Animation software brings art to life. Textures, movement, perspectives and colours give an extra special dimension to characters, stories and any kind of make believe, often so realistic that it’s hard to see where the life begins and the animator’s skills end. If you’re looking for 2D and 3D animation software tools to bring your creations to life then here are 5 top choices to consider.
For this article, we've selected two 3D and three 2D solutions. 3D is great for people who have low drawing skills as the computer helps you create models and does a lot of calcuation work for you. You can also animate things very fast once the models are built. 2D solutions are great for the classic cartoon look and for those who can draw and want to animate their work.
1. Toon Boom
Toon Boom has been around for 20 years and remains an industry leader for animation and storyboarding. Their main application is Harmony, which the company sites is the most powerful software ever created for 2D animation production.
This software gives you everything you need to ink, paint, rig and animate. Whilst the results can be really impressive, we think this is a choice for professionals who can draw well, as what you put in really controls what you can get out.
2. Cinema 4D
Our 3D software Cinema 4D is professional, general-purpose solution which can be used to create any type of animation you can imagine, thanks to its massive, intuitive toolset. Despite the breadth of tools on offer, Cinema 4D is regarded as being refreshingly easy to use.
Now on Release 18, Cinema 4D has been around a very long time and is used by thousands of users worldwide. It dominates 3D motion graphics seen on TV and in the UK, it’s used by most major TV studios including BBC, ITV and Sky. The reasons for this include its fast, intuitive workflow, industry-leading motion graphics tools and excellent integration with other creative applications including Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro and many more.
Another great point about Cinema 4D is the free tech support on offer available from the company’s UK office, which has been established since 2001.
3. Adobe Animate
Adobe’s Animate software, formerly known as Flash, is one of the most popular 2D animation software on the market and has been around since the early days of internet video publishing. This vector-based programme is a great start for anyone interested in learning 2D, however if you’re considering heavy, professional animation production you may want to consider alternatives.
One big selling point about Animate is it’s part of Adobe Creative Cloud. Offering exceptional value for money at around £20 a month for one app or around £50 for all apps, this ensures you can start using Animate at a very attractive price and then simply cancel it, if it’s not for you.
Blender is a free 3D solution that gives users a good introduction to animating in a 3D environment. Offering modelling, texturing, rendering and animation tools that are capable of creating some great results, there’s a lot to like about Blender.
However, being free means that the workflow with other apps isn’t as good as some other solutions and some features are difficult to learn. You’ll also find support is limited to users helping you out as there’s no revenue coming in to pay for support agents. It’s a great choice for hobbyists and those with simple 3D animation needs, but if you’re considering animating professionally, then it’s worth looking at alternatives.
5. FlipBook (DigiCel)
FlipBook is considered a must for 2D animators, an option that combines a lot of choice in one, convenient place. Everything from lighting, to scanning to digital painting can be found in this perfectly formed piece of software support.
FlipBook is arguably the easiest professional 2D animation software out there. It doesn’t pretend to have the power of more advanced solutions, but puts forward a strong argument that it focuses on the offering the core tools you need for animation without confusing you with stuff you’ll rarely or never use.
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