June 2, 2020

Best Free Animation Software [+15 Free Tools]

Piotr Chomczyk
Piotr Chomczyk

Congrats! You have just stumbled upon the ultimate list of best free animation software you can use in your next animation project. No need to look any further.

The list is big, and, as it is with most things in life, some of the animation software tools might be a poor choice to start with, while the other might become your life-long friends.

To save you time and nerves, each of the free animation software tools has been assessed in several categories:

  • Price - πŸ’² - yes this is a "Best free animation software" list, but some of those tools can be used in a free and pro version.
  • Compatibility - πŸ’» - not all animation software can be used both on Mac and PC, and some of them are mobile-only applications.
  • Difficulty level - 🎚️ - you don't want to jump in the deep end and find yourself confused with unneeded clutter.
  • Thrid-party score - 🌟 - if available, you will see the software score from one of the biggest software marketplaces like Capterra, or G2.

Without further ado, enjoy the ultimate list of best free animation software. And if you think I've missed something, feel free to rant about it in the comments.


Best free animation software - 2D

This is a list of free animation software that will let you work with 2D projects like cartoons, explainer videos, or marketing animations.

Powtoon

Powtoon free animation software

πŸ’² Price: Free - $99/mo
πŸ’» Compatibility: Any device
🎚️ Difficulty: Easy
🌟 User score: G2 - 4.5/5 Capterra - 4.5/5

"Create Awesome Videos & Presentations" pretty much sums it up for Powtoon.

You can upload your own media and play with it on their online platform that can be used on almost any device since it's running in your browser.

What adds up to Powtoon is its big user base and a very long presence on the market, meaning that you can expect a well-polished product.

What people Pawtoon users mostly rant about is the customer support that turns out to be not that supportive after all. Worth keeping in mind before fully trusting those guys.


Pencil2D

πŸ’² Price: Free - Open source
πŸ’» Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Linux & FreeBSD
🎚️ Difficulty: Childishly easy
🌟 User score: G2 - 4.1/5 Capterra - πŸ•³οΈ

Pencil2D is open-source software, meaning that it's supported and developed by its community.

This usually means that users had the time to pinpoint the biggest pains, and what you are getting now is now a mature tool.

On the other hand, open-source means that Pencil2D might be lacking some features you need in your specific project, and chances are you won't see it added too soon.


Animaker

πŸ’² Price: Free - $79
πŸ’» Compatibility: Multi-platform
🎚️ Difficulty: Childishly easy
🌟 User score: G2 - 4.2/5 Capterra - 3.9/5

Animaker is Powtoons smaller brother, used by beginners and smaller businesses since the cost is way lower than what you can expect from other software.

Often the price goes hand-in-hand with quality, and it seems to also apply to Animaker.

The biggest drawbacks mentioned is reviews is the time needed to get the animation ready and lack of proper support from the company.

Nevertheless, Animaker is still the first choice for a big chunk of video animators.


Synfig

Synfig free animation software

πŸ’² Price: Free - open-source
πŸ’» Compatibility: Windows, Linux, and OSX
🎚️ Difficulty: Easy
🌟 User score: G2 - 5/5 Capterra - 4.3/5

Synfig is yet another open-source animation software, but it seems like somehow a little less popular compared to Pencil2D.

It's maintained by its and community and at the time of writing this article (May 27th, 2020), they got more than $1000 contribution from their users.

That's a big Wow! for an free animation software.

You can expect clean and clear documentation and a video guide on how to start working with Synfig.


Animation Paper

πŸ’² Price: Free until the official release
πŸ’» Compatibility: PC Mac
🎚️ Difficulty: Easy
🌟 User score: πŸ•³οΈ

Animation Paper aspires to become World’s Most Awesome Software for Hand-Drawn Animation. That's a bit contrary to the fact it's not reviewed on any of big-name software marketplaces.

It comes with a set of helpful features like high-quality frames, smooth rotation, and zooming or multi-platform access.

Right now you can use Animation Paper software for free, but after their official release, the license will go for $79 each.


