Animation is one of the most prominent visual art forms of the modern era. An animator needs to understand the composition of motion and rendering tools as animation requires a profound knowledge about 2D and 3D models. The main point is to convey the message and have the aptitude to tell stories.
In this article, we offer you an overview of the 3D animation programs available in the market. In case you are more inclined to traditional programs, we have included 2D animation programs.
Here is a compilation of 15 best free options of animation software programs, including 2D animations for Windows and MAC.
Best Free Animation Software for PC
Nowadays most animation software is compatible with multiple devices. PCs, with operating systems such as Windows and Linux, are compatible with most of the best animation software. Here are some of the animation software solutions that are compatible with PCs.
Blender is a free and open-source software used for 3D animation. It consists of all the main tools required for 3D animation, i.e., modelling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, motion tracking, and video editing. It also provides options for 2D animation pipeline.
Blender includes object tracking features as well as tools for panning, tracking tilting and rotating the camera to 360 degrees. Moreover, it provides a Python API so that animators can seamlessly customize their UI for easy navigation while working on projects.
Blender has been created in such a manner that both beginners and expert animators can work on it effortlessly.
- High-end production path tracer for realistic rendering
- Designed for powerful animation
- Industry-standard realistic simulation
- Customizable user interface.
- Blender is apt for animation and has quality rigging, skinning, fluid simulation, smoke simulation, particle simulation, soft body simulation, and match moving features
- Video editing and composition are also be performed seamlessly in Blender
- Develop video games, especially with the help of Blender’s integrated game engine
- Perhaps one of the biggest pros of Blender is its addons: this software is seamlessly customizable.
- With so many incredible features, Blender can sometimes be overwhelming
- Like other advanced animation software, it takes some learning and training when it comes to getting the hang of Blender.
Pricing: Blender is a free and open source software.
Platforms: Windows, macOS X.
Powtoon is a web-based animation video and presentation software, which provides animators a cloud-based platform on which they can create animations for several different purposes such as online advertisements, presentations, informative videos, video guides, tutorials, and manuals.
The software has a user-friendly interface with the help of which animations can be created and shared easily. It also provides features to create, save, and share animated videos with the help of Google Drive. Powtoon provides various presets and tools such as clips, images, voice-overs, soundtracks, and sound effects to assist animators in different projects.
- Download completed videos as MP4
- Privacy Control
- 24x7 Priority Support
- Commercial Use Rights
- Third-Party Resell Rights
- Upload Custom Fonts
- Advanced Animation
- Royalty-Free Libraries
- Easy to use
- Produces very professional looking videos.
- Excellent tool for presentations, automatic storage, easy handling
- Easy to use
- A lot of tools and features available.
- The free version can be updated to include new features
- Interface can be worked upon further
Pricing: Powtoon pricing has a free plan and four paid yearly subscription options: Starter at about₹1135 per month, Pro at about ₹1348 per month, Pro+ at about ₹4186 per month, and Agency at about ₹7025 per month.
Platforms: Windows, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-based
This is one of the most exciting 3D animation software available on Steam game engine. It lets animators create a movie inside the game engine. This free animation software uses all the different assets present in the game. So that the assets of the game can be configured by SFM in the movie and vice versa.
- Instant rendering and preview
- Completely free to download
- Manages entire workflow needed to make a movie into one single system
- Virtual movie set with lighting, characters, props and cameras
- Easier to learn
- Effects and lighting are already there and easy to set up
- Has a steam workshop
- Software needs to be updated as it is based on the source engine
- Since it is a 32-bit application, it is prone to crashes
- Effects, maps, props and characters are of low-resolution
- Limited support and online guides
Pricing: It’s absolutely free
Platforms: Windows (Steam)
Autodesk Maya is one of the leading animation software in the market with industry-standard animation quality. It is often used in commercial movies to add visual effects and animation. Although Maya requires tutorials and courses, it is straightforward once the basics are mastered. Maya can be used to create animated movies, TV series, video games, and shorts.
- Bifrost for procedural effects
- Ready-to-use graphs
- Bifrost Fluids
- Interactive hair grooming
- Deep adaptive liquid simulation
- Bifrost Ocean Simulation System
- Maya nCloth
- Bullet Physics
- Cached Playback
- Maya has a free-form approach to 3D modeling: instead of using only modifiers, you can apply modeling layers.
