Best Animation Software

Animation software enables users to generate moving graphics from visual files. Depending on the particular program, users can animate some variation of 2D, 3D, hand-drawn or computer generated graphics, often with the option to add music or additional effects. These programs are most commonly used by animators working on films, TV shows, and commercials, as well as graphic designers creating promotional materials and website media for various industries. Animation software platforms may integrate with drawing software, video editing software or 3D modeling software. Artists and freelancers can use the best free video editing software and free animation software together to create their video animations on a budget.

To qualify for inclusion in the Animation category, a product must:

  • Provide functionality for generating animated visuals from 2D and/or 3D images for use in video files
  • Import media files from other programs or offer built-in drawing tools
  • Integrate with video editing or effects software to finalize animated videos

Animation Software Grid® Overview

The best Animation Software products are determined by customer satisfaction (based on user reviews) and market presence (based on products’ scale, focus, and influence) and placed into four categories on the Grid®:
  • Products in the Leader quadrant are rated highly by G2 Crowd users and have substantial Market Presence scores. Leaders include: Cinema 4D, Blender, Adobe Edge Animate, Maya, and Adobe Animate (formerly flash)
  • High Performers are highly rated by their users, but have not yet achieved the Market Presence of the Leaders High Performers include: KeyShot, GreenSock Animation Platform, and Animaker
  • Contenders have significant Market Presence and resources, but have received below average user Satisfaction ratings or have not yet received a sufficient number of reviews to validate the solution. Contenders include: 3ds Max Design, MotionBuilder, and Adobe Character Animator
  • Niche solutions do not have the Market Presence of the Leaders. They may have been rated positively on customer Satisfaction, but have not yet received enough reviews to validate them. Niche products include: Harmony and LightWave 3D
G2 Crowd Grid® for Animation
High Performers
Market Presence

What You Should Know About Animation Software

Whether you’re an aspiring cartoonist or just want to make captivating visual content for your brand, the animation programs featured in this category can help. Animation software does require a certain level of skill to create animations with even the most user-friendly interface—you should not expect these applications to take your animated movies from concept to completion. If you have a graphic designer, visual artist, or seasoned animator on your team you are already ahead of the curve. But even without one, if you follow tutorials and dedicate the time, these tools can help you animate characters and produce motion graphics you never thought possible.

You’ve likely seen animated videos or movies that utilized one of the tools featured here. Some are more advanced than others, which can be reflected in the price, branding, or standard features. As with other software categories, your animation maker may offer new effects or capabilities based on your financial investment. For a basic animation video, though, the standard version included with most of these solutions should provide the requisite features to create quality content. There are even a number of free animation tools that can help you create animated projects with zero financial commitment, except for the labor involved.

Why Use Animation Software?

Animated material may seem like a niche business focus, and until recently it was much less common across many industries. But if you’ve seen an explainer video or whiteboard animation on a random company’s website, it could explain this software’s rising demand. Hand-drawn animation or computer-animated cartoons are no longer just for movies and television shows. An informative video with animation effects is now a valuable asset for promoting brands and spreading awareness of products or services. This content allows you to explain complex processes or mission statements with colorful special effects, and is readily shareable on social networks and popular video hosting platforms. Animated images are a distinctly modern form of marketing collateral and customer engagement that are fun for both the creators and the viewers.

Of course, once you or someone on your team masters an animation tool, these skills can be used to animate characters and stories for pure entertainment. Animation has never been more popular of a medium among children and adults alike. Your future studio can begin at your work desk, bringing motion to your brand’s drawings and ideas for the benefit of educating and inspiring business decisions from a larger audience.

Who Uses Animation Software?

The fruit of animation platforms, from “onion skinning” 2D models to beautiful whiteboard animation videos, can be alluring to just about anyone within your organization. Thanks to some of the best free animation software, there’s nothing stopping your CEO or your sales team from getting involved with character animation or wanting to create some basic layers of cartoon effects. With that being said, there are certain individuals or departments who are a more natural use case for digital animation studios.

Content – The creativity engine in your organization not only has the most obvious benefits from visual effects such as animation, but likely employs individuals with a head start on graphic design or art-minded interests. If you have a blog or an online video channel, or you just desire an interactive, eye-catching website, your content team can supplement your output by working with an animation software solution. There is overwhelming evidence that content is more effective with a visual element—as much as 650 percent more effective1. Animated visuals can open new doors for your content team and take your branded content to an entirely new level of quality.

Marketing – Depending on the structure of your organization, marketing efforts may be closely tied to other content initiatives. In any case, marketing with help from animation software is powerful, memorable way to reach both previous customers and future ones. This can come in the form of shareable videos in your promotional materials, sprinkled throughout your website, or digital advertising campaigns with a notable element of animation. Consider how you would respond to animated marketing as opposed to more traditional content, and the potential benefits could become obvious.

