Besides a free version, PowToon also offers 3 paid plans namely Pro, Pro +, and Agency. They also provide free tutorials to help you learn the software. 

16. Mixamo 

Mixamo

Mixamo is a 3D character animation software that uses techniques like machine learning to automate the entire process of character animation, 3D modeling, rigging as well as 3D animation. 

It allows creators and artists to create and customize their 3D character animation. 

Features: 

  • It also offers a vast selection of high-end 3D pre-made characters 
  • You can download different animations in several formats
  • You can easily convert pre-made character into other characters
  • Easily set custom characters as per an entire human skeleton

17. TupiTube

TupiTube

TupiTube is the best free animation software for children and amateurs. It is an open-source platform that allows users to create 2D animation using a simple interface with a moderate learning curve. 

Features: 

  • The software offers few fundamental tools for vector illustration such as ellipses, rectangles, polygons and lines. You can also create paths with the pen/pencil tool.
  • You can import and use Raster images as animated assets or static backgrounds 
  • Allows exporting all the final images and animations to various file formats
  • Allows tweening of positions, rotate, colors, scale, sheer & opacity 
  • With the Library Panel, you can organize and reuse of imported media assets
  • Fill bounded areas of vector objects using the paint bucket tool

TupiTube also offers a wide range of tutorials and demos for its users. The only drawback with this software is that it can’t be used to create 3D videos. 

Available on: Windows & MacOS

18. Terragen

Terragen

Terragen works as a scenery generator program with a moderate learning curve and ideal for beginners. It is an animation software mainly used for creating animations of landscapes

Features: 

  • Terragen has recently introduced a feature called the ray-traced preview which works excellent for producing eye-catching animations
  • Other features include fast rendering, photo-real clouds, lens effects, ozone simulation, shaders & enhancements, etc
  • Terragen Pro offers tools like FBX, spherical camera, render layers & AOVs 3D motion blur, as well as stereo camera

The only drawback of this software is that the interface may be a little complicated especially if you are new to the world of animation. Besides a free trial version, Terragen offers different paid subscription plans to its users. 

Available on: MacOS & Windows

19. Clip Studio 

Clip Studio

Clip Studio Paint is one of the best free animation software for drawing and painting purposes. The free animation program was initially promoted as Manga Studio and is widely used for creating digital comics, illustrations as well as 2D animation. 

The full-featured version of this software is page-based that supports text, bitmap & vector art, 3D models along with frame-by-frame animation. You can use it on a tablet computer or a graphics tablet. 

You can use the free trial as well as paid plans too for these video editing software

Features: 

  • It offers a brush to paint & draw which helps in capturing every detail of the drawing. It also has readymade rulers to help you easily draw lines. 
  • The built-in stabilizer helps you draw smooth lines
  • You can adjust the thickness, shape as well as layers 
  • Customize your own pen to draw a stroke 
  • You can customize & decide sizes and texture for brushes as per your preference
  • Lets you easily convert layers to dots images 
  • Offers over 1000 customizable brushes

Available on: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Chrome OS

20. Animation Paper

Animation Paper

Animation Paper is one of the most powerful & efficient animation software for creating 2D hand-drawn animations. The simple and intuitive interface is suitable for beginners who wish to create basic animated videos. 

The software is quite popular among professional animators, game developers, and filmmakers. Animation Paper is packed with a wide range of features such as:

  • High-end & customizable onion skinning
  • Big & small format frames
  • Top-notch lines & stabilization 
  • Real-time rotation & zoom as well as options for flipping
  • Tools for painting & colouring 
  • Full-frame reference on the second monitor to facilitate faster editing
  • YouTube tutorials for new users 

The original version of Animation Paper – PAP is free to download. 

Available on: Windows, MacOS & Linux

21. K-3D

K-3D is a free-to-use 3D animation software that works as a combination of flexible plugins with a pipeline architecture. The tool is highly popular among animation enthusiasts for its versatility & robustness. Not to mention, the easy, intuitive, and the consistent interface makes it easily understandable both for amateurs and professionals. 

K-3D specializes in polygonal modeling – a graphic designing approach that represents object surfaces using polygons. 

Features: 

  • They offer superb tutorials demonstrating how to use their different features such as symmetric modeling, texturing and shadows. 
  • The advanced undo/redo system allows the user to fix any mistake that occurs 
  • The procedural & parametric workflows allows you to adjust and view it there & then
  • It offers a node-based visualization pipeline that allows editors to create connections as well as combinations for various elements of the video. This allows you to work on one side of the model, while mirroring the other side to view how it looks when welded together. 

Available on: MacOS & Windows

22. Maxon

Developed by Maxon Computer, Maxon is highly used for 3D modeling, motion, and rendering purposes. The robust and easy interface is perfect for 3D artists, be they, beginners or professionals. Using this software, you can easily achieve various animation goals including texturing. The tool offers solutions for creating 3D graphics too. 

The software offers a trial version along with different monthly & annual paid plans.  

Features: 

  • Create top-quality product visualization with customized models 
  • Create realistic as well as abstract animations
  • You can directly select fonts from the drop-down menu 
  • It lets you easily refine whatever ideas you have through procedural objects & shaders

Available on: Windows, Linux & MacOS

23. iClone

One of the best free animation softwares, iClone offers real-time 3D animation. It is widely used in the film & television industry, gaming industry, education sector as well as content development purposes. It allows users to easily create realistic and stylized animations. 

Features: 

  • Offers features such as real camera system, scenes & props, lighting, real-time visuals, etc
  • You can easily import or export different types of 3D assets such as animated props, 3D assets, etc
  • The drag and drop functionality facilitates lighting any interior or exterior scene
  • Convert a 3D scene to a photo-realistic one
  • Animate any character with a tool for both body and face
  • It offers ready to use motions, accessories as well as characters

Available on: Windows 10/8/7

24. Houdini 

Houdini is a 3D animation software largely used in the entertainment & gaming industry for creating stunning visual effects. The software has been used in producing a variety of animated feature films such as Frozen, Fantasia 2000, Zootopia, and more. 

Houdini allows animation specialists to work liberally and create several iterations while sharing the work with others. It is one of the best animation software available for creating attractive cityscapes and other complex models. 

Features: 

  • Some of its top features include a range of Dynamics, keyframed animation, motion capture, and raw channel manipulation
  • Facilitates composition of floating-point deep images
  • Offers a vast selection of polygons and Subdivision Surface modeling tools
  • Allows you to choose from various third-party rendering apps like RenderMan, OctaneRender and Redshift

Available on: MacOS, Windows & Linux

25. Daz 3D

Daz 3D is another application that specializes in 3D modeling, posing, animation and rendering. The software enables animators to create 3D human models. The newest version also provides tools for adding light and texture to an image. 

Features: 

  • Models look hand-painted with perfect detailing
  • Allows importing of content to other 3D tools like Mudbox, Maya, 3DS Max, etc
  • Allows easy transfer of figures to Maya in just a few clicks
  • You can export the final output to different formats like FBX, Universal 3D, COLLADA, and BVH

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best animation software? 

All the above-mentioned animation software are ideal in their own way, however, you can choose depending on your budget and requirements. We recommend you to try Toon Boom Harmony, Pencil2D, Animaker, Adobe Character Animator, Blender, Digicel Flipbook, Moho Debut, CrazyTalk, MotionBuilder, OpenToonz, Mixamo, and TupiTube. 

Top: 25 Best Free Animation Software For Beginners

Get the list of top animation software for beginners. Animation is highly popular in the current digital age. Take a loot at these free softwares.

Operating System: web

Application Category: animation

Editor's Rating:
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