Top 15 Best Animation Programs To Learn [Free and Paid]

Animation software turns a soulless image or collection of pictures into a coherent story. This is beneficial for audience engagement. After all, to be honest, everyone loves cartoons, both children and adults. But to master professional software like AfterEffects or Maya, you need an artist’s talent and 10 years of training.

Do not rush to despair! We have been in this game for over 10 years and we know for sure that in order to “assemble an inexpensive short video”, “animate a banner or a button”, it is not necessary to devote half of our life to animation. It is enough to choose the right software. Or maybe you will even discover the talent of a serious motion designer?

So, simple commercial or personal animation tasks are solved using:

Software License
Stop Motion Studio Trial/Paid
Cartoon animator 4 Trial/Paid
Moho Anime Studio Debut Trial/Paid
DigiCel FlipBook Trial/Paid
Toon boom harmony Trial/Paid
Adobe animate Trial/Paid
Blender Free
Pencil2D Free
Wideo Trial/Paid
Easy GIF animator Trial/Paid
Synfig Studio Free
Animaker Trial/Paid
Explaindio Trial/Paid
Pivot Stickfigure Animator Free
CrazyTalk Trial/Paid

Stop Motion Studio

The perfect choice for the absolute beginner in video production. The program is indecently easy to learn, even a fifth grader can figure it out. With its help, you can create funny videos in the style of stop motion, when the animation and movement of objects is built from sequential frames. Can be used both on a computer and on a phone or tablet. Knows how to create videos not only from photos, but also from drawings.

What’s cool:

  • Intuitive interface with many possibilities.
  • You can make videos in Ultra HD 4K.
  • Manual or automatic control of focus, exposure, ISO and white balance.
  • Possibility to connect a second camera as a remote device.
  • Friends with SLR cameras.
  • Supports Onion Skinning.
  • You can add music and visuals.

How much is:

  • $ 4.99 for Mac and iOS
  • $ 4.99 for Android
  • $ 1.99 for Windows

Cartoon animator 4

Animation software is suitable for both beginners and experienced. First, select a 2D character from the huge library and customize it as you see fit. Then, in the editor, you can “animate” the character by choosing from numerous motion templates. In addition to the simplest animation “the little man walks, runs, jumps, waves his hand,” you control his facial expressions, lip movements, etc. There are a great many points and trajectories of movement.

Perhaps this is the best tool for a beginner to feel like a professional animator.

What’s cool:

  • Huge library of ready-made characters and motion templates.
  • The character’s limbs are “elastic”. They can be bent at any point and at any angle.
  • You can quickly “overtake” a PSD image into a character template.
  • You can manipulate the muscles of the face and lips of the character, creating emotion or a conversation effect.
  • Friends with SLR cameras.
  • Supports most video and still image formats.

How much is:

  • 30 days free trial period
  • $ 99 Pro Edition
  • $ 199 Pipeline Edition

Moho Anime Studio Debut

Going to market, Moho Anime Studio Debut was positioned as a revolutionary program, thanks to which even children can create cool animations. A symbiosis of advanced functionality and a simple, intuitive interface. And in general, the developers kept their promise.

At Moho Anime Studio Debut everything is great except for the price. Giving $ 100 to try animation software is a pretty expensive hobby. A more advanced version of Anime Studio Debut will cost more than 25,000 rubles.

But just look at this luxurious functionality!

What’s cool:

  • Graphics tablet support.
  • The character’s limbs are “elastic”. They can be bent at any point and at any angle.
  • An unprecedented number of trajectories of movement and limb flexion for an amateur program.
  • Animated effects for layers and shapes.
  • The set of tools and functions is almost as good as professional programs.

How much is:

  • 30 days free trial period
  • $ 100 Debut
  • $ 400 Pro

DigiCel FlipBook

Simple and tasteful winner. This program makes it clear how 2D animation was created in the days of Walt Disney. The interface resembles the classic Paint, with the only difference that the drawn images can be “brought to life”. A find for those who love hand-drawn cartoon animation from childhood.

What’s cool:

  • Draw directly in the program or scan your drawing by hand and make it move.
  • Supports Lip sync (character opens his mouth to the beat of the text or song).
  • Allows you to work on several frames at the same time.
  • Connected and disconnected add. functions for a fee.
  • Available for Mac and iOS.
  • You can use it for free if you don’t mind watermarks.

