Shifting from paper to screen animation is a crucial step, which if taken wrong, can lead to various difficulties. When you have no idea of which software to use as a beginner, many people end up paying huge sums for the premium software which they later regret as they find it horrendous to get accustomed to these super technical software.
Below, We have prepared a list of 7 animation software, free and paid, to help you to know where you could start. Out of hundreds, if not thousands, we have prepared a lucrative list so that it profits you both economically and by saving your time. Please keep in note that no single software is for all, and according to our need we should choose apropos software. Despite how much you pay and research the software at the end is fallible.
7 Best Animation Software In 2023
1. Autodesk Maya
The software ‘Autodesk Maya’ can be used on Windows, Mac OS or Linux. No matter if you are a newbie or a master, you can always rely on this software to perform at its optimum for you. You should be surprised to know that out of much software that Disney use for animation, Autodesk Maya 3D animator is one of their favorite choices.
No doubt that Autodesk Maya is industry standard software, most of the professionals will agree to this without a second thought. The software offers a one month trial period for the exploring, and often confused beings to test it for themselves. People seldom go for any other software after this trial. Monthly, annual as well as 3 year plans are available, you can choose the one you think will work for you. Students can avail it for free.
2. Adobe Animate
Be it photo editing, video editing, anything else or animating, Adobe products are no doubt the premium – gold standard software. If you have to create 2D cartoons, then it will do wonders for you. Here, on Adobe Animate, you have vivid options to create an animation; you can choose hand-drawn, frame by frame as well as puppet animation.
Using puppet animation will save you the efforts of drawing a character over and over again as you can make the character do actions of your choice with simple clicks.You can choose to import your character from any other illustration software like procreate and others of a kind. It is a part of the Adobe Creative Cloud package but can be purchased individually also.
3. Adobe Character Animator
Adobe as stated above is a manufacturer of premium standard products and this is yet another example of it. This software is designed more specifically to assist beginners in their journey and is fully compatible with Windows and Mac OS.
The software is unchallenging and here is how it works: You choose a character (called a puppet) and it can be your creation from Adobe Illustrator, Procreator, etc. Then Adobe will use your camera and microphone to detect the inputs and animates the character accordingly.
In essence, you use your own actions to animate the character, an easy job to do. But this ease is its only limitation. As it uses our actions and voice, it is useful only till the animation is solely based on delivering dialogues and with a few hand gestures at most. You can buy it individually or with the creative cloud pack.
4. Cinema 4D
Cinema 4D is 3-dimensional i.e. 3D animation software that can be used by animators at all levels in their careers, at the nadir, and at the pinnacle. Originally it was created for Amiga only, but as Amiga is no longer in production, it is available for both Windows and Mac OS users.
You can use the software for modeling, lighting, texturing, visual effects, and more, also not to mention for animation. With an intuitive interface, it also offers and customizable layout to fit perfectly to your needs. If you are going for an annual subscription, it will cost you around 60$ per month.
5. Toon Boom Harmony
Toon Boom Harmony is one of the industry-leading animators in 2D animation. You can create animation on it either by frame to frame animation or by rig animation. Even if you prefer hand-drawn animation, this can help you with its robust and unique tools to scan the sketch and even enhance it and clean it for further animation.
The software is used by beginners, but then these beginners end up creating loved shows like ‘Sponge Bob Square Pants’. The uses of this software are limitless. And once someone starts using this, they are so in love with it that they never stop using it. Even big production companies are using it; ‘Sponge Bob Square Pant’ is just one of the few examples.
The software can be used by Windows, Mac OS, and Linux users with three different plans available. The most basic plan is as cheap as only 25$ for a month.
The first thing that I would like to mention is that it is technical and advanced animation software. Fresher in the field might face some trouble while trying to operate Houdini; hence it is recommended for people with some experience of animation software. After using it and becoming adapt to it, it can be used for industry level work and production too.
Famous feature films like ‘Frozen’ and ‘Zootopia’ were proudly animated with Houdini. To generate animations in real-time, Houdini offers a feature called procedural workflow. This feature allows users to animate highly dynamic things like smoke, clothes, fire, and others of higher and sophisticated movement.
The result of this feature is a realistic animation with an almost real depiction of how a thing works in real life.The Nodes based workflow is another honorable feature of Houdini. This feature helps users to save each action on a different node, so at the time of final production, this nodes can be easily rearranged.
Even after this many features, it is not as complex as it sounds.There are premium packages available but for students and people doing it for non-commercial purpose, it is available for free use.
7. Pencil 2D
Pencil 2D can be used on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, and is easy to use for beginners. This software is a more basic, or say traditional, software to create hand drawn animated scenes. Pencil 2D is an Open Source platform, so that means that everyone, including you, can help to grow its capabilities.
This makes it one of the best software for animation, and it is definitely free of any cost.While using this you can flawlessly switch between roaster (bit map) and vector workflows, and add endless numbers of layers.
The software is the epitome of minimalism and helps you to focus on editing better. Advanced animators might want to switch to another animator as they will require more robust tools to be present in the industry. For beginners, it is one of the best options.
Now it is high time that everyone starts working on their capabilities to stand out from the crowd, animation is one way to it. Know you know where to begin, so give a kick start to your career. Even if you are not sure of which software to use, and from where to learn, start exploring free resources and you will find your way ahead.