This selection includes 2D and free 3D animation software that is suitable for all skill levels and interests. Let’s take about free animation softwares which will surely benefit you in terms of time and money.
These days you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for the animation software you require. Internet and open-source communities have given widespeard to much more than a few outstanding free animation programs for both 2D and 3D.
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, a Windows user or a Mac user, there are plenty of animation programs to choose from: ranging from the ever-popular Blender with its rich features to the simplicity of Animation Paper.
So let’s jump right into some of the best free animation software you can find in 2021!
1. Pencil 2D The best free 2D animation software
PlatformsWindows, Mac, and Linux
The Pencil 2D, a great free 2D animation program for beginners, is excellent. This powerful tool for bitmap and vector animation is free and open-source.
It is easy to use the user interface, which allows you to create color compositions with a pencil, pen, and brush tools. Even those with no previous experience with animation programs, even complete beginners, will be able see what the software can do.
This tool has layers, a timeline with simple keyframe manipulation, onions-skinning, colors and pressure sensitivity. You can also arrange panels and workspace toolbars to suit your animation needs.
Animation professionals will love the clear, uncluttered timeline. It is easy to add key-frames to different layers, duplicate, modify the frame rate, and create animations quickly with little fuss.
Pencil 2D lives up to its name. It supports 2D animations only.
You can post a project to Freelancer to maximize Pencil 2D’s potential and see what is possible with free software. Even the most basic tools can be used by professional animators to create amazing effects.
The best thing about this animation software? It’s free!
Pros Easy to use interface, great for beginners
Cons We are missing advanced features
“Pencil2D is the easiest and most simple program to create 2D animations. This program is perfect if you rely on hand-drawn animations frame by frame for your game. It’s just not enough if you have any other needs.” – Reddit, u/xTMT
“Pencil 2D” is available for free on your PC. It has a few features but is easy to understand for those who have never used animation software.” – @GaelRice on Twitter
2. Animation Paper: The best 2D animation software
Platforms Windows, Mac and Linux (Android and iPad Pro with Pencil in the works)
This software is a follow-up to Plastic Animation Paper (PAP) 4.0.
Mac users will be pleased to know that Animation paper is now available for Windows and Mac, unlike its predecessor.
You’ll need to grab it while you can, as it’s currently in alpha. It will be free for both beta and alpha releases. If you wish to upgrade to the final version, you will need to pay $79 once it is out of beta. You don’t need to upgrade as you still have access the beta or alpha versions that you have already installed.
PAP 4.0 is available for free if you need a finished product but don’t want it to cost. This product is only for Windows.
Animation Paper has reimagined PAP4.0 from the ground up. We wanted a simpler and more intuitive design. It will remind of traditional light-table animation.
There are layers, onion-skinning and light setup. You can also use black, red, green and red pens to plan and draw scenes and poses. Although the application is simple and straightforward, it has many features that can be used to create traditional animation. It will be worth your time to watch the YouTube tutorials.
You’ll be able to do a lot with this free animation program once you become familiar with the many icons placed in small windows. You can use the app with your Wacom pressure-sensitive pen.
It also supports touch-screen support. The app has intuitive shortcuts for zooming, rotating, and switching between draw and erase modes.
ProsExcellent for traditional animation, hand-drawn; intuitive interface
ConsSlow release schedule
“So, I’m looking at the alpha version for the newest Animation Paper ( http://animationpaper.com and I have to say, even in this very small alpha form, it is the most intuitive animation program I’ve ever had to use.” – @StunnerPony Twitter
“I am saddened that it has only gotten about 1/16th the funding it requires, but that doesn’t mean it must die!” – Hayley, YouTube
3. Synfig Studio: The best free open-source 2D animation software
Platforms Windows, Mac, and Linux
Synfig Studio, an animation app with many features, is free to download. Synfig offers advanced features, such as vector animation, bitmap, keyframes and onion-skinning, in addition to the standard tools you’d find in similar apps.
The application also automatically adds keyframes to ensure a smooth workflow. Although the tool is compatible with touch-screen computers and pressure-sensitive tablets, there have been some reports of minor offsets between Wacom pen cursors and the application screen.
This free animation software also offers some amazing pro features. Synfig supports gradient routes, which allow you to shade your drawings, create vector lines, use grids, onion-skinning, and select from many blend options for your drawing.
Synfig is an excellent application for people who are familiar with animation software.
Pros This powerful software is great for vector animation
Cons Tough learning curve, lack of tutorials
Synfig Studio can animated almost anything. It’s however very complicated to use and will take some time to master.
Synfig “Synfig is a polished, beautiful features like interpolated animateds and bones/splines, and decent enough documentation. However, it’s not popular making it hard to find info and tutorials.” u/harfyi. Reddit
4. Blender: The best free 3D animation software
Platforms Windows, Mac, and Linux
Blender can be used by scientists, engineers, game developers, artists, and other professionals from the industry. This free, open-source motion graphics software has been around for a while and has grown to be a powerful application.
It is not easy to use the application. Blender is fun to use once you are comfortable with the basics.
Blender provides tools for modeling, lighting and video operations after conversion. Blender works on all major operating systems and platforms. OpenGL support will allow you to have a smoother workflow and better performance.
Pros Large community; many tutorials
Cons Learning curve steep and slow
Blender is the best choice. It is as powerful and evolves constantly, but the comminuty of blender is much larger. It is possible to find a tutorial on blender here.
It is also slow. It doesn’t manage millions of polygons well or transform them. It’s okay for light work, but it doesn’t handle heavy scenes very well.” – u/Aniso3d. Reddit
5. Krita: The best free 2D animation program to onion-skinning
Platforms Windows, Mac and Linux
Krita, another excellent software, is great for both new and experienced artists. It is designed for digital artists and has an intuitive interface. Krita was a digital painting program similar to Photoshop or Paint.Net.