Product – The focus of your product team hinges on a number of factors related to your company’s overall mission and structure. Between user experience and tutorials and general website or application content, visual and design efforts may already be a daily concern in this department’s frame of mind. Integrating animation into the product team’s arsenal can be an injection of creativity and possibilities toward the long list of projects on their plate.

Production studios – Creative agencies, such as video production companies and graphic design services providers, have a revolving door of projects that can require or directly benefit from publishing tools such as these. For a successful company in this vein, it is beneficial to at least have the option and knowledge of animation in the event a certain situation calls for it, or the perfect opportunity arises for an animated component. Video game development is a direct relative of animation; companies are prone to hire designers and developers well-versed in this branch of video software. Finally, film production companies will increasingly go beyond standard filming and video editing in their expertise; animated films and television shows are more popular than ever and owe much of their success to the evolution and availability of animation platforms like the ones featured in this category.

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Software and Services Related to Animation Software

If the artistic and visually minded members of your team are interested in animation technology, you should also consider 3D design software solutions. The three main categories in this parent—3D modeling software, 3D painting software, and 3D rendering software—work hand in hand to generate complex, eye-popping objects and scenes. Objects, landscapes, and characters created with this software can then be used in an 3D animator tool to make studio-quality animations with fully realized, three-dimensional components. You should leverage audio editing software to work in the perfect music, sound effects, and voices. Uploading the project into a video editing software will allow you to crop and refine the content as desired, while a video effects software enables you to tweak the visuals in a number of ways for added effect. Finally, you may seek out a video hosting platform on which to upload, store, and share your finished project.

If you’re seeking an animated video to elevate a particular project or drive home an announcement with your audience, but don’t want to invest in or learn new software, you can enlist a creative services provider. Research the best video production and graphic design companies in your area through a web search or by scrolling these categories on G2 Crowd. If you find a trustworthy local company that offers animated content, reach out to discuss your particular needs to see if they can help.

Compare Animation Software
    Results: 47

    Star Rating

    Animation reviews by real, verified users. Find unbiased ratings on user satisfaction, features, and price based on the most reviews available anywhere.

    Bring your imagination to life with Maya® 3D animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software. Maya helps artists tell their story with one fast, creative toolset.

    Edge Animate lets web designers create interactive HTML animations for web, digital publishing, rich media advertising and more, reaching both desktop and mobile browsers with ease.

    Cinema 4D Studio is the very best that MAXON has to offer for professional 3D artists. If you want to create advanced 3D graphics but need a helping hand to ensure you create jaw-dropping graphics quickly and easily, then this is the choice for you.

    Blender is an open source 3D creation suite that supports the 3D pipeline, modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, and motion tracking, video editing, and game creation.

    KeyShot is real-time ray-tracing and global illumination program used to create 3D renderings, animations and interactive visuals. With the CPU-based architecture, photo realistic real-time rendering can be achieved even on simple laptops without the need for special graphics cards. It supports import for the greatest number of 3D file formats out of any rendering software, importing over 20 different file types, has an incredibly simple user interface with drag-n-drop material and environment presets, interactive labeling, texture mapping, physical lighting, animation and much more.

    Animaker is a Las Vegas, NV based, Fastest Growing, Do-It-Yourself, animated visual content creation platform on cloud. With the world’s largest library of animated assets, Animaker helps over a million users from 180 countries. Animaker users create visual content of studio quality, in quicktime, in any language & without much training or external guidance. Enterprises use it to convert boring financial data into visually appealing Infographic Videos. Entrepreneurs use it to convert lifeless textual content into exciting 2D Animated Explainer Videos. Students use it to create visually appealing Presentation Videos. Millennials use it to create fun filled Vertical Videos (Mobile).

    Adobe Character Animator CC is a motion capture and animation tool that gives everyone an accessible solution for intuitive 2D character animation, live animation, and easy character sharing and publishing.

    3ds Max Design software is a comprehensive 3D design, modeling, animation, and rendering solution for architects, designers, civil engineers, and visualization specialists.

    Think of GSAP as the Swiss Army Knife of animation...but better. It animates anything JavaScript can touch (CSS properties, canvas library objects, SVG, generic objects, whatever) and it solves countless browser inconsistencies, all with blazing speed (up to 20x faster than jQuery), including automatic GPU-acceleration of transforms. See the for details. Most other libraries only animate CSS properties. Plus, their sequencing abilities and runtime controls pale by comparison. Simply put, GSAP is the most robust high-performance animation library on the planet, which is probably why every major ad network excludes it from file size calculations and hosts it on their CDNs. Unlike monolithic frameworks that dictate how you structure your apps, GSAP completely flexible; sprinkle it wherever you want.

    Used by top studios all over the world, Harmony lets you work fast and animate in any style. Harmony has all the tools you need for traditional paperless, cut-out and hybrid animation productions.