- There are great poly tools in Maya that make organic modeling, character rigging and animation super-intuitive and practically limitless.
- It also provides Paint Effects, which lets you make 3D shapes by drawing free hand.
- Fast and seamless rendering is also one of the biggest pros in Maya.
- The dreaded learning curve of 3D. It’s here in Maya, too.
- The node editor can be cumbersome to work with at times
- Scene hierarchy needs more work.
Pricing: Maya is free for students and educators. For other animators, Maya also offers a free trial for these plans; Monthly at ₹11,065, for 1 year at ₹87,668 and for 3 years at ₹2,36,619
Platforms: Windows, macOS X, RHEL, and Fedora.
Toon Boom Harmony
Toon Boom Harmony is a user-friendly software that helps animators create art pieces, storyboards, and short animated clips. Although the software might look complex in the beginning, it provides a gamut of different tools to explore creative roads. It offers vectors as well as bitmap tools for projects.
- Revolutionary vector and bitmap drawing technology - Brush Engine
- Advanced colour palettes and paint options
- 2D and 3D integration to make professional animation
- Cut-out animation tools
- Traditional paperless animation.
- It provides a plethora of different drawing and animation tools
- Recording and audio editing is not possible
- Due to the multitude of tools and features, Toon Boom can take some time and training to get used to
- Glitches occur if your computer software is not updated enough.
Pricing: Toon Boom harmony provides 21 days free trial after which, it offers three annual plans - Harmony Essentials at about ₹925 per month, Harmony Advanced at ₹2350 per month, and Harmony Premium at ₹4330 per month.
Platforms: Windows, macOS X, Web.
Best Free Animation Software for Mac
MAC is considered to be the ideal device for animation due to its robust configuration and seamless rendering capabilities. In fact, some of the top Hollywood film production houses use MAC for their animation requirements. Here are some free animation software solutions for MAC/iOS.
K-3D is a 3D-modelling and animation software that combines built-in plugins with a visualization pipeline architecture to provide a flexible yet powerful platform for animation artists. This free animation software allows users to create unique combinations in their work.
K-3D offers several features to make an artist’s work as easy as possible.
- An advanced undo/redo function
- Properties that can be adjusted interactively
- A node-based visualization pipeline.
- It provides a robust pipeline architecture
- Provides a plethora of inbuilt plug-ins
- UI can be improved upon
- New updates would enhance the experience.
Platforms: Windows, macOS, source code (for developers)
VideoScribe by Sparkol
VideoScribe by Sparkol is one of the best whiteboard animation software programs available in the market. VideoScribe offers users efficient tools to create, upload, and edit videos with the help of its cloud-based services that can be accessed from anywhere.
- Premium images
- Import music & fonts
- Work offline
- Save project online
- Record voice-overs
- Image library
- Publish to web
- Video resolution options
- Royalty-free music collection
- Every option gives you access to the full program
- Option to purchase the program outright
- Simple five-step interface with many DIY features
- Unlimited downloads, hosting, and creation
- Extensive library of audio and visual elements including soundtracks
- Features are basic
- The interface is limited to whiteboard style videos drawn with a hand
- Watermark cannot be removed in the free version
Pricing: It offers a free 7-day trial, after which it offers three plans; Monthly Plan for ₹1245, Yearly Plan at about ₹570, Quarterly Plan at ₹2485
Platforms: Web-based, iOS, Android, Windows, macOS X
Biteable is one of the most user-friendly and straightforward animated video creator software that can be used for several purposes. With Biteable, animators get tools for adding colours, texts, photos and sounds in videos in a drag-and-drop template.
- Provides a specialty template for animating logos, creating high-quality presentations and slideshows with incorporated video elements
- 85,000 footage clips available in its database
- Share projects on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter
- Provides customizable branding options
- Access to its extensive media library
- Social sharing options
- Offers templates and text overlays.
