Best 2D Animation Software – The Ultimate Guide

Best 2D Animation Software – The Ultimate Guide
Best 2D Animation Software

2D animation is a prevalent art form that can bring characters and stories digitally to life. You can make fun cartoons educational explainer videos or animated marketing materials. High-quality software for 2D animation is vital.

But, with all the alternatives available it can be a challenge to pick the best tool. In this post, we’ll guide you through the strengths and benefits of both free and paid 2-D animated platforms. Therefore, you can choose the most suitable for your requirements and budget. Let’s take a look.

Top Paid Tools

While free software can be a good starting point, paid 2D animation software often provides a better user experience with more advanced features, ongoing support, and greater stability – making them worthwhile investments for serious animators. Here are some of the top-paid options to consider:

1. Linearity Move

Linearity Move is a vector animation platform designed specifically for creators at all levels. It features a unique, beginner-friendly interface that lets users convert static images into animations in a single touch using Auto Animate. Since it is a highly scalable graphic design program that seamlessly integrates with Linearity Curve. The cost-effective Pro plan is priced at $7.99/month and includes a vast inventory of assets and priority assistance. Linearity Move reduces production costs but does not compromise on quality, which makes it ideal for animation-based marketing content. The extensive resources for learning assist animators from all levels realize their visions of creativity.

2. Toon Boom Harmony

Toon Boom Harmony is an industry-leading 2D animation software used by professionals worldwide. It offers highly advanced tools for creating professional-grade animations, realistic shading, effects, and lip-syncing. Users can choose between traditional or cut-out animation workflows. Multiple pricing tiers, excellent community support, and regular software updates ensure Harmony remains on the cutting edge of animation technology. However, its extensive feature set and hefty price tag may be prohibitive for casual users or small studios.

3. Moho Pro

Unlike subscription-based options, Moho Pro offers a one-time purchase of $399.99, making it more cost-effective for long-term use. It provides an instinctive interface that is beginner-friendly alongside powerful tools like automatic lip-syncing and a 2D rigging system. A free 30-day trial allows users to test-drive Moho Pro. While the upfront investment is attractive, it lacks the community resources of industry leaders. Still, for the budget-conscious animator, Moho Pro delivers professional-grade capabilities.

4. Adobe Animate

Originally called Flash Professional, Adobe Animate is a benchmark in 2D animation used globally by studios and hobbyists. Users get seamless integration with other Adobe apps as part of the Creative Cloud package starting at $22.99/month. Animate boasts highly advanced rigging, expressive characters, and the ability to create interactive animations. However, its extensive feature set has a steep learning curve. Fortunately, Adobe offers a robust support system through documentation, tutorials, and active online communities to aid the animation journey. Overall, Animate empowers creators with industry-standard tools.

5. Cartoon Animator 5

Cartoon Animator 5 is both powerful and accessible, with an intuitive interface and extensive learning resources suitable for all skill levels. For $149, users gain a vast library of animated assets, professional-quality animation tools including motion capture, and the ability to convert live-action footage into animated characters. However, some advanced functionality requires further purchases. Still, for the price, Cartoon Animator 5 delivers a polished experience for character and commercial animation. Its ease of use makes it ideal for casual creators and classrooms.

6. Animaker

As a cloud-based platform, Animaker focuses on simplifying the animation process. The basic $12.50/month plan allows the creation of explainer and whiteboard videos using pre-built characters and templates. An extensive asset library, intelligent features like automated lip-syncing, and the ability to export 4K videos empower non-designers. While it lacks some professional tools, Animaker remains compelling for marketers and educators on a budget. Multiple price tiers, a generous free option, and responsive customer support also make Animaker accessible to all.

7. Clip Studio Paint

Clip Studio Paint is a jack-of-all-trades 2D creative software rather than a dedicated animation program. For illustrations, manga, and comics, its realistic brushes and native file format make it a standard. Some animation capabilities also exist throughout its timeline. A $54 one-time purchase unlocks all features. While not as fully featured as paid animation suites, Clip Studio Paint remains a worthwhile investment for visual storytellers working across mediums. An active online community provides further value to users at all experience levels.

Additional Read

Top 2D Animation Companies In The Business

Top Free Tools

Now let’s understand the top free tools that can assist you in the process.

1. OpenToonz

OpenToonz is a powerful professional 2D animation software used globally in studios. As an open-source program, it offers highly advanced vector and raster tool sets for animators of all experience levels. Features include a robust bone rigging system, automatic keyframe interpolation, and timeline integration. Constant updates from an engaged developer community also ensure it remains on the cutting edge of technology. With no monetary investment required, OpenToonz delivers industry-grade creativity without cost barriers.

2. Pencil2D

As a free and open-source option, Pencil2D remains one of the most approachable tools for total beginners to explore the foundations of 2D animation. It utilizes a simple interface that introduces users to concepts like layers, drawing, tweening, and audio implementation through a minimal learning curve. While basic in scope compared to paid suites, Pencil2D cultivates new talent through its ease of adoption and active online manuals/tutorials. Testing animation waters without investment proves a risk-free starting point.

3. Synfig Studio

Like OpenToonz, Synfig Studio provides high-caliber professional tools to users at no cost. Advanced vector and bitmap tool sets alongside bone-based character rigging simplify workflows. An extensive feature set handles complex productions through numerous timeline layers, gradient fills, automated lip-sync, and path deformation. Rigorous quality testing from developers ensures stability. Overall, Synfig Studio delivers seasoned capabilities on par with elite commercial programs, freely welcoming creatives of any skill or budget.

4. Krita

Krita features robust and customizable tools such as digital painting and illustration software. These include an extensive selection of high-fidelity brushes, layers, filters, and advanced features like mask tools. Its timeline also supports frame-by-frame animation through intuitive keyframe implementation. Regular updates further optimize the toolset for visual storytelling across static and motion mediums. Krita remains an industry-standard option for professional artists to hone their craft at no charge.

5. Blender

While primarily known as a 3D animation software, Blender contains robust 2D animation tools as well through its timeline and keyframe system. Users gain advanced capabilities for rigging, simulations, and workflow automation. A huge online community also provides continual learning resources to help animate everything from still illustrations to complex productions. As a free and open-source platform, Blender removes all financial barriers to honing hard skills.

6. Powtoon

A notable free option, Powtoon specializes in simplified explainer videos, presentations, and digital content. Users gain pre-built templates, characters, backgrounds, and a WYSIWYG drag-and-drop interface optimized for speed. Basic multimedia incorporation and output suit educational or marketing needs. An accessible free tier and paid upgrades make it flexible for all. Although limited in scope, Powtoon proves highly useful to communication professionals on constrained budgets.

Final Thoughts
In summary, both paid and free 2D animation options exist at all experience levels and budgets. While commercial suites provide more bells and whistles, creativity requires no monetary investment. Choosing software boils down to compatibility with individual skills, creativity goals, and monetary constraints. By understanding these various platforms, animators can select the most appropriate tool to bring innovative stories and characters to life.


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