    3D design, engineering, and entertainment software and services.

    LightWave 3D combines a state-of-the-art renderer with powerful, intuitive modeling, and animation tools.

    Developers of innovative CG, VFX, VR and 3D design software

    Hype Professional is the most advanced app for creating stunning animated and interactive web content. Visual designs should use visual tools. The tweak and reload cycle is over, as is banging your head against CSS. Hype Pro’s philosophy is to make common animation tasks easy, and complex tasks possible. If you really want, you can still get your hands dirty with code. Learn more:

    iClone is an instant 3D visualization and digital storytelling with unique real-time animation engine that accelerate your production speed by rendering everything you see instantly, without the wait.

    Pencil2D is an animation/drawing software that allows you to create traditional hand-drawn animation using both bitmap and vector graphics.

    Whether you're looking to create whole three di­men­sional worlds or have a two di­men­sional project in mind, Hash Animation:Master is the 3D soft­ware you need to design and render amazing imagery and animation... from the comfort of your kitchen table!

    Cheetah3D is a powerful and easy to learn 3D modeling, rendering and animation application which was developed from the ground up for Mac OS X.

    Powtoon is an awesome video creation platform that enables anyone to create professional-looking and engaging videos and presentations in minutes, without any design or technical skills. More than 20 million people, including 96% of the Fortune 500 companies, use Powtoon to engage their audience, boost sales, add life to their internal communications, and promote their product or service. Founded in 2012, Powtoon has offices in London, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Ukraine, and the Philippines. With Powtoon you can easily create your own free (or paid) studio-quality HD live and animated videos in minutes — eliminating the high cost of hiring a video production team. Powtoon offers a huge library of professionally-designed templates, scenes, characters, props, millions of videos, soundtracks, text, and more to choose from, as well as the ability to upload your own media, videos, GIFs, images, voiceovers and anything you need to create awesome videos in no time.

    Model. Animate. Render. Online.

    Clarisse iFX is a 2D/3D animation software which is the fusion of an animation package, a compositing software and a 3d rendering engine.

    DigiCel FlipBook Makes Animation Easier!

    Academy Award winning Massive Prime™ is the complete solution for authoring, directing and rendering custom autonomous agents for animation and visual effects

    Moho is a tool that create animation from start to end, it has a 2D rigging system of the market and mix it with traditional animation tools to make amazing, professional animations.

    Synfig is a powerful, industrial-strength vector-based 2D animation software package, designed from the ground-up for producing feature-film quality animation with fewer people and resources.

    Artlantis is a 3D rendering application developed for architects and designers, ideal for quickly and easily creating high resolution renderings and animations.

    ASK-EHS helps create animated safety movies, videos replicating actual accidents and near-miss incidents designed to help workers understand them with consummate ease.

    DigiTechMark is an animation production house and full-service creative, digital and technical marketing agency.

    Dragonframe Software is a stop motion animation software.

    3D modeling, animation, photorealistic rendering, photorealistic VR content creation, CAD/CAM, 3D printing, laser-cutting and much more!

    form·Z's ability to combine solid and surface modeling has made it a favorite in multiple design fields that engage in the articulation of 3D forms and spaces. Available for the Mac and Windows, it adds interoperability between the two platforms as it allows users to open their files on either one.

    3d modeling and animation software.

    HUE Animation is a stop motion animation software for Windows and Mac OS X.

    iStopMotion to create stop-motion animations and time-lapse videos on the Mac, use in the classroom and in all disciplines.

    K-3D is free-as-in-freedom 3D modeling and animation software. It combines flexible plugins with a visualization pipeline architecture, making K-3D a versatile and powerful tool for artists.

    Massive Jet™ is designed with a streamlined and easy to use workflow to make AI-driven animation available to all animation and visual effects professionals.

    MilkShape 3D is a low-polygon modeler, which was initially designed for Half-Life. By and by many file formats and features have been added.

    Muvizu is an animation software designed to allow users to make 3D animated movies on home computers.

    OpenToonz is software for producing a 2D animation. It is based on the software "Toonz", which was developed by Digital Video S.p.A. in Italy, customized by Studio Ghibli, and has been used for creating its works for many years. Dwango launches this OpenToonz project, in cooperation with Digital Video and Studio Ghibli.

    Everybody is invited to download and use the original version of Animation Paper. It’s old. But it’s free. No strings attached. Enjoy!

    The JavaScript motion engine. Create delightful user interfaces with Popmotion

    The latest full-featured 3D modeling, rendering and animation software package from Realsoft.

    Saola Animate is a software for creating HTML5 Animation.

    Spine is 2D skeletal animation software for video games.

    TupiTube Desk is a 2D animation tool for desktop environments focused on usability for children and amateur artists. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

    TVPaint Animation offers a software for 2D animation.

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