Best Animation Software for PC – Free & Premium

There’s no wonder that the new advancement in animation technology has taken center stage. This new way to edit your photos is hilarious and helps express your feeling that words cannot be explicit. What if you want to express your feeling with some animated image? Are you wondering how you can?

Well, there are free and paid apps to do it by yourself. We are conversant with some fantastic animated photo makers to animate your still photo.

Let’s get started with some basics first. Are you in? I hope you’re in!

What is an Animation Software?

Animation software is a set of tools used to create and edit animations for various purposes. Such as creating animated movies, videos, and games. However, many other industries use it as well.

Anyone can use this software to create 2D or 3D animations, depending on the type of software you choose to use. It works by taking a series of images and linking them together to create movements that would typically be too difficult or time-consuming to do by hand.

Types of Animation Software

These can be categorized mainly into 4 different types of software used for diverse purposes.

3D Computerized Animation

3D animations help to design any object, props, or character to make them real. Although 3d animations have limited use in creating video game characters, animated films, and TV shows, their demand has grown alongside.

Traditional Animation

Traditional or classical animation is a technique in which each frame is drawn by hand on a physical medium. The method was the dominant form of animation in cinema until the advent of computer animation.

2D Vector-based Animation

2D vector animation is a digital visual art form. Vector graphics are computer image that contains information on lines and curves instead of pixels. That means that a vector graphic is infinitely scalable without loss of quality.

Stop Motion Animation

It is a technique used to physically manipulate an object, stop the Motion, take a picture, and repeat the process. In other words, you move something a little bit, take a picture of it there, move it again, take another shot, and repeat the process until you’ve captured your desired result.

Usage of Animation Software

These helps in bringing your idea to take perfect shape on the screen. This software covers all your needs, whether you want to animate a film, video game character, or a personal animated cartoon.

There is plenty of software and tools to enhance your skills with premium or free versions to practice.

3D Animated Software

Uses types:
Movies (Toy Story, Frozen, etc..), 3D engineering animations, 3D animated advertisements, and many more.
– Autodesk Maya
– Blender
– Cinema 4D (Maxon)
– 3DS Max Autodesk
– Aurora 3D Animation Maker
– Houdini
– Adobe After Effect
– Key Shot
– Eyeon Fusion
Traditional Animation Software

Uses types:
Movies, gifs,
– DigiCel Flipbook
– Pencil 2D
– Cel Action 2D
– Toon Boom Harmony
– Synfig Studio
– Open Toonz
– Moho
– ProCreate
– TV Paint Animation
– Open Toonz 
2D Vector-based Animation Software

Uses types:
Animated movies, websites, advertisements, computer games.
– Adobe Animated CC
– Adobe Character Animator
– Cartoon Animator 4
– Clip Studio Paint
Stop Motion

Uses types:
Films, cutouts, puppets, and many more.
– Boinx iStop Motion
– iKIT Movie
– Stop Motion Studio
– Dragon Frame 

#1. Adobe Animate CC

Formerly known as Adobe Flash, it is a 2D vector-based animation software used in creative applications like cartoons, elements, animated content, and many more.

Animate is pretty straightforward to learn and understand easily with a variety of vector drawing tools. The software generally exports the designs and integrates with Adobe After Effects to change the background and visual effects.

Features:

  • Create bitmaps and vector animations for websites, games, and banner advertisements.
  • Advanced features include HTML5 Canvas and WebGL mode.
  • It can integrate with Adobe Cloud Storage and Application to save your designs.

Pros:

  • It’s the most versatile program available.
  • Customer support is available in the form of forums, FAQs, Live Chat, and calls.
  • Animated video compression is very smooth.
  • It gets easily integrated with other Adobe programs.

Usage: Widely used to create website animated elements, animated videos, graphics, sounds, and TV characters.

Pricing: It is available with Adobe Creative Clouds at $32.22 per month.

#2. Maya Autodesk

One of the best choices for any professional to design 3D modeling and animation in Autodesk Maya. Maya uses nonlinear tracks to blend & mix clips using a comprehensive suite of tools.

Users can integrate the software with other applications to enhance productivity and functionality. It’s easier for users to model, texture, render, run, and simulate using MEL.

Features:

  • Maya Embedded helps developers to customize scripts and macros.
  • Maya dynamics help to create convincing visual simulations.
  • It exposes a node graph architecture.