- Doesn’t offer collaboration tools
- Drag & drop options aren’t available
- Lack of privacy options
- No voice-over or background score options available
Pricing and Plans:
There are two primary plans available for Biteable. The free version allows you to create five projects for monthly use. On the other hand, a premium plan is about ₹570 a month, offering the option of HD quality shares and unlimited uploads.
Platforms: Online, macOS X, Windows
KeyShot is an easy-to-use 3D animation and rendering software that allows animation artists to create from simple models to sophisticated and visually stunning projects. One of its best features is that it provides real-time 3D rendering, which displays results as soon as it is finished. This decreases the time taken to create and complete the project.
Apart from this,
KeyShot provides several other features for animation and 3D rendering.
- Tools for both 2D and 3D animation
- It comes with HDRI lighting for enhanced illumination and adjustment of an object or a scene
- Virtual camera control for the simulation of physical camera behaviour
- Dynamic virtual mapping for the simulation of real physical appearance of a site
- Focused caustics to ensure objects and scenes are suitably lit.
- Suitable for creating fast, accurate and amazing visuals.
- Featuring a real-time 3D rendering workflow
- Doesn’t provide in-built templates
Platforms: Cloud, SaaS, Web, macOS X Windows
Pricing: KeyShot is an entirely free animation software.
OpenToonz is a free and open source animation software that provides animators all the necessary tools for 2D animation. As it is open source, it lets developers and expert animators customise the software to suit their requirements.
- Scan different types of images within the product
- Produce affected incident light
- Create wavy distortion
- Change picture styles
- Provides all the necessary tools for 2D animation
- Being an open source software, it can be customised to suit the requirement of users.
- The features and terminology that OpenToonz uses can take time to learn
Platforms: Windows, mac OS X
Pricing: OpenToonz is completely free and is OpenSource
Best Free 2D Animation Software
Before 3D animation became popular commercially, due to the brilliantly executed animation in movies like Toy Story, Ice Age, and The Incredibles, the animation was usually 2D.
In fact, some of the most popular children's cartoons such as Mickey Mouse, Aladdin, Snow White, etc were made using traditional 2D animation techniques. Hence, 2D has become an integral part of animation. Given below are some of the top 2D Software Solutions.
Animaker is one of the most user-friendly free 3D animation software solutions. The best part about the software is its drag-and-drop UI. It can help animators create different types of animations with its modules extending to advertisements, manuals, and tutorial videos.
Moreover, it provides an extensive database of templates and animated objects. It isn’t limited to 3D animation but also offers tools to create 2D cartoons, infographics, and whiteboards.
It also provides
additional features with the business account, which also contains the option
to create 30-minute-long videos.
- Whiteboard video maker
- Infographic maker
- Massive library of characters and templates
- Drag-and-drop user interface
- It has a wide variety of infographics to use
- Drag-and drop interface,
- Easy to customize and navigate around
- It has ample tools for creating an animation
- Pre-designed templates make it easy to narrate storyboards to the audience.
- Sometimes, the pre-viewing makes the video lag
- Character animations could be made more varied.
Pricing: Animaker provides a free plan and three annual plans - Personal at about ₹850 per month, Startup at about ₹1350 per month and Business at about ₹2770 per month.
Platform: Cloud, SaaS, Web
Synfig Studio is a free and one of the best 2D animation software for beginners as well as seasoned animators. At present, it provides two versions for free download; the stable version and the development version. The stable version offers all the essential features required for basic projects.
On the other hand, the development version provides some state-of-the-art experimental features for those who want to try their hand at innovative tools.
- Multiple layers of content
- Creation of cut-out animations from bitmap images
- Enables addition and syncronising of narration and background score to the video.
- It offers more than 50 layers to make advanced or straightforward animation, so you don’t need to worry about its limitation though it is free to use.
- Few tutorials are available in the market to start making animation for beginners.
Compatibility: Windows, Linux, and macOS X
Pencil 2D is another open-source and free animation software which is ideal for bitmap and vector animations. Pencil 2D lets animators create their animations from scratch, with the help of pencil, brush, colour and pen tools.
One of the best features of Pencil 2D is that its user interface is intuitive and minimalistic. Anyone, whether a beginner or an expert, can easily be able to understand and implement the features and tools it provides.
