12 Best Free 3D Animation Software

Ben Jacklin Edited by Ben Jacklin

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Best 3D animation software

Modern 3D animation software is more advanced and powerful than ever before, perfect for creating all sorts of films, models, games, and more. It's even possible to find a free 3D animation maker that lets you make 3D animations without having to spend a single cent. In this guide, we'll look at the best 3D animation software you can start using today for free.

Best free 3D animation software for professionals

OS: Open-source project available for Windows, Linux, and Mac computers

Price: Free

Blender is one of the most incredible open-source 3D animation tools you can use today. The plethora of 3D animation tools it comes with can be overwhelming. Compared side-by-side, Blender may have even more tools than the full versions of some of the best-selling graphics software in the market. These include texturing, body simulation and sculpting, video editing, rigging, composing, coloring, texturing, and 3D modeling tools.

Blender is the all-in-one 3D animation tool that hobbyists can use to create 2-second animated memes, and professionals use it to design 3D architectural structures. If you look forward to creating award-winning 3D animations, the right 3D software to learn to use is Blender.

Key features:

  • Use textured brushes and masking to create 3D surfaces and paints

  • Download and use add-ons and customized animation tools with Python scripting support

  • Supports both auto and manual tracking for smoother 3D animations

Pros:

  • Powerful rendering support using GPU and CPU power

  • Robust camera restoration and VR rendering

Cons:

  • Does not get regular updates or patches

  • Steep learning curve

You can download the 3D animation program by following the link below.

Go to the Blender download page

OS: Available for Linux, macOS X, FreeBSD, and Windows platforms

Price: Free

The dynamic 3D animation software K-3D is popular among video makers and artists because it simplifies animation. K-3D combines multiple plugins to make the animation process a breeze and achieve more for less.

K-3D is highly customizable and can be personalized to suit the preferences of the artist. The power of this handy 3D animation software, however, hides in the capabilities of its visualization pipeline architecture.

Key features:

  • K-3D uses the platform's framework to generate its views. Therefore, it adopts the native look and feel, making it a good platform for first-time digital artists

  • Powerful features with handy property adjustment capabilities

Pros:

  • Highly flexible for basic or complex workflows

  • A wide selection of plugins

Cons:

  • Lacks of user tutorials

You can download the program by following the link below.

Go to the K-3D download page

OS: Available for 32-bit versions of Windows XP, 7, and 10 only

Price: Free

Source Filmmaker, abbreviated to SFM, is a 3D animation software for PC that uses a Source Game Engine to create animated films. This is the very tool that Valve used to create over 50 popular films and games, including Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2.

How SFM works is revolutionary. It is essentially game software in which you can create separate scenes as movie clips. The tool lets you use game assets in the movie and vice versa.

Key features:

  • Simple-to-use clip editor and motion editors that record, edit, and arrange shots

  • Better image recognition. SFM uses a sophisticated engine to arrange assets, adjust motions, and blend animations

  • Graph editor that supports pose-for-pose animation

Pros:

  • Has the rendering power of a modern PC game engine

  • Free to download and use

  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Some features are as the engine it runs on is old

  • Low-res effects, characters, props, and map

You can download the 3D animation program by following the link below.

Go to the Source Filmmaker download page

OS: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows

Price: Free

The development of MakeHuman started off as a creation of a module for blender. Eventually, the 3D animation tool was made open-source and available as a stand-alone application.

MakeHuman is an application you can use to create 3D human characters. The app allows you to model and animate, then export in various formats.

The app features multiple tabs for the different categories of character data such as body and facial features. The software is very popular for use as a prototyping tool for photorealistic humanoids.

Key features:

  • Simple to use tool to create human characters

  • Intuitive and fast access to a large database of morphing targets

  • Models created in MakeHuman can be imported into Blender for editing

  • Uses fuzzy logic rules to process inputs

Pros:

  • It is free to use

  • Easy to use interface

  • Simple tools to create realistic static poses and animations

Cons:

  • Limited customizing options

You can download the 3D animation program by following the link below.

Go to the MakeHuman download page

OS: Online

Price: Free version, Premium from $19/month

If you're looking for the best free 3D animation software that you can run directly in your internet browser, take a look at Powtoon. This web-based CGI and 3D animation program can run on almost any device in your favorite browser and provides you with a cloud-based platform you can use to create professional-looking animations for all sorts of uses. Appealing to Fortune 500 companies and amateur animators alike, this is one of the easiest 3D animation apps out there.

