If you are thinking about starting an adventure with animation, it is worth knowing the best free and paid programs for creators. It’s a useful skill, in a world where the image becomes the basic form of communication. So, what options are out there?
Animation software – what is it and how was it created?
Animation brings images to life, and animated films are the best example of it. Thanks to the illusion of movement created, you can get a great, eye-catching effect. The beginnings of animation date back to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1900, Léon Gaumont obtained a patent for stop motion animation. The first full-length film made entirely on a computer was the hit Toy Story in 1995. Although in the mid-1990s 3D animated films were a big technological novelty, they are indispensable in today’s cinema.
To create animations, not only software is used, but entire computer systems, the computing power of which allows you to generate realistic and eye-catching images. This does not mean, however, that it is impossible to create interesting, good-quality animations at home, both in flat (2D) and full three-dimensional form. Individual manufacturers offer paid and free animation programs that are intended for users of standard home equipment. Most of them can be accessed with just a few mouse clicks. So what is the best animation software?
Synfig – a free program for processing animated 2D vector graphics
If you are looking for a program to prepare a simple 2D animation, it is worth considering Synfig. It is free, openly licensed for Windows, Linux and Mac computers. Work in it is based on bitmaps or vector graphics. It functions on layers like other graphics programs. Thanks to this, even a novice user should not have major problems with implementing his drawing ideas. However, this does not mean that it is the easiest program to use. It will allow you to synchronize sound and even speech with the movement of the lips of animated characters. It also doesn’t require you to create frame-by-frame animations as the system does it on its own and smoothly.
An additional advantage is the extensive design of plugs and extensions, allowing you to significantly improve its functionality. The animations created with it will certainly make the message of each website more attractive.
Blender – a free 3D animation processing program
Blender is a proposition for those who are interested in free 3D animation programs. Like Synfig, it is released under a free license for all the most popular operating systems. The first version of the program was published in 1995, and since 2002 it has been available as free software. This was due to the purchase of the rights by the Blender Foundation, which acquired them from a bankrupt ownership company.
It is quite an advanced graphics program that allows you to create individual animations as well as entire movies. With its help, you can prepare both a 3D animation of a small town, a visualization of your dream house, and static graphics depicting whatever you can come up with. It is also worth considering using it when you plan to prepare a three-dimensional computer game. Don’t be put off by the custom user interface, which may seem difficult to learn at first – it’s just a matter of time and habit to learn how to use it.
Maya – the best software for creating animation, tool recommended for and by professionals
A solution dedicated for professional applications, opening the section of the best animation software, is “Maya”. It is the basis for creating film special effects and allows you to prepare any elements or characters from the very beginning. It is also used by producers of 3D games.
In addition to the standard modeling mesh, it also allows you to animate such phenomena as: movement of liquids, gasses or realistic-looking hair. The created elements of computer graphics with the help of the program can be transferred to film shots. The program uses intuitive tools, the efficient use of which can bring unimaginable and, above all, realistic results. It can be purchased both in a cheaper version, containing basic functions, and in a more expensive package, which provides all the possibilities that the manufacturer has prepared.
OpenToonz – a free 2D animation tool
If you are interested in a free 2D animation program, OpenToonz is worth getting to know. The tool is available under an open license. Drawing animation created with OpenToonz can be made on the basis of hand-drawn sketches. This is possible thanks to the built-in functions that allow you to draw vector contours based on scanned sketches. