Edited by Nataly Bogorad
October 21, 2020
Top 10: Best 2D Animation Software
If you are looking for the best 2D animation software, you came to the right place. We compiled a few 2D animation software for beginners and professionals available in the market, to lead you through the process of choosing the right one. If you want to start in the animation world or just want to try another software, you certainly will find the one that fits your needs on our list.
2D Animation Software for Beginners and Professionals
This top 10 doesn’t follow a particular order, each program has their own good and not-so-good features, advantages, and disadvantages that make it special in a particular way. We recommend you to read every one and make your choice at the end of the article.
Programs for Beginners
2D animation without actual animation, that’s Stop Motion Studio. The program allows you to create beautiful stop-motion animations easily and quickly, without complicated software or previous knowledge. You can plug your DSLR and take the pictures with the program, taking full control of all the settings in the camera. Also, you can add text, themes, colors, and drawings to your stop motion animation. The Stop Motion Studio is available for Mac and Windows.
- Good tutorials
- Has a sharing option
- The full version is not free
- No templates
If you want to begin creating animation, but don’t have money for a super advanced animation program, Moho is the right choice. But don’t get me wrong: Moho is one of the best 2D animation software out there. It’s one of the most popular in the animation world among beginners, due to its features and price. Smart Bones is one of that features: it helps to reduce or completely remove any distortion around elbows, knees or any joint of your animation. This tool simplifies some process that can take much longer to perform in another program. If you want to learn animation, Moho will help you out, and you can give it a try for free with its free trial.
- Supports drawing tablets
- Strong user community
- Some features are hard to master
- Not very precise in synchronizing characters lips with their speech
Tupi is a free 2D animation software created in 2002 by two animators to incentive the animation in Latin America. It’s free and open source, so you can download it at any moment to try it and see if you like it. The interface is one of the simplest existents in this kind of software and it's quite easy to learn, so you won't face any trouble using it. Tupi allows you to create an animation frame by frame and cut-out flash style with tweening. The community is growing every day, so you can find a lot of video tutorials to learn the basics of the software. Is available to download in Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Clear interface, even kids can use the app
- You need to register to use it
- Doesn’t have a Windows version
FlipBook is an animation software for actual artists. If you enjoy drawing and you’ve always wanted to create your own Disney-like cartoon, this software will suit you well. FlipBook allows you to import pictures from your scanner. On the other hand, this program is not built around bones animation technology, that’s why you’ll have to animate everything manually. But this is not a problem for someone who’s great at drawing.
- Can work with imported images, e.g., scans
- Compatible with drawing tablets
- No templates
- For manual drawing only
Programs for Professionals
This is the “good for everyone” kind of software. It’s a good 2D animation software for beginners and a powerful tool in the hands of a professional. Used by Disney, Pixar, and Warner Bros, this program has the ability to be one of the most advanced without being too complicated for a new developer. The Princess and the Frog, the Disney movie, was made using this program, so we can say it’s one of the biggest names in the animation world.
The amount of tools and options available in Harmony makes it one of the best 2D animation software. It offers a full range of properties for pencils and brushes, so you can draw directly into the program with your mouse or your Wacom tablet. Harmony allows you to use a traditional frame-to-frame animation or the cut-out. There are other available features such as camera angles, post-production special effects, and vector drawing. It also has an incredible lip-syncing feature to match the voice with the animations.
- Loads of great features that even professionals might need
- Characters’ movement looks natural
- May be too expensive for a hobby
CelAction is another program used by a vast group of animation studios and professionals. Powerful but easy to learn, this animation program offers a wide range of options that can make the learning process a little bit easier. You can use vector and bitmaps simultaneously, customize your workspace and it allows you to create both simple and massively complex projects. CelAction2D works in both Windows and Mac, so you aren’t limited to use a particular OS. Its performance and the way the program simplify some complex projects supplement its lack of drawing tools, so that’s why this software is still on the top ranking.
- Can operate thousands of layers
- Doesn’t need many resources
- Might be difficult to animate movement
- The price for a lifetime license is the highest compared to other programs from this list
Synfig is an open source, free 2D animation software with the power of a professional one. Available for Windows, Linux, and Mac, this program can make beautiful animations in an easy and fast way. The community behind this animation program is one of the best, with hundreds of tutorials and videos to learn from.
It was designed to look like and work similar to Flash, so if you had to use it in the past, you will quickly learn the workspace. Remember, this program is totally free, so it’s one of the best animation programs, to begin with. If you have years of experience or you are just starting out, Synfig may be the perfect tool that you are looking for. Give it a try.
- Big and helpful community
- Supports all main operating systems
- It takes a long time to learn how to work with it
- You’ll need a good computer
Opentoonz is another open source, free 2D animation software. This one was used by Studio Ghibli to make the world famous Princess Mononoke, and it’s quite powerful. The “open source” part means that you can download it for free to try it and, if you like it, you can use it as long as you want. The toolset has a lot of features that you can find in the more professional software on the market.
Opentoonz combines traditional drawing with 2D animation. You can scan your drawings to start animating it. The Opentoonz launch day was a bit messy, but the recent updates from some of the community developers and some changes made by the community itself achieved great results in the stability of the program.
- Good for traditional drawing
- Sometimes crashes
- Some necessary windows with options are hard to find
Pencil2D, another open source and free to use animation software, is one of the most powerful 2D animation software existent. This program uses a minimalist-style workspace, created to avoid distractions from the main animating window. It's focused on traditional frame-by-frame animation so every frame is made from scratch. It comes with a manual to learn how to use the program adequately. If you still think it’s a bit difficult, there are a few tutorials on its official website.
It’s a good alternative for those who like the traditional frame by frame animation, and the growing community is completely supportive, so if you find any bug or problem with your program, you can consult the community. It’s completely multi-platform, so you can download it for Windows, Linux, and Mac. The program is lightweight and doesn’t use large amounts of ram, so almost any computer can handle it.
- Minimalistic interface with nothing needless
- Not many tools available
Unlike the previous mention, Sprinter Pro uses bones technology. You just upload the pieces of the character’s image, place them in the right positions, and animate it piece by piece. The program allows you to do animation really fast, which is useful if you want to keep up with the trends. The software has video guides for you to get a better understanding of how it works, and it’s also available on Steam! However, the program may seem quite pricy.
That’s the end of the list. We hope that you give a try at least to one of the 2D animation software listed here because each one has something valuable to offer. It doesn’t matter if you are starting today, in the learning process, or a professional with years of experience, this list gives you a software that will most likely satisfy your needs.
- Loads of manuals
- Autosaves while you create
- The free version’s functionality is limited
- Some users complain about bugs
Frequently Asked Questions
One of the programs that Disney animators use is Toon Boom Harmony. You can find more information on the app in our article.
- Traditional or Cel Animation
- 2D Animation
- 3D Animation
- Motion Graphics
- Stop Motion
A career in animation can be challenging, but it’s definitely an exciting job. There are plenty of career choices in this field: you can work as a cartoon animator, graphic artist, 3D artist, video game designer.
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