- It provides useful tools such as layers, a keyframe, colours, onion skinning, workplace toolbars and panels making it an efficient suite
- Pencil 2D delivers a clean and orderly timeline layout where new frames can be created seamlessly on layers
- It enables switching of raster and vector workflows
- The software provides cross-platform compatibility.
- It offers tutorials in multiple languages, such as English, Spanish and Portuguese
- It provides a clutter-free user environment to work on
- Animators can easily switch between vector and raster workflows.
- It doesn’t provide a shape tool through which animators can draw shapes.
Compatibility: Windows, Linux, and macOS X
Free Animation Software for Android
Animation has even transcended to smartphone devices. Today there are a number of android animation application software solutions available, with the help of which, users can create simple animated sequences. Here are some of the best animation software for Android:
Toontastic is one of the top animation software applications designed by Google for Android and iOS users. It is a useful application that allows users to draw and animate on their mobile devices with ease. Its user-friendly interface lets animators provide motion to the characters and objects to tell a story.
- 3D drawing tools for designing characters
- Photos and custom characters
- Soundtrack with dozens of built-in songs
- Three Story Arcs for digital storytelling (Short Story, Classic, & Science Report)
- Video sharing option of photo library to share with family and friends
- It is FREE and easy to use
- Encourages imaginative play
- App is exciting, engaging and motivating for elementary age children
- Allows to share story online
- Unlimited choices to animate
- Hard to record in groups
- Mood music overpowers character’s voices
- No pre-planning or brainstorming prior to creating story. Animating the characters and editing needs performance, some may find it difficult
- No text tools provided.
Pricing: It is free and easy-to use
Platforms: Android and iOS
Animation Desk is another application that enables animators to create cartoons and animated stories on smartphones. It is a user-friendly software application where users can seamlessly create animation videos from scratch. It lets animators create artificially rendered graphics videos, PSD layers.
One of its best features of this app is to allow the import external clips and photos to your project as a layer layered form.
- More than 45 different brushes help to make unique animation in various forms.
- Lets users turn drawings into animations on their iPads
- Specially designed keeping students and amateurs in mind
- Supports four frame rates (or FPS, frames-per-second) from 3FPS to 24FPS and includes pre-loaded dynamic or static backgrounds
- Optimized for use with Adonit, Ten One Design, and Hex3 styluses.
Platforms: Apart from Android, it is also available on iOS, Mac, and Windows
Q. What is animation?
Animation can be defined as an illusionary effect of motion, that is produced with the help of sketches, images and shift in poses. These images (known as frames) are strung together and changed in succession at an extremely fast pace so that our eyes perceive it as a continuous scene.
Q. What is animation software?
Animation software enables artists to create scenes, frame-by-frame, with the help of still images. It is then strung together by the software to create an effect of transitory motion. While traditional animators draw each sketch frame-by-frame, modern animation uses techniques, with which, on image can be modified to transition into the next, smoothly.
Q. How many types of Animation Software are there?
There are two main types of animation software available in the market:
This type of animation software uses the 2D model. i.e. width and height for animation. In simple words, it gives an impression of a flat, sketch-like scene. This type of animation uses linear shades and shadows, rather than defined and realistic perspectives.
- 3-dimensional (3D) Software
3D animation software uses advanced techniques, where the scenes and characters are more defined and visually realistic. To put it simply, 3D animation imitates real life rather than a picture or sketch. Animations produced by a 3D animation software has defined shadows, shades and perspectives.
Q. Where is animation software used?
- In advertising
Modern advertising uses a number of different animated characters to grab the attention of the audiences. Animation can evoke desired emotions if executed properly. Audiences can be influenced by their emotions. Hence, animation is a great tool for adverts.
- Television programmes and cartoons have increased manifold in the last few decades and especially cater to the younger generation.
- Animation is also used for short films aimed at older people to tell stories that may have dramatic, comedy or satirical themes.
- With the help of 2D and 3D animation techniques, it has become easier to produce feature-length animated films and videos.
animation is used extensively in computer, smartphone, console games and video
- For education and training
Animated sequences often work well within the field of education and training, when sensitive or thought-provoking treatments of a subject are needed.
Q. Can I get free animation software online?
Yes. There are a number of free and open-source animation software online.