Pros:

  • Fit for large studio production.
  • Extensive support from Autodesk and professionals worldwide.
  • It’s a licensed product with lesser bugs.

Usage: Widely used to create 3D animated films, TV series, video games, and visual effects.

Pricing: The price starts at $160 per month.

#3. Blender

Blender is an open-source and cross-platform 3D animated software with various software for all types of projects. Being open-source software, it requires small memory and hard drive requirements compared to other tools.

Blender uses python3 languages to write add-ons, rig characters, and many more. It has a node-based compositor to provide broad video sequencing and processing features.

Features:

  • Blender makes it easier for users to render, model, animate, video editing, VFX, texturing, rigging, simulations, textures, and game creation.
  • Advanced Path-tracer engine to achieve ultra-realistic editing and live editing.

Pros:

  • Open-Source Platform
  • It includes inverse kinematics, grid strains, load vertices, and static & dynamic particles.

Usage: Animated films, visual effects, 3D printed models, motion graphics, computer games, and virtual reality.

Pricing: Free.

#4. DigiCel FlipBook

Digicel FlipBook is one of the most accessible 2D animation software on the market. The program allows you to create traditional frame-by-frame clip designs.

You can draw directly onto the software or scan your paper drawings – it’s entirely up to your personal preferences! The software also allows you to create stop motion animations if that’s what you are looking for.

The powerful tools and dynamic aspects cater to both professionals and beginners.

Features:

  • Allow users to add horizontal and vertical time frames.
  • You can work on single or multiple time frames at the same time.
  • Use toolbars like pan, zoom, rotate, blur, dissolve, and many more to create your unique visuals.
  • Lip Sync XSheet makes syncing syllables incredibly easy.

Pros:

  • It can hold up to 1500 frames at a time.
  • Pencil tools can be adjusted in terms of size as per your requirement.

Usage: 2D Animated movies, traditional hand-drawn animated designs, and many more.

Pricing: Free use with watermark.

#5. Autodesk 3ds

Autodesk 3ds is a web-based cartoon animation software featuring various toolsets to design high-quality graphic games and architecture with ease.

The software can render high-quality, detailed real-life characters, add material finishes on surfaces, change colors and VFX, and many more. With the rich 3d library, you get access to comprehensive templates, effects, and textures.

Features:

  • Varieties of project planning tools like font-related, graphical analysis, integrated pipeline tools, and many more.
  • Create simulated real-life scenes such as flowing liquid, moving gas, and static solids.
  • Advance rendering tools to convert lights, materials, and other elements from one rendition to another.

Pros:

  • Good shading and lighting effects.
  • Open, attractive, and straightforward interface.

Usage: Tools used by professionals like architects, engineers, and game developers.

Pricing: $1300 per year.

#6. Moho

Moho is a 2D animation program that creates reusable rigs with high control over the characters. The vector rigged characters are easy to set up, and the smart tools make it easy to create complex rigs.

It focuses more on vector drawing while limiting the options of hand-drawn animation. The revolutionary tools are combined to provide an easy interface and make your character look professional.

Features:

  • Wide Variety of rigging tools.
  • Smart bone system to make complex rigs simple.
  • Add shadows and color modifications.

Pros:

  • Reusable characters
  • Huge Content Library
  • Powerful rigging tools

Usage: TV shows, Web Series, and video games

Pricing: $59.99 one-time purchase.

#7. Cinema 4D

Cinema 4d is a 3d modeling, animation, simulation, and rendering software ideal for animators from beginners to pros. It includes the functionality to browse and obtain materials and assets within the scene quickly.

The node-based XPresso editor allows it to animate without keyframes or Python quickly. Advance features like Motion Clips help to design libraries and blend them.

Features:

  • Integrate Scene Management Module to create geometrical shapes.
  • Quaternion tags, Cappuccino, and Auto-redraw for dynamic kinematics.
  • Powerslider, Animation dot, Dope Sheet, F-curve, and Motion clips.

Pros:

  • Support integration with third-party software.
  • Customizable layout

Usage: Motion graphics, AR/MR/VR, game developments, and visualization professionals.

Pricing: Basic plan starts at $855.52 per year. 

#8. Aurora 3D Animation Maker

With a minimal timeline interface, Aurora helps design and craft by converting simple texts and logos into exciting 3d animated designs.

The software is pretty straightforward to use, but sometimes the variety of tools might confuse a beginner.