How much is:

  • Free with watermark
  • $ 19.99 FlipBook Lite
  • $ 69.99 FlipBook Studio
  • $ 169.99 FlipBook Pro
  • $ 199.99 FlipBook ProHD

Toon boom harmony

Canadian animation software for hardcore professionals. One of the most powerful software in the collection. Formally – for amateurs, in fact – it is not inferior to professional programs. It was with her help that the cult cartoon Space Jam was created, the same one where Michael Jordan plays basketball with the characters from the animated series “Funny Melodies”. Toon Boom Harmony is a favorite for Disney animators, Warner Bros. and smaller studios.

The program has the most powerful functionality. It can take up to several hours to process just one frame, but the result is worth it. Allows you to create any type of animation, from classic hand-drawn to a combination of 2D and 3D. Everything you need to create animations at a great price.

What’s cool:

  • Works on Windows and MacOS.
  • Advanced technology for creating raster and vector images.
  • A wide range of tools for managing textures and colors.
  • Multiple camera angles to control composition.
  • Compatible with all formats and programs including PDF and Illustrator.
  • Images are easily exported to game engines.

How much is:

  • Free with watermark
  • 21 days free trial period
  • € 400 or € 16 per month (with annual subscription): Harmony Essentials
  • € 1030 or € 41 per month (with annual subscription): Harmony Advanced
  • € 2085 or € 78 per month (with annual subscription): Harmony Premium

Adobe animate

As with any Adobe product, this animation software is built on the principle of “high flexibility, high barriers to entry”. It is not beginner friendly, but an experienced web designer will allow you to create a unique 2D animation from scratch in a few minutes . Suitable for creating banners, cartoons, animations for games and animating infographics. The resulting content can be quickly downloaded to any device and platform.

What’s cool:

  • Works on Windows and Mac OS.
  • Allows you to draw, animate a picture from scratch and process uploaded images.
  • There is a Russian language.
  • Dozens of templates included.
  • Adjust the frame rate.
  • Export to Full HD and 4K.
  • Easy synchronization with other Adobe products.

How much is:

For the individual user

  • RUR 1,352 per month for Adobe Animate only
  • 1932r per month for the entire Adobe Creative cloud package

For business

  • RUR 2190 / month only for Adobe Animate
  • RUB 5,154 per month for the entire Adobe Creative cloud package

Blender

Open Source program for creating 3D animation with a wide range of tools. Suitable for animators, game makers, model makers and renderers. Blender’s capabilities may seem limited to professionals, but novice animators will have a place to roam.

What’s cool:

  • Available on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • Is free!
  • Advanced tools for modeling, sculpting and UV.
  • You can watch a preview of your project in real time.
  • You can draw in 2D in a 3D window.

Pencil2D

If you gravitate towards good old 2D animation, based on freehand pencil drawings, Pencil 2D has every chance of becoming your favorite program. Pencil 2D allows you to draw images in raster and vector. It’s convenient, easy and free!

What’s cool:

  • Works on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux.
  • Everything is so simple that you can figure it out on your own without training courses.
  • Export and import of GIFs are supported.

Wideo

An online service for creating animation that is perfect for both enthusiasts and commercial tasks. With Wideo, you can create simple animations for any type of video: explainers, infographics, presentations, classic ads, etc.

The program works like a constructor. Select an object from the library, specify the trajectory by dragging the object with the mouse and watch the picture “come to life”. Add sounds, music and text as you see fit.

What’s cool:

  • Doesn’t require drawing skills at all.
  • You can work online.
  • Supports HD and FullHD.
  • You can add music.
  • You can upload the resulting video to YouTube directly from the software.

How much is:

  • $ 19 per month (with annual subscription): Basic
  • $ 39 per month (with annual subscription): Pro
  • $ 79 per month (with annual subscription): Enterprise

Easy GIF animator

As the name suggests, this is a downloadable utility that allows you to quickly and easily create animated GIFs from pictures. With its help, you can make simple banners, buttons and other little joys of an internet marketer.

To understand the interface of the program for creating animation Easy GIF animator is no more difficult than in Windows Paint. Even a student will need a quick glance to understand the basic principles of work.

At the same time, the functionality of the program cannot be called scanty. It has a good arsenal of special effects, the ability to add text and music, adjust the intervals for changing the picture and make beautiful smooth transitions. Easy GIF animator saves the result in AVI, GIF or Flash.

