Animation Software of 2021

Read ahead for valuable information about the top animation software on the market today.

Animation software is exciting to purchase. Such excitability might cause one to overlook the necessity of conducting research and engaging in comparison-shopping before buying, however. Fortunately, this handy guide to the best animation software of 2021 puts top features, product reviews, pricing, and types of animation software in one convenient location. Read ahead for valuable information about the top animation software on the market today.

Animation Software 101 - What Is It?

Most people understand what animation is because nearly every person of any age in the U.S. has seen a cartoon. Animated movies and TV shows have increased in popularity in recent years, however, thanks in part to advances in animation software technology. To understand more about animation software, it is first important to gain a little more insight into animation itself.

Animation creates an illusion of two or three-dimensional motion. This is commonly achieved by using a series of still pictures, or images. These still pictures are inspired by and consist of hand drawings (as seen in the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Disney), poses and even construction paper cutouts (such as the ones used in the South Park pilot episode). Once collected, or captured, the still images are connected sequentially and viewed at a rapid pace in consecutive order. The speed at which these images are viewed makes it appear as if the still objects are in literal real-time motion.

Animation software also allows for the creation of illusory motion albeit via a computerized or photographic frame-by-frame basis. For example, a single frame equates to one still-image. Frames are either imported from external sources (digital camera, etc.) or created inside the animation software itself. Consecutive frames are digitally connected in sequential order and witnessed by viewers as the animated movies and TV shows so wildly popular today.

Important Considerations

When shopping for animation software it is important to take several important aspects into consideration. Products and packages are available for beginner and intermediate-level animation enthusiasts, or hobbyists. Professional programs are available as well, and prices tend to differ accordingly. Free and paid options are available at all levels, however, even if most free versions of professional-grade animation software are limited-time trials.

Price is obviously an important consideration, but other aspects also warrant time spent on research and comparison-shopping. For example, what is your style when creating animation and does the software you are shopping meet your needs? When comparing prices, it is equally important to also read the labels. Some animation software is more expensive because it includes professional-grade features and tools you either need - or not. Conversely, some free software offers many more options than expected, while others are not compatible with your skillsets and needs. Is the software user-friendly or does it involve a time-consuming learning curve? Speaking of time, make sure to take enough of it to thoroughly research an animation software’s interoperability and compatibility with your computer’s operating system. Purchasing something you look forward to using only to find out you cannot use it after all is an avoidable disappointment if you consider all these important aspects before buying.

Most Common Users of Animation Software

Animation software is used by a wide range of people from beginner hobbyists to experienced professionals. Musicians creating videos for their original songs might learn to use animation software to save money on video costs down-the-line. Influencers might also use animation software when promoting certain brands. Animation software is also used for many professional commercials, advertisements, TV series and films as well. Just a few types of career professionals who use animation software today include.

  • Background, rendering, rigging, texture, and storyboard artists.
  • Image editors.
  • Character, 2D, 3D, and key frame animators.
  • Modelers.
  • Digital ink, paint, layout, and cleanup artists.

Comparing a Few Different Animation Software Types

2D and 3D animation software are popular and perhaps the most common types of animation software known to consumers. Many people choose to begin their creative journey with animation software by using 2D product options. 2D animation software programs tend to be more affordable and easier to grasp for people with little to no experience. Examples of excellent 2D animation software products include Animate CC, After Effects and Toon Boom Harmony.

3D animation software is the industry standard choice and is more involved than 2D software to both comprehend and operate. Maya offers a free educational license for its software, which is helpful and convenient if you meet the qualification requirements. Blender is a free program provided by Bloop, which also offers a free educational animation course. Additional information on top 2D and 3D animation software is available in the next section below.

Stop-motion animation was used to create the AT-AT Walkers attack on planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. Stop-animation involves placing objects (clay models, metal figures, etc.) in successive positions and photographing each position. The photographs are then strung together in rapid consecutive order to create the illusion of real-time motion.

Free and paid stop-motion animation software products are also available. Dragonframe sells for $295 as a download only and $305 for the downloadable program plus a Bluetooth controller. This is a great deal for a professional-grade stop-motion animation software program. Stop Motion Studio costs between only $4.99 and $9.99 depending on specific device and operating system compatibility. Stop Motion Studio and Filmora (free version) are designed for beginners, while Filmora Pro is a professional-grade program, which costs $149.99 (perpetual license) or $89.99 per year.

Top-3 Product Reviews and General Animation Software Pricing

Moho Pro is Mac-based award-winning 2D animation software program, which retails for $399. Its powerful rigging system and large content library are a few reasons Moho Pro was used in Oscar-nominated films. It has a somewhat confusing user interface (UI) and considerable learning curve, but once you figure it out your animation comes to life fast.

Cascadeur is the best 3D physics-based character animation software available. Priced at a reasonable $150 per year for pro-level features, Cascadeur also offers free, business and enter-prices-level packages. The program is complicated to learn but the company provides multiple helpful tutorials to offset this fact. Cascadeur is also created by Game developer Nekki and is designed to provide the features game makers and animators need.

Procreate works on the Apple iPad, is affordable ($9.99) and provides a mobile, all-in-one animation solution. Cross-platform and vector support are not provided but Procreate does offer multiple top features such as sketching, illustrating and GIF-looping in a familiar portable device.