Features:

  • In-house Pre-sets.
  • Quick Styling tools
  • Export project in video or image format.

Pros:

  • Built-in tools to create and edit formats
  • Extensive graphic library of shapes
  • Dynamic background

Usage: 3d Logos and texts.

Pricing: $69.95 one-time purchase.

#9. Houdini

Houdini offers a procedural workflow to generate animation in real-time. It helps to stimulate things like smoke, fire, hair, water, and clothing with excellent advanced tools.

The node-based workflow allows animators to create dynamic and realistic effects. Every node action can be rearranged and adjusted, which provides flexibility and cost-effectiveness to the final product.

Features:

  • In-built VFX plugins
  • Node-based workflow
  • Houdini engine allows to use it with any other software like Maya, Cinema 4d, Unity, and Unreal.

Pros:

  • Intuitive and Easy-to-use
  • Powerful and Robust tools

Usage: Bug budget films, video games, commercials.

Pricing: Free for non-commercial projects

#10. Cel Action

Cel Action creates impressive 2d animations, character models; rig them using vectors/bitmaps so that you can reuse them. It helps to handle multiple layers with ease.

Along with character models, the movement of characters can be automatically in-between, making it faster to complete your project. The ergonomic handle and definable user workspace make it one of the best software for beginners.

Features:

  • 60+ Effects to create dynamic animated videos.
  • Advanced syncing technology to manage all animated scenes.
  • Auto-Scrubbing features and multiple audio tracks.

Pros:

  • Real-time preview.
  • Export files in PDF and Animatic format.
  • Three versions are available: Student, Professional, and Educational.

Usage: Films, ad commercials, and TV serials.

Pricing: $71 per month.

#11. Toon Boom Harmony

One of the leading 2D professional software of the category. It helps you create any kind of animation, from traditional to cut-out.

Harmony offers bitmap drawing and painting tools, which are expensive versions, and beginners can find it challenging to use tools. The robust rigging tools make it easier with bones to create animatable puppets.

Features:

  • Advanced features and Nodal composition system.
  • Multi-plane environment with 3D stage.
  • Scanning and cleaning up paper drawings.

Pros:

  • A toolset for traditional frame-by-frame animation.
  • Different camera angles and control over the composition.
  • Easy export to game engines.

Usage: TV shows, films, games.

Pricing: 16 euros per month.

#12. Adobe Character Animator

Adobe Character Animator helps you create character animation using your laptop/computer’s webcam to mimic expressions and movements in real-time.

You just need to choose a character (a puppet) from their library, use your computer’s mic and webcam to detect expressions and movements of your character. You can also add facial expressions, hand movements, and many more.

The pre-defined functions and tools can help you make the character move, walk, hold objects, and many more.

Features:

  • Automatic lip-syncing and facial expressions
  • Real-time animation with live streaming
  • In-app puppet libraries.

Pros:

  • Streamline recording and editing
  • Facial tracking with auto-syncing of audio and visuals.

Usage: Perfect for online education, game streaming, live chat, and more.

Pricing: 7 days’ free trial | $52.99 monthly bill

#13. Adobe After Effects

After Effects integrates with Adobe Creative Cloud to bring your animations to look more realistic and engaging. It is a powerful tool to design 2d and 3d real-life animations.

The software helps to create modern graphic motions mixing them with reality and the imaginary world. You can easily manipulate different layers, visual effects, and kinetic typography.

Features:

  • Use JSON files to compost moveable graphics, characters, and sliders.
  • Built-in to customize green screen effects to make the background look more accurate and sharp.
  • Key frames to adjust motions of character and graphics.

Pros:

  • Top-notch customer support.
  • More Visual Effect program.

Usage: TV animations, film video productions, 3d texts, and web elements.

Pricing: $1300 per year.

#14. ProCreate

Procreate is a cloud-based animation tool for iPads. It helps create professional sketches and illustrations with animations studio, brush studio, graphic engine, and a colors panel.

Procreate allows importing fonts for typography along with 190 in-built types. You can sketch out animatic, looping GIFs, but it does not support vector objects.

It allows frame-by-frame animation using Animation assistance. Similar to Adobe Illustrator, it also supports CMYK and RGB colors profiles.

Features:

  • Assists in making design accessible and straightforward.
  • Brush studio to use existing brushed or create a new one.
  • Color panel to choose from numerous colors.
  • Onion skins to see animation layers.