It has a very simple, user-friendly interface and tons of tools and features for creating, enhancing, and adjusting your animations, as well as the ability to share them directly via Google Drive. If you pay for a premium plan, you'll get even more features and options, though it's worth noting that the free trial is very limited, with Powtoon branding on all your creations and just 100 MB of storage.

Key features:

  • Web-based and can be used in your browser with no downloads needed

  • Various payment plans and options to suit different users

  • Lots of different tools and features to play around with

Pros:

  • Very easy to use, even for total beginners

  • Works within your browser for total convenience

  • Creates very professional-looking videos and animations

Cons:

  • Free trial is very limited and you'll need to pay for a premium for full access

You can access the Powtoon 3D animation tool by following the link below.

Go to the Powtoon official website

OS: Windows, Mac

Price: Free version, Premium from $215/month

When it comes to 3D animation and modeling software, Autodesk is widely considered to be one of the most trusted and admired brands in the business. Autodesk Maya is therefore a great option to choose if you're looking to make truly professional, Hollywood-level animations that wouldn't look out of place in the latest blockbuster movie.

This fully-featured app is capable of 3D animation, motion graphics, and hyper-realistic animation, and it's been used throughout history to help make some of the most famous movies of all, from the latest Marvel hits to the Star Wars prequels of the early 2000s. It's not free to everyone, but students can get free access to this app and casual users can try a free trial too. It's also worth noting that Autodesk Maya is not a beginner-friendly option and can only be recommended to animation students or experts.

Key features:

  • A huge range of procedural effects and animation tools

  • Can be used for hyper-realistic animations

  • Advanced physics engine for liquid simulation and other simulations

Pros:

  • One of the most powerful animator tools in existence

  • Trusted by industry professionals in the world of movies and gaming

  • Almost limitless range of features and functions

Cons:

  • Very expensive compared to other options

  • Steep learning curve

You can download the 3D animation program by following the link below.

Go to the Autodesk Maya download page

OS: Online

Price: Free version, Premium from $49/month

Biteable is an online animation app that is known for its user-friendly approach to animation creation. It's aimed primarily towards beginners and intermediate users, allowing you to add studio-grade effects, colors, texts, images, and audio to your videos to create fun and fluid animations in no time at all. And even if you don't have much experience with 3D animation, it shouldn't take you too long to get to grips with Biteable.

Biteable features millions of clips in its own library that users can use, as well as various templates for creating things like animated logos or presentations. You can share directly to sites like YouTube and Facebook from Biteable and the free plan offers unlimited exports and access to a huge library of stock content to use.

Key features:

  • User-friendly interface aimed at beginners

  • 4 million+ pics, clips, and animations to use

  • Over 100 custom templates to personalize

Pros:

  • One of the best free 3D animation software for beginners

  • Lots of built-in media for you to use

  • The free plan offers a lot of functionality and features

Cons:

  • You'll have to pay extra to remove the brand's watermark from your creations

You can access the online 3D animation tool by following the link below.

Go to the Biteable official website

OS: Online

Price: Free version, Premium from $10/month

Animaker is a versatile 3D animation and video creation app that has something for everyone, from beginners looking to make their first-ever animation to seasoned pros who want to fine-tune their latest creations. It features a drag and drop system, lots of ready-made templates you can use for your videos, thousands of pre-built assets, countless fonts, lots of backgrounds, and millions of pieces of stock content, too.

Trusted by brands like Unilever, Amazon, and HP, Animaker definitely ranks among the best 3D animation software free. However, many of its features, like its character builder, are better suited to simpler 2D animation. So if you want truly realistic 3D models, this may not be the app for you, but if you're focused on 2D clips, like brand introductions and tutorials, Animaker is a fine choice.

Key features:

  • Drag and drop user interface

  • Runs online in your browser on any major operating system

  • Countless fonts, backgrounds, images, clips, and other elements to use

Pros:

  • Huge library of elements and content to use in your animations

  • Very beginner-friendly UI

  • Advanced character builder offers almost limitless possibilities

Cons:

  • Mostly specialized in 2D animations rather than realistic 3D models

You can access the program by following the link below.

