12 BEST Free 2D And 3D Animation Software [2021 Comparison]

A Comprehensive Review of the Top Animation Software with Features, Comparison, & Pricing. Select the Best Free or Commercial Animation Software Based on Your Requirements:

Animation software is a class of computer software programs that are able to create 2D (two-dimensional) and 3D (three-dimensional) moving images. Although the industry has been moving towards 3D animations more and more, 2D animation still features in a variety of places including applications where low bandwidth is required.

Best Animation Software

Animation Software Review

The market for animation software is as diverse as they come. While looking for Animation Software, you can find a range of options from high-end solutions used to make award-winning movies to free software used by hobbyists and those new to animation.

This tutorial lists the top Animation Software solutions including a comparison on Pricing and Features to help you make the right choice.

Fact Check: According to the research carried out by Markets and Markets, the 3D animation market is experiencing a sizable growth at 11.9% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate). In fact, the market is expected to reach a total value of 21,050 million by 2022. Driving this demand is the wide-spread adoption of visual effects in the entertainment industry amongst other reasons.
3D animation market
Pro Tip: Start with a free open-source solution that allows you to learn without spending money. On the other hand, if you’re already familiar with designing animations, then pick a tool that will still be useful in the future. After all, it just takes time to learn the ins and outs of an application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) Which is the best Animation Software for beginners?

Answer: There are several Animation Software solutions available – some are geared towards beginners whilst the others are designed for more advanced users. If you’re just beginning, then take a look at Moho and FlipBook which should provide you with a nice introduction to the exciting world of animations.

Q #2) How much does Animation Software cost?

Answer: Prices for animation software vary between free and thousands of dollars. If you’re just starting out with animation software, then we recommend one of the many open-source solutions that can help you get acquainted with the mechanics of animation without breaking the bank.

Q #3) Will I need to buy a new computer to run Animation Software?

Answer: The answer to this question depends on two things i.e. your computer and the software that you want to run. Most companies list the minimum requirements on the website, thereby allowing you to see if your computer has enough power to run the software.

Some companies also offer Android and iOS versions of their software which you might want to check out.

Q #4) Which is the best Animation Software?

Answer: There isn’t a straight answer to this question. The best tool for the job is always the tool that gets the job done. Some software solutions are designed for beginners and are perfectly capable of handling small jobs.

Other tools, such as Maya Autodesk are able to handle much bigger jobs which tools such as Moho and FlipBook might not necessarily be able to handle.

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List Of The Top Animation Software

Let’s have a look at the top animation software solutions available in the market today.

  1. Maya Autodesk
  2. Blender
  3. Maxon Cinema 4D
  4. Moho
  5. Synfig Studio
  6. Pencil 2D
  7. Dragonframe
  8. iStopMotion
  9. Toon Boom Harmony
  10. FlipBook
  11. Open Toonz
  12. TupiTube

Comparison Of Best Animation Tools

Tool NamePurposePlatformFree TrialPrice
Maya Autodesk3D computer software for animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering.Windows, Mac, Linux.Yes$1,545 per year.
Maxon Cinema 4DA software package for 3D artists looking to achieve amazing results fast and pain-free.Windows, Mac, Linux.Yes, 14 days.Eur 61.49/month.
MohoAn affordable tool for beginners to professionals looking to create animations.Windows, MacMoho Debut13; no free trial.
Moho Pro13; 30 days.
Moho Debut13 $59.99.
Moho Pro13 $399.99.
Synfig StudioA free and open-source animation program to create vector graphics and timeline-based animations.Windows, Mac, Linux.NAFree
Pencil 2DA simple 2D animation software to create hand-drawn animations.Windows, Mac, Linux.NAFree

#1) Maya Autodesk

Best for 3D artists looking for 3D computer software for animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering.
Price: $1,545 per year

Maya Autodesk

Maya Autodesk is an industry-leading 3D computer animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software. It is used by the likes of Disney, who have won a number of Academy Awards thanks to using Maya Autodesk.

It features technologies such as Bifrost and Arnold, that allow you to create procedural effects and render complex projects respectively.

Features

  • Pipeline integration: Uses MEL (Maya Embedded Language) or Python to write scripts and plugins.
  • Arnold: Uses Arnold to run previews that look closer to the final product than ever before. This, together with real-time rendering and efficient color management can help you to do more in less time.

Verdict: Maya Autodesk is at the top of the range solution used by big companies for high-end graphics in big-name productions.

Website: Maya Autodesk


#2) Maxon Cinema 4D

Best for 3D artists looking for a software package to achieve amazing results fast and pain-free.
Price: Starts from Eur 61.49/month. A free trial for 14 days.