Pros:

  • Create GIFs
  • Numerous options and styles

Usage:  Create GIFs, illustrations, film posters, 3D painting, and many more.

Pricing: $9.99

#15. Cartoon Animator 4D

Cartoon Animator 4d excels at 2D, puppet style, character animation, and 2d motion graphics. It allows you to animate with pre-made characters or content that you can directly get access to or now purchase through a link.

It is easier to use, build custom characters, and you can even redraw your existing content in the library. Its new G3 free bone character rigs create top-class character templates for humans, dogs, horses, etc.

Features:

  • Tools like rigging and bone tools.
  • Tools for animating characters include elastic and bouncy curve editing, facial free form deformation, audio lip-syncing.
  • Library of pre-made character templates and motion templates.

Pros:

  • 4K Video support
  • Easy to import and export PSD files
  • Live facial Motion

Usage: 3D modelling, simulation, and rendering solutions.

Pricing: Free 30 days’ trial | $99

#16. TV Paint

TV paint is one of the best digital versions of the traditional 2D animation process. It provides the best feel of hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation.

It can be a little hectic to learn as a beginner and require some guidance to get a hand on the workflow. The main feature is its bitmap drawing tool to provide quality of drawing. The painting engine offers a similar effect for Photoshop or Procreate.

Features:

  • Excellent tools for frame-by-frame creation.
  • Completely focused on hand-drawn designs.
  • Dedicated storyboarding and animation tools

Pros:

  • Storyboard and animatic tools
  • CTG layers
  • Warp tool
  • Blend modes

Usage: Films and animated short films

Pricing: $585.5 one-time purchase

#17. Boinx iStop Motion

The best thing about iStop Motion is a quick stop motion video that runs you through all the features of the app. iStop Motion is also for iPad only.

There are plenty of keyboard shortcuts to make it easier to design your animation and make workflow faster. The onion skinning feature helps you see your work, and Marker allows you to plot events on the timeline.

One of the unique features is recording in multiple camera angles.

Features:

  • White balance can be locked or unlocked.
  • Record in a single frame or time-lapse mode.

Pros:

  • Interface and easiness to use.
  • Playback speed can be adjusted between 1 to 30 frames per second.

Usage: Time-lapse movies and stop motion animations.

Pricing: $9.99

#18. iKIT Movie

iKIT Movie is a single piece of software for LEGO stop motion animation. It is the most popular animation software for schools and amateurs worldwide.

iKIT Movie contains 2,200 sound effects within it, so you don’t have to search the Internet for the sound you need. There are no other animation programs available with this feature.

Features:

  • Green Screen Feature
  • Add different sounds such as animals, weather, vehicles, aircraft, etc.

Pros:

  • Run smoothly on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 10.
  • Easy to use for beginners.

Usage: LEGO animations

Pricing: $69

#19. Clip Studio

Clip Studio is one of the best painting and illustration software. It helps quickly to adjust the size and position of an image. The paint tool also helps to create various shapes of the drawing and convert them into helpful animation.

It has in-built artificial intelligence technology to help you color your paintings and animations. It can also handle unlimited layers without any restrictions.

Features:

  • Customizable 3D references
  • Customize brushes and pens
  • 3D pose creation

Pros:

  • Vector Layers
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Multiple brushes

Usage: Artwork, logos, flyers, screen savers, icons, and many others.

Pricing: Free Trial | $49.99

#20. Stop Motion Studio

Stop Motion Studio is designed especially for beginners and is available for Windows, Android, macOS, iPhone, and iPad. It is the most accessible software available as per the developers and helps to mix 4k stop motion animations with 2D style drawings.

The super handy features with frame-by-frame editor come with essential tools like the grid, overlay, frame, positioning, fade, and frame-by-frame preview.

Features:

  • Manual or Automatic Control of focus
  • Green screen option and background library
  • Paint tools, sound effects, magic eraser, and many other handy tools.

Pros:

  • Runs on many platforms
  • DSLR camera support
  • Options to import images, audio, and video files.
  • Grid and Onion skinning

Usage: Artistic, Commercial, and Short films.

Pricing:

  • Android, iPhone, and iPad: $4.99
  • Mac and Windows: $9.99

#21. Dragon Frame

Dragon frame is a stop-motion software that allows you to produce unique pictures. It has an onscreen host of instruments that can help you animate your project.