Go to the Animaker official website

OS: Windows, Mac

Price: Free

Trusted by Studio Ghibli, one of the world's most famous and successful animation film companies, OpenToonz is an open-source animation program that offers a range of features. It comes with its own scanning tool – GTS – which can be used to scan and create animation sequences, as well as features for digital painting, filming, VFX, and more.

The best part about OpenToonz is that it's completely free to use. Since it's open-source, developers also have total control over the software, able to adjust and adapt it to meet their specific needs. Thanks to this, it's one of the best model animation apps if you're interested in making good quality 2D or 3D cartoon-style images and clips.

Key features:

  • Features a scanning tool developed by Studio Ghibli

  • In-depth digital painting features and functionality

  • Completely free and open-source so can be adjusted to suit your needs

Pros:

  • Able to produce incredibly detailed digital 2D images and animations

  • 100% free to use for everyone, with no limits or payment plans

  • Trusted and used regularly by one of the world's biggest animation brands

Cons:

  • Arguably better-suited to 2D animation as opposed to 3D animation

You can download the program by following the link below.

Go to the OpenToonz download page

OS: Windows, Mac

Price: Free version, Premium from $20.99/month

Adobe is known for producing a huge range of different apps and editing programs for a myriad of uses, and Adobe® After Effects® is one of the top options to choose if you like Adobe software and want to make animations and VFX. It runs on both Windows and Mac and is one of the most advanced apps available for creating custom animations.

You can use Adobe® After Effects® to make everything from movie intros to custom titles screens and animated logos. It can be used by filmmakers, game developers, and other creative professionals, as well as amateur users who are interested in the art of animation. It also pairs well with other Adobe apps, so if you're already a big Adobe user, you can get even more out of Adobe® After Effects®.

Key features:

  • Can be used for creating complex animated intros, transitions, and 3D models

  • Full integration with other Adobe apps

  • Can be utilized for both 2D and 3D animations and hyper-realistic content

Pros:

  • Great for existing Adobe users

  • Surprisingly easy to use with a gentle learning curve for intermediate users

  • Highly precise tools provide the user with total control over animation creation

Cons:

  • Certain aspects of the interface can be a little awkward to use at times

You can download the program by following the link below.

Go to the Adobe® After Effects® download page

Best free 3D animation software for beginners

OS: Online

Price: Free version, Premium from $14/month

Rive is an online, web-based 3D animation app that is free to use for individual designers and offers paid, premium options for professional teams. It's used by brands like Samsung and Google, as well as professional video makers, developers, and game creators. This particular program stands out for its versatility and ease of use, with some great guides to get you started and a seamless UI that almost anyone should be able to understand.

With Rive, you get plenty of features and functions, including a collaborative editor that allows you to add assets, images, and so on to create your initial foundations for your animations, as well as a "State Machine", which is used to program logic and interaction into your animations. Rive also makes it easy for you to export your animations to various platforms and integrate them with other apps, perfect for sharing things online or creating games and clips across multiple programs.

Key features:

  • All-online application to make animations in your browser

  • Easy sharing and integration with other platforms and apps

  • State Machine to add logic and interactivity to your animations

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly user interface

  • Totally free to use for individual users and affordable pricing plans for teams, too

  • Real-time collaboration is made easy via the collaborative editor

Cons:

  • Some processes can be quite slow and time-consuming

You can access the program by following the link below.

Go to the Rive official website

OS: Available for Microsoft Windows

Price: Free

Daz 3D was designed and built from the ground up with one purpose: to help storytellers create visual narratives. The 3D animation tool uses aniMate2, a tool by GoFigure 3D, to make animating 3D cartoons as easy as puppeteering.

This tool scores highly in ease of use and exclusivity of animation tools. If you are a beginner looking for a simple 3D animation tool, you should try Daz. You should create animations with realistic simulations within no time just by following detailed tutorials on the software's wiki site.

Key features:

  • Create seamless animations by arranging scenes and using exclusive tools

  • Selection of physics-based clothing and hair simulation models

  • Robust tools to edit and visualize transitions in real-time

Pros:

  • Highly customizable user interface

  • Free to use

  • Rich learning resources and models

Cons:

  • Daz Studio cannot create models to be used in animation

You can download the program by following the link below.

Go to the Daz 3D download page

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