It now supports animation via onion-skinning as well as frame-by-frame vector animation due to the overwhelming support of a 2015 Kickstarter. Krita supports touch screen and drawing tablet support.
Krita is a strong open-source project that offers a wealth of resources, including video tutorials, documentation on vector graphics, japanese animated templates, and downloadable content like texture packs and brush presets. You can even program using Python, the most popular programming language.
This animation program is free and available on all platforms, including Linux.
Pros Strong open-source community, good for painting
Cons Random crashes
“I tried Photoshop but Krita was so much easier to learn than Photoshop.” It’s closer to a painting program that a photo manipulation software.” – Reddit user u/Nightfallkitten
“Please don’t tell me krita crashed yet i literally just finished eating my cute jellyfish i loathe this” – @hornetsandbees. Twitter
6. Clara.io The best free 3D animation software for browser-based users
Platforms Any browser
Clara.io cloud-based animation software doesn’t require any plugins. It offers both basic stick-figure animation as well as polygonal modeling.
You have a wide range of mesh tools to choose from in the software. There are also features such as sub-object editing and modeling features such as subdivision surfaces. You can also tweak the materials with adjustable lighting.
It’s simple and clean. If you have any questions, you can reach the Clara.io community of 80,000 members that has its artwork posted on the Clara.io cloud.
Pros Browser access; simple to use
Cons Slowing development
“Just played with https://clara.io from @ExocortexCom. It’s amazing! An online 3D animation and modeling app that uses the web to create.fbx files and renders WebGL and V-Ray. Wow!” – @gheedough on Twitter
“Further, http://Clara.io are free, browser-based and seem very good for simple 3d animated.” – @therevmountain. Twitter
“http://clara.io appears a little quiet these days.” It is still being supported?” – @CarlBateman on Twitter
7. DAZ Studio The best free 3D animation software
Platforms Windows and Mac
DAZ Studio allows you to create, render, and animate 3D models. Register, download the software and you’re good to go.
It is easy to use, features a fast design engine, and a huge library of materials that can be used to create high-quality animations. It allows users to quickly cover a lot of information. DAZ Studio isn’t just for amateurs, but also for professionals.
Daz 3D is responsible for DAZ Studio. After Corel acquired Bryce, Daz 3D was responsible for releasing Bryce 5.5 as a freeware.
Pros Intelligent interface; photorealistic images; powerful engines
Cons Fine-tuning animations may be cumbersome
“Daz Studio’s interface is very intuitive. You will most likely get an idea of the workspace the moment you open it.” – Renderguide.com
“But then, of course, you will quickly discover that Daz Studio’s tools to fix animations are awkward, to be generous.” – TheMysteryIsThePoint, daz3d.com
8. OpenToonz The best free 2D animation program to make anime
Platforms Windows and Mac
OpenTOpenToonzoonz 2D software is ideal for animators of all levels, whether they are beginners or experienced. OpenToonz has a fun feature that allows for customization.
It is used often by Studio Ghibli, a Japanese animation film studio responsible to movies such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service.
There are many keyboard shortcuts that can be used to quickly render and animated your projects.
The software also offers a large variety of animation effects, including lighting effects and different styles. You don’t need to redraw every frame with the software’s onion-skinning or frame-by-frame animated features.
OpenToonz is available for free on both Mac and Windows. OpenToonz has many features so it is recommended that you have plenty of RAM before installing.
Pros Professional software with a lot of features
Cons Crashs; steep learning curve
“Opentoonz, another one I’ve tried, is a little difficult to get used to but has a lot of great features.” – @Jarhingeart. Twitter
Opentoonz is the perfect tool to create a video animated. Although it crashed a few time, I still love it. Have a look at it” – Reddit, u/DoubLife89
9. Toontastic 3D The best free 3D animation app for your mobile
Google has developed Toontastic3D, a mobile animation application. It’s free to download, and anyone can create amazing 3D cartoons and share them with their friends.
You can include photographic images in 3D models, add storyboards and customize music to your projects.
This app is easy to use and great for teaching children the basics of storytelling AND animation.
Pros Fantastic for storytelling; child-friendly
Cons You can only create a limited number of characters; sound issues
“Toontastic delivers an unmatched level of quality in digital animation apps for free – ideal for engaging learners in creative writing.” – @NFLaFave. Twitter
“I would definitely include Toontastic, a brilliant free app that allows kids to create short animated films #homeschooling,” – @darynsimon on Twitter
“The app was good, but it has limited scenes and characters.” Haji fangari. Google Play Store review
10. Stykz The best free 2D animation software to use with stick figures
Platforms Windows and Mac
StyStykzkz, as the name implies, is an animation program that can be used to create 2D animations from vector figures. It is a great planning tool for animation. Stykz, like most other programs on this list is cross-platform and can be used on Windows or Mac (but not Linux).
Stykz uses features taken from PivotStickFigure. This includes support for STK files. You can import files in STK format that you have already created into Stykz. Stykz allows you to work with frames, and also uses onion-skinning in order to allow them to transition naturally.
Pros It is kid-friendly and powerful for what it does
Cons Stick figures are very limited and basic shapes are not possible
“Some 7th graders worked on stick animations last quarter using #stykz programme.” – @npover. Twitter
“Excellent software for beginners… Thanks” – Kevin Cmaker Software Informer
“If Pivot is your favorite but you want more features, then Stykz You can import Pivot projects and make more advanced videos.” – Reddit