What’s cool:

  • The best software on the market for creating GIFs in terms of price / quality ratio.
  • A wide arsenal of tools with a low threshold of entry.
  • Allows you to create GIFs from static images and videos.
  • You can download your own images and pictures from the Internet.

How much is:

  • Free first 20 entries
  • $ 30 lump sum

Synfig Studio

Free open-source 2D animation maker. Experts like to call Synfig a free alternative to Adobe Flash. The functionality of the program is enough to make full-fledged children’s cartoons.

Here you will have both “bone” animation, and the ability to distill a raster image into a vector, and 50+ filters and effects. It will be difficult to figure out the interface right away, but there is a free training course in Russian right on the site. The downside is not very convenient video export mechanics. And the program is also demanding on RAM.

What’s cool:

  • Is free.
  • Works on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux.
  • Constantly updated and improved.
  • Friends with the Russian language.

Animaker

We’ve already talked about Animaker in our selection of the best infographic creation services. But this versatile soldier is good for both creation and 2D animation with characters. Especially good if you can’t draw and are not strong in English.

Animaker works like a constructor. You can choose from over 120 templates conveniently grouped by education, business, travel, etc. Then load it into an intuitive ribbon editor and make the necessary adjustments. Add text, music, simple effects. You can even pull up pictures from the Internet. The result can be exported directly from the service to YouTube or Facebook.

To add more character templates, effects and other options, you will have to connect paid plans. The “Business” tariff allows you to create videos up to 30 minutes long in Full HD.

What’s cool:

  • No need to download.
  • You don’t have to be able to draw.
  • Newbie friendly interface.
  • To create the simplest videos, the free version is enough for up to 2 minutes.
  • There is a Russian language.

How much is:

  • $ 19 per month or $ 12 per month (with annual subscription): Individual
  • $ 35 or $ 19 per month (with annual subscription): Startup
  • $ 59 or $ 39 per month (with annual subscription): Business
  • Has an annual subscription for $ 99

Explaindio

Another program for creating simple animations that is suitable for people with no experience in video design. He is able to create 2D animation, doodle videos and even simple 3D. In the advanced version, it is possible to customize the movement of characters along the trajectories (simple movements, turn).

What’s cool:

  • Works on Windows and Mac OS.
  • No experience in design or animation needed.
  • There is a Russian language.
  • Knows how to create doodle videos.
  • Over 200 pre-animated scenes.
  • There is a detailed step-by-step tutorial.
  • There are no restrictions on video creation and export.
  • You don’t need to pay extra for updates and new features.

How much is:

  • $ 37 per month
  • $ 67 per year
  • $ 497 forever

Pivot Stickfigure Animator

A fun and easy-to-learn animation program that allows you to draw stick figures and then animate them by specifying the trajectories of movement. If you wish, you can add or upload more images or text. There is a little crooked Russian translation, but the program is so easy to learn that you can even figure it out in Chinese.

What’s cool:

  • Original.
  • Fascinatingly.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Is free.

CrazyTalk

Another fun utility that will allow you to create a simple 3D animation, even with your loved one in the lead role. No design skills required. Just upload a face image, be it a photo or a picture, adjust the effects and watch the head move and talk on the screen.

What’s cool:

  • Support for 2D and 3D graphics.
  • Built-in speech synthesizer.
  • The presence of scripts.

How much is:

  • Free period for 15 days
  • Standard license – $ 59
  • Professional license – $ 169
  • Production license – $ 199

BONUS for those who scrolled to the end!

Xplainto.me

Domestic application for iOS for creating animated doodle videos no more than a minute long. Coming up with text, dubbing it, adding music, choosing an image for each scene and watching the magic happen.

What’s cool:

  • Russian development.
  • Suitable for both fan and commercial use.
  • Is free.

What else is important to understand

These programs, services and applications for creating animation should be enough to try your hand and understand how “yours” it is.

If after a couple of hours of tinkering with any of the programs, you do not want to spit and quit everything, congratulations, you have potential! Practice every day, watch tutorial videos and soon you will be able to create simple animation at the amateur level.

Then, you can move on to more “mature” programs for creating animation, such as Adobe After Effects, Adobe Illustrator or Cinema4D.

The second important point is that almost all software for creating animation is in English. I think you already figured it out yourself. It’s the same with the most detailed and helpful animation tutorials. Make sure to know at least an intermediate level of English. Otherwise, in the world of computer graphics, animation and motion design, you will have a difficult time. But this is a magical enchanting world and it is worth a little effort.

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