OpenToonz

OpenToonz free animation software

πŸ’² Price: Free - open-source
πŸ’» Compatibility: Windows, OS X
🎚️ Difficulty: Hard
🌟 User score: G2 - 4.0/5

Yet another one of those open-source free animation software. This time it will require you some more effort to learn it.

You really have to be willing to learn how to use this program on your own through a lot of trial and error.

There are a few Youtube tutorials, but to really master using OpenToons, you will have to spend a big chunk of time pulling your hairs out.


Stykz

Stykz free animation software

πŸ’² Price: Free
πŸ’» Compatibility: Windows, OS X
🎚️ Difficulty: Simple
🌟 User score: πŸ•³οΈ

Remember the early days of animations when most of the old Youtube was flooded with stick figures?

Well, you still have the chance to jump on this long-departed, rusted train and play around with Stykz.

The community is long gone, and the last release was in 2011. The feeling you are having right now is called nostalgia.


Moovly

πŸ’² Price: Free - $99/mo
πŸ’» Compatibility: Multi-platform - web-based
🎚️ Difficulty: Super-simple
🌟 User score: G2 - 4.6/5 Capterra - 4.2/5

This is one of the big players in the modern animation software market. And for all the good reasons.

An easy learning curve, top-notch customer support (rated 9.1 on G2) simply builds up the trust from day one.

There's a tone of pre-made, action-ready elements you can use right away.

The limit for the free users is 180 seconds, so if you need some more space and video time, you will have to jump on the paid membership.


Wideo

πŸ’² Price: Free - $79/mo
πŸ’» Compatibility: Multi-platform - web-based
🎚️ Difficulty: Medium
🌟 User score: G2 - 3.4/5 Capterra - 4.1/5

Wideo is template-based free animation software coming with a few limitations for the free plan like only 60 seconds long video, Wideo branding, and just 10 video templates.

Wideo makers suggest that you do not need any skills in the matter, as the process is painless for both noobies and professionals.

This is a bit contrary to the user opinion, who rated "Easy of Setup" with only a 6.3 score of 10 (the average score for animation software is 8.5).

Wideo obviously targets users who don't want to put too much time and effort into the animation and just want the results, and that's absolutely fine.


TupiTube

πŸ’² Price: Free
πŸ’» Compatibility: PC, Android
🎚️ Difficulty: Easy
🌟 User score: Play Store - 3.7/5

TupiTube is a free animation software designed for kids age 8 - 100.

This means it's a tool as simple as it possibly can be. This can be looked at both as an advantage and con.

It's great for making your first steps with the animation, but surely not a tool that a professional animator would use daily.

But hey, if you want your kid to share your passion, that's the app you want him to use.

Best free animation software - 3D

The 3D animation software is very different from 2D software in almost all aspects.

With high complicity and high resource costs related to 3D rendering, you want to make sure you are picking the best animation software for your 3D projects.

Here's and ulimate list of 3D software you can use for free, forever.


K-3D

Animations made with K-3D

πŸ’² Price: Seven Degrees of Freedom
πŸ’» Compatibility: Windows, macOS
🎚️ Difficulty: Medium
🌟 User score: G2 - 4.5/5

Old good free software.

The moment I'm writing this, the K-3D animation software was downloaded 1091 times in the past week and the last update was back in 2013.

This means a lot. The community still leaves a high score review, not mentioning any bugs or missing features.

It's a reliable software coming with a lot of YouTube tutorials to easily jump-start your way to 3D animation.


Blender

3D Animation made with Blender

πŸ’² Price: Free
πŸ’» Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Linux
🎚️ Difficulty: Medium
🌟 User score: G2 - 4.5/5 Capterra - 4.6/5

Blender is surely a name you have stumbled upon the second you got interested in 3D animation.

It has become the first-choice tool for 3D animators working on commercial and amateur 3D animations, and for a good reason.

The huge community comes with numerous tutorials on different aspects of creating 3D animations with Blender software.

One of the most important pros of Blender is that it can be applied in all projects, sized from a short animation to full movies, with absolutely no limitations.

Blender free animation software is still a fresh breeze on the expensive market that 3D animation software tends to be.