Maxon Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is a 3D package from Maxon that is not only easy to use but also extremely powerful. The interface is very intuitive and user-friendly. Cinema 4D is a perfect tool for beginners as it has many tutorials and an exceptional help system.

Businesses chose Cinema 4D for its reliability and the ability to produce quick and high-quality results.

Features

  • Many tools for 3D creation including modeling, texturing, animation, and rendering.
  • Pipeline supports many formats for import and export.
  • Template library with high-quality textures and objects.

Verdict: Maxon Cinema 4D is a great choice for both beginners and experienced graphic designers alike. It is the right fit for both small and medium-sized businesses as it is both easy to use and powerful enough to produce jaw-dropping results quickly.

Website: Maxon Cinema 4D


#3) Moho

Best for Beginners to professionals looking for an affordable tool to create animations.

Price:

  • Moho Debut13 $59.99. No free trial.
  • Moho Pro13 $399.99. Free trial for 30 days.

moho

Moho is an animation software solution that comes in two distinct packages i.e. Moho Pro13 and Moho Debut13.

Moho Debut13 is a 2D animation software that is fun and easy to use, while Moho Pro 13 is a more advanced version, supporting 3D animation. Moho is used in classrooms, professional studios, and homes around the world.

Features

  • All 2D and 3D animation tools in a user-friendly interface.
  • Many content add ons available for purchasing.
  • Moho Pro can be personalized, thanks to scripting support.

Verdict: Moho offers two products i.e. for beginners and one for professionals. The software features all the necessary tools for high-quality animations. It is a great choice for individuals as well as medium to large businesses.

Website: Moho


#4) Synfig Studio

Best for Artists looking for a free and open-source animation program to create vector graphics and timeline-based animations.

Price: Free

synfig studio

Synfig Studio is an open-source, free 2D animation software product. Using this software, you can create high-quality 2D animations using both bitmap and vector artwork. The software is easy to use and there are many tutorials online to help you along the way.

Features

  • All 2D animation tools, vector transformation, layers & filters, bones, and much more.
  • Open source for full customization.
  • Online tutorials

Verdict: Synfig is a great, free Animation Software tool. It makes it easy and fast to create simple 2D animations and therefore it can be great for small businesses.

Website: Synfig Studio


#5) Pencil 2D

Best for Artists looking for a simple 2D animation software to create hand-drawn animations.
Price: Free

pencil2d

Pencil 2D is an easy and very intuitive tool for hand-drawn 2D animations. It is open-source and as such, it is free to use for everyone. It uses both bitmap and vector artwork. Users can also include audio and video files with Pencil 2D.

Features

  • Creates both bitmap and vector artwork.
  • Easy to use tools, including brush, pencil, and shapes.
  • Open source and easy to customize.

Verdict: Pencil 2D is a very simple, free 2D animation software solution. It is best for creating classic hand-drawn animations quickly.

Website: Pencil 2D


#6) Blender

Best for Artists and small teams looking for a free and open-source 3D creation pipeline.
Price: Free

blender

Blender is a free, open-source 3D creation suite. It supports animation, modeling, simulation, rigging, rendering, and the rest of the 3D pipeline.

As it is open-source, users can customize the application using Python scripting and create the tools they need. User updates are often included in new releases of Blender.

Features

  • A wide selection of tools including rendering, modeling, sculpting, animation 7 rigging, and grease pencil as well as video editing tools, simulation, and VFX.
  • Pipeline – Blender supports import/export in a number of different formats.
  • Blender’s interface is fully customizable while the Python API allows scripting and further customization.

Verdict: Blender is the perfect software for freelancers and small groups. It is free, customizable, and easy to use. It features many high-quality tools and supports different import and export formats.

Website: Blender


#7) Dragonframe

Best for Studios and independent filmmakers looking for industry-standard stop motion animation software.
Price: Starts from $295. No free trial.

dragonframe

Dragonframe is a stop motion animation software. The software is packed with features that allow you to create high-quality stop-motion animations faster. Besides the software, Dragonframe also offers keypad controllers, lighting, motion control, and other products to take stop motion animation to the next level.

Features

  • Animation tools, including timeline, drawing tools, guide layers, and much more.
  • Camera controls and lightning.
  • Onion Skin overlays a transparent layer of your previous shot.

Verdict: Dragonframe is a great choice for medium to large businesses. It can produce high-quality stop motion animation and is easy to use. As it is very well priced, it is also a great option for individual artists and small companies.