The software will allow you to capture accurate movements, compose the perfect shot, and edit images with advanced camera scanning tools.

Features:

  • Colour Swatches by high-resolution images.
  • Import and edit audio tracks.
  • Illumination program & control your lights.

Pros:

  • In-built control option.
  • Maintain Synchronization of audio by tracking.

Usage: Stop motion animation and time-lapse photography

Pricing: $295

#22. Pencil 2D

Pencil 2D is more into traditional hand-drawn animation. It is an open-source platform and cross-platform software so that multipurpose users can contribute to its capabilities and features.

It provides minimal UI design to focus on your essential work of animation. You can easily switch between two artworks that are raster and vector graphics.

Features:

  • Supports raster and vector images
  • Handy tools, distortion & light effects
  • Import/ export as a GIF

Pros:

  • Simple User interface
  • Customizable toolbar
  • Layers panel for bitmaps

Usage: Cartoons, bitmap drawings, and managing vector.

Pricing: Free

#23. Synfig Studio

Another open-source software, Synfig Studio, is a more robust tool, offering advanced control options to create character puppets and other dynamic structures.

It works as an alternative for the flash to design vectors and complete control of editing them with 50 layers at a one time and options of various layers like geometric, filters, distortions, transformations, and fractals.

Features:

  • Full-control on vector editing
  • Control over characters using a bone system
  • Advanced control for creating character puppets and dynamic structures.

Pros:

  • Control over 50 layers at a time
  • Full-featured bone system

Usage: File-quality animations

Pricing: $5

#24. Key Shot

Key Shot is a program that you can use to develop 3D renderings. It offers some key advantages, such as real-time tracking and a global illumination program to create 3D renderings.

The user can create special effects and real-time rendering on their ordinary computers with the CPU-based architecture of this Key Shot software.

Features:

  • The rendering tool is easy to use, efficient, and of the best quality.
  • Different programs for every designer.

Pros:

  • It saves a great time without compromising on the quality.
  • Visualization results before finalizing the results.

Usage: 3D rendering and interactive visuals.

Pricing: $995

#25. Open Toonz

An award-winning 2D animated cartoon software application is an actual animation that utilizes Flash Scripting language. The feature-rich and intuitive user interface with powerful editing tools and generating backgrounds.

One of the best features is colors design tools to make perfect effects like shadows, gradients, or simple colors. It comes with a complete 2D animation engine to import video clips and create animated movies of any type.

Features:

  • Clipping Mask to create special effects
  • Plugin API
  • Feature tracking system
  • Layer management
  • 9 Unique brush engines

Pros:

  • Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux OS
  • More customized brushes and snap-free animation tools.
  • Best for experienced professionals

Usage: 2D animations for commercial and non-commercial projects.

Pricing: Free

#26. Nuke Studio

Nuke is a node-based composition system for visual effects. It offers a formidable toolset for all the VFX and animation projects—the robust composition tool and an editorial timeline help manage all your projects in a suite easily.

The suite is integrated with the broader VFX team, ensuring the team is working on the final projects.

Features:

  • Multishot management
  • Creative 3D modeling, texturing and rendering.
  • High-resolution, digital 3D painting, and look development

Pros:

  • Works on all OS
  • Works on the heavy shot without any issues
  • Easy to navigate

Usage: Films and television post-production.

Pricing: $5248 permanent license with a 1-year maintenance plan.

#27. Eyeon Fusion/ Blackmagic Fusion

Fusion is one of the best software among the 3D composition and rendering solutions. The standard window layout has a couple of views to build your node schematic and control the selected node. This helps to view the effects before and after the node quickly.

Unlike other tools, Fusion doesn’t include 3D tracking, but the 2D tracker works very well.

Features:

  • Generation tool to manage multiple artists, asset tracking, versioning, and task assignment.
  • Avid plugin to integrate Fusion with Avid timeline.
  • Optical flow to change speed
  • Time speed and Time stretcher tools

Pros:

  • Virtual reality
  • Motion graphics
  • Clean and easy to understand interface
  • Sculpt modeling workbench

Usage: To create visual effects, TV shows, commercials, and composition work for movies.

Pricing: Free | $295

Wrapping up

In this review, we’ve covered the best animation software and tools available. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there is something here for everyone! If you have any questions about which program to choose or how to make your next animation stand out from the rest, please leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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