When compared to other software on this list using Blender is like building and piloting Jumbo Jet next to throwing paper planes. But if you are thinking about getting pro one day - it is definitely worth putting extra energy to learn it, especially that the knowledge base and community are humongous and extremely active.


Toontastic

Toontastick video presentation

πŸ’² Price: Free - $100/mo
πŸ’» Compatibility: Multi-platform - web-based
🎚️ Difficulty: Advanced
🌟 User score: πŸ•³οΈ

Toontastic 3D is yet another tool designed for kids, who want to start their adventure with 3D animation software.

The Toontastic software was created and is being developed by Google.

This means you can expect a simple UI, loads of creative options, and app running smoothly.

Toontastick comes with Idea hub, where the youngster can get inspired by other creators.


Clara.io

Clara.io animation software

πŸ’² Price: Free - $100/mo
πŸ’» Compatibility: Multi-platform - web-based
🎚️ Difficulty: Advanced
🌟 User score: πŸ•³οΈ

Clara.io is a complete 3D modeling toolset for 3D animators and creators.

Surely the biggest advantage of using Clara is that you can work on your projects from any device, anywhere, since it is a web-based software.

This also means that all the rendering happens in the cloud, taking the hardware hassle off your back (that's a big win right here!)

Clara comes with a set of free 3D models you can use freerly in your projects.

It also has a community and support forum for users.

All you have to do to start using Clara is to register for free on their website.


Daz 3D

πŸ’² Price: Free - Purchase of 3D models (various prices)
πŸ’» Compatibility: Windows & Mac
🎚️ Difficulty: Advanced
🌟 User score: πŸ•³οΈ

Daz Studio is a 3D animation and modeling software designed for creating scenes, characters, and items with a high-end touch and look.

With a shop as a core platform feature, you can purchase pre-made models, and items to get your project completed much faster.

After building your custom scenes, Daz allows you to render photo-realistic images and animations with studio-class processing.

The software comes with a lot of community tutorials on basic and advanced usage.


Planetside

Animation created with Planetside

πŸ’² Price: Free - $699
πŸ’» Compatibility: Windows & Mac
🎚️ Difficulty: Advanced
🌟 User score: πŸ•³οΈ

Planetside Software is a company that created Terragen - a very advanced 3D terrain generator that renders realistic environments for Films, TV, Games, and VR.

It has all features you would wish to have in software like this one:

  • Ray-traced Preview
  • Photo-real Cloud
  • Lens Effects
  • Numerous shaders

The free version of Terragen is available only for personal use (or a 30-day trial for commercial use) and has a few limitations as to the use cases. However, it's still enough to decide if it's a perfect animation software for you.

Plateside's Terragen is being frequently updated with bug fixes and new features coming with every release.

Anim8or

Anim8or animation software tutorial

πŸ’² Price: Free
πŸ’» Compatibility: Windows
🎚️ Difficulty: Simple
🌟 User score: Softonic - 3.5/5

Anim8or is another one of those tools which website takes you back in time to '00s.

The latest release for Anim8or was back in May 2017, so it's really hard to call it a modern animation software.

Still, the community doesn't seem to care at all. The Anim8or forum is still thriving with new posts coming almost every day.

If you need a very simple tool to do a very simple job, that's your choice.

Conclusion

There's a lot of free animation software out there.

You should be picky about choosing the right option depending on your needs.

It's best if you narrow down the animation software list to an absolute minimum so that you are left with only the tools that will get the job done.

After that, try creating a simple animation in each of them. Provided that all the animation software tools listed here, it will just cost you your time.

At some point, it will be best if you fully focus on learning a single technology and limit the use of other tools to maybe some sort of support (i.e. using Terragen to generate realistic 3D terrain for your animations).

If you think some of the tools haven't been portrayed right or I missed some crucial information, let me know in the comments.

about author

Piotr Chomczyk

CEO & Co-founder of Renderro
Founder and CEO of Renderro with over 10 years of experience in the film industry as a creator.
Main writer and content creator for Renderro blog, where he posts his experiences and thoughts on the industry.

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