Website: Dragonframe


#8) iStopMotion

Best for Artists looking to tell a story through stop motion.
Price: $21.99. Free trial is also available.

iStopMotion

iStopMotion is a stop motion and time-lapse software for Mac and iOS. Not only is it user-friendly and easy to use, but it is very powerful too. It can be used on Mac computers, iPads, and iPhones. iStopMotion is used by educators of all disciplines as well as beginner artists and small companies.

Features

  • Animated GIF allows the users to create GIFs of up to 200 frames.
  • Onion Skin – shows you the previous shot as a transparent layer.
  • Chroma Keying – allows you to combine animation with real movies.

Verdict: iStopMotion is very easy to use and costs very little too. However, due to the lack of features, it is only a viable option for beginner artists and small companies that do not require high-quality complex animations.

Website: iStopMotion


#9) Toon Boom Harmony

Best for Students, Freelancers, Artists, and Professional animators looking for 2D animation and full production capabilities.

Price: Starts from $410 or $17/month. A free trial is available for 21 days.

Toon Boom Harmony

Toon Boom Harmony is an animation software that offers three packages i.e. Essentials, Advanced, and Premium. This makes it a perfect choice for everyone, right from freelance artists to big animation studios. It is mostly used for 2D games as well as films and TV series.

Features

  • Supports vector and bitmap drawings.
  • Cut-out animation with special tools to create rigs and different looks.
  • Pipeline integration – you can work with many different formats, including PDF, illustrator, bitmaps, and audio.

Verdict: Toon Boom Harmony is great for 2D animations. A wide selection of tools guarantees flexibility and functionality while creating traditional cartoons. It has been chosen as the go-to solution by many animation studios and individual artists alike.

Website: Toon Boom Harmony


#10) FlipBook

Best for Artists looking for an easy to use, yet powerful 2D animation software.
Price: Starts from $19.99. A free demo version is available.

Flipbook

FlipBook is an easy to use 2D animation software program and yet it is powerful enough as it can be used by both beginners and professionals.

The company behind FlipBook also offers many tutorials and unlimited technical support for all users. FlipBook features all the tools required to create high-quality 2D animations at an affordable price.

Features

  • A wide selection of tools including drawing, shooting, scanning, and painting tools.
  • When creating 2D animation with FlipBook, you can import backgrounds, cels, overlays, and movies.
  • You can also add soundtracks in many different formats, such as WAV, MP3, or AIF.

Verdict: FlipBook is probably easy to use 2D animation software. It features all the tools that one might need and has a user-friendly interface.

Website: FlipBook


#11) OpenToonz

Best for Artists looking for open-source animation production software.
Price: Free

Opentoonz

OpenToonz – as the title suggests is an open-source and free 2D animation software. It offers a powerful set of utilities featuring all the tools that most animation artists would need. It also has some unique features that were developed from the feedback given by users and production staff.

One of them is GTS – a scanning tool. What’s more, is that OpenToonz is the open-source version of Toonz – the animation software used by none other than Ghibli studios.

Features

  • Includes many animation tools, including scanning, digital painting, filming, and others.
  • Works with both bitmap and vector images.
  • Open source, allows anyone to customize and upgrade it.

Verdict: Based on the reviews, OpenToonz might not be very easy to use and it takes a bit of learning to get the hang of it. However once that is done, the possibilities are endless and it doesn’t cost anything.

Website: OpenToonz


#12) TupiTube

Best for Amateur artists and children looking for a usability-focused 2D animation software tool.
Price: Free

Tupitube

TupiTube is a free software solution that is available for Desktop and Android. The TupiTube App is made for children and teenagers and TupiTube Desk is great for children and amateur artists. This software is great in the classrooms and for those who would like to start creating animations.

Features

  • Animation and transition tools.
  • Modeling and game creation.
  • Collaboration tools

Verdict: TupiTube is a great, free 2D animation software for children. As it’s quite basic, it lacks many features and is not used by professionals.

Website: TupiTube


Conclusion

Just like many other software solutions, Animation software also comes in all shapes and sizes. While there are some clear winners, the most important thing is to understand what you want to accomplish and then choose the software solution that best fits your needs and budget.

Also read =>> Top Whiteboard Animation Maker Tools

To help you get started, we have picked the winners for the best overall solution and the best solution for beginners.

Overall Best: Maya Autodesk

For sheer power and capability, Maya Autodesk is the overall best winner. Whilst the price is the highest from all of the tools we compared, but when it comes to technical capability, nothing beats this program.

Best for Beginners: Moho

While there are animation software solutions that are free and can make perfect sense for beginners, Moho offers something that grows with you. It is also fun and easy to use thereby making the required time investment pleasant.

Our Review Process:

Time Taken to research this article: 12 hours
Total Tools Researched: 20
Top Tools Shortlisted: 12

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