15 Best Free-to-Download Animation Software For Beginners

15 Best Free to Download Animation Software for Beginners

As a beginner in animation, you probably want to practice your skills without having to spend a considerable amount of money on editing tools.

Fortunately, budding animators, such as yourself, can produce their own craft through inexpensive software brought by open-source communities as well as the internet. Here are 15 free animation software perfect for beginners that are powerful enough to create professional-grade animated works.


Top 15 Free Animation Software Perfect for Beginners


1. Animaker

Animaker is one of the best free animation software for beginners. Equipped with an intuitive interface and drag-and-drop functionality, different types of animation can be easily done. This includes 2D animation, traditional animation, whiteboard animation, typography, and even animated infographics.

Animaker also has full HD support, both vertical and horizontal video layouts, pre-made graphics, and a free library of music and sound effects, which helps create animated videos in no time.

Tip: Want to gain access to Animaker’s advanced features? Get the pro version which includes an in-app camera, curves, enter and exit effects, multimove, and other transition effects.


2. Aurora 3D Animation Maker

This animation software is commonly used for typography projects. However, it can also provide other basic animation tools and options that are necessary for adding effects in drawn videos or images. These special effects include flames, fireworks, and snow.

After creating the animated video, Aurora 3D Animation Maker allows users to convert their projects to Flash, GIF, and MP4 file formats.


3. Blender

Blender is one of the most powerful animation software used today by professional creators and editors. In fact, it’s even used by scientists and other experts around the world. That’s why you might be surprised that this software is 100% free.

This 3D animation editing tool can support modeling, rigging, sculpting, animation, simulation, compositing, motion tracking, rendering, basic video editing, 2D animation pipeline, and so much more. It also works across all major operating systems and platforms.

For some beginners, though, the robust tools Blender has to offer can be quite overwhelming. And indeed, it would take some time before budding animators can fully understand and utilize its features and capabilities. However, at the end of the day, the steep learning curve is worth it, especially if you can create professional-quality animated videos.

Did You Know? Blender is a public project, with hundreds of people around the world contributing to its ongoing maintenance. 


4. Bryce

Initially released in 1994, Bryce is definitely one of the first animation software young animators used in the 2000s.

This classic animation tool has since evolved to an intuitive platform on which one can easily manipulate fractal landscapes, 3D models, and other kinds of animation. It also gives you access to the Sky & Fog mode which lets you adjust parameters, including the time of the day, cloud types, the sun’s position and its color. 

With Bryce, you can also manage atmosphere criteria, add realistic-looking stars, comets, and so on. 

Tip: Looking for additional material for your animated video project? You can download them from numerous creators which are available on Bryce’s official website.


5. Clara.io

Clara.io is a cloud-based software that is mainly used for basic stick-figure animation and polygonal modeling.

This free animation software doesn’t require any plugins to properly work. It has a simple, clean interface which is perfect for beginners in animation.

Clara.io also features a great range of tools such as mesh instruments, sub-object editing, adjustable lighting, realistic-looking objects, subdivision surfaces.


6. Creatoon

Like Clara.io, Creatoon is a simple and intuitive animation software ideal for beginners.

It allows artists to create cut-out style 2D animation and add special effects to them. This free animation software also lets you work with bitmaps and vector graphics in real-time. Through this feature, you can edit and preview changes as you make them which ultimately saves time.


7. DAZ Studio

With DAZ Studio, you can create high-quality 3D animations and realistic-looking image stills. You can also use this free animation software to pose, render, and animate 3D models.

Simply register at DAZ Studio’s website and download the user-friendly application to gain access to the enormous library of free and premium 3D content. You can then start building custom scenes and characters in seconds, owing to the software’s fast design engine.

Did You Know? The developers behind DAZ Studio are the same people responsible for re-releasing Bryce as a free animation software. 


8. K-3D

K-3D is a free 3D animation software that stands out from the countless others in the market. This is due to the fact that the application specializes in polygonal modeling— a unique approach for modeling objects by representing their surfaces using polygon meshes.

Especially made for animators, the software uses flexible plugins and integrates it with visualization pipeline architecture. This makes it a versatile and powerful tool for artists.

K-3D also features parametric and procedural workflows, allowing you to make and see adjustments in real time. There’s even a node-based visualization pipeline that lets you see what the other side of the object would look like once wielded together.


9. OpenToonz

Want to hone your skills in 2D animation? Then Opentoonz is the free animation software right for your needs.

This open-source software is packed with tons of features such as digital drawing tools, special effects, indexed color palettes, motion tracking, frame-by-frame animation, scan and cleanup, and so much more. This ultimately allows you to create some pretty advanced and professional grade animated videos.


10. Pencil 2D Animation

Pencil 2D is another animation software you can download to create hand-drawn 2D videos. The open-source application is free for both personal and commercial use, so you can either use it as a platform to practice your skills or to create promotional animated videos.

Along with the simple and easy-to-use interface, Pencil 2D also includes image and audio import, frame rate adjustment, toolbar customization, onion skinning, and pressure sensitivity.


11. Plastic Animation Paper

Don’t let Plastic Animation Paper’s (PAP) outdated interface fool you! This free animation software comes with the same amount of robust tools necessary for producing high-quality 2D animated videos. 

It has both basic and advanced drawing tools, rotation and zoom tools, cutouts, layers, and much more. It even allows you to see adjustments in real time so it’s easy for beginners to learn.


12. Powtoon

Want to create dynamic video presentations? Make sure to download Powtoon! 

With this creative animation software, you can change aspect ratios, customize drawing styles, and export in different formats (YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Powerpoint and even PDF). You also have access to several professional-looking templates perfect for infographic-style videos, animated explainer videos, and product advertisements.

Tip: For those who want to use advanced animation features, Powtoon offers paid versions of the software.


13. Stykz

Stykz is another free animation software every beginner should consider downloading in their computers.

It is a frame-based application which means you have to work on one individual frame at a time. This is perfect for animators looking to hone their skills in basic 2D stick figure videos.

This software also allows edits within the same window, making you see edits and changes without having to toggle in between views. And the most important part? Stykz comes with an auto-save feature so you don’t need to worry about losing your hard work in the event the software crashed.


14. Synfig Studio

Synfig Studio is a free-to-download animation software used for creating 2D animated videos and vector graphics.

This open-source platform is packed with a bone system, allowing you to create natural movements. Other advanced features include producing cutout animation, building character puppets, and linking parameters.


15. Toontastic 3D

Toontastic 3D is Google’s very own free animation software available in Android. Although the straightforward interface is meant for children, this software can also be used by students and professionals alike.

What makes this application stand out from the rest is the fact that it focuses heavily in storytelling. You actually start by creating your own characters (either from scratch or based off on a photo) then you proceed to develop the story. You can even add narration and music to help tell the story effectively.

Through these tools, Toontastic 3D ultimately encourages storytellers to get creative with their narratives by using animation.


5 Important Facts Every Animation Beginner Should Know Before Animating


By now, you’ve probably downloaded some of the free animation software listed above and you can’t wait to create your first animated project. But before you start scribbling frame by frame, you need to know a few tips first. This would help you avoid throwing away projects because they end up wandering on and on with no clear end goal.


1. Start with the Story

While it’s tempting to dive into creating your first animated project, you should avoid doing so if you haven’t developed a concrete storyline.

Having a concept is not always enough so write down everything you want to happen or achieve in the animated video. Make sure to include stage direction as well as notes on camera angles, pan, and zoom.

Ultimately, by having the narrative planned out, you can effectively create an animation with purpose.


2. Develop Your Characters

Part of creating a story is developing characters.

Don’t just do one quick sketch of your animated characters! Make sure you draw several facial shots as well as full body shots from different angles. You should also add facial expressions and hand and legs movement as necessary.

You can then proceed to render your animated characters in color and create full character sheets to help you formalize the process. Just make sure that your character looks and acts realistically by following specific principles of animation.


3. Plan Out Your Scenes

Unless you’re animating a one-scene short (which is rarely the case), you need to draw several different scenes in your animation.

That’s why you need to carefully plan out the scenes of your animated video to guide you throughout the production process. And this is where the story or script would come to place.

Make sure to mark where one scene ends and the next begins. Then identify the requirements of the scene such as the characters in action, backgrounds needed, and the kind of music appropriate. You can also include the camera actions, effects, and color palette ideal for every scene.

4. Know the Right Timing

Now that you’ve planned out your scenes, it’s time to use the proper timing for your project.

This is very important in animation as not everything moves at the same speed. For instance, if your scene requires a human on the foreground and a bird on the background, you need to designate the appropriate motion speed each take. Keep in mind that viewers of your work expect actions based in real-life physics.

There’s also the concept of ease in and ease out which brings more life and realism to any action your characters take.


5. Create an Animation Workflow

With all of these things in mind, you can now move forward and create an animation workflow.

You can do this by writing down all the important information (from story to timing) down then deciding on the order to complete these stages of the project. Setting a timeline would ultimately help you finish your projects as soon as possible, which is extremely crucial if you’re working on a deadline for someone else.

You can easily hone your skills and produce amazing animated works with these free animation softwares. Packed with a simple, intuitive interface and numerous powerful features, you don’t need to pay a premium to get a hold of the software you need to pursue your passion.


ALSO READ: 22 Animation Styles and Techniques to Use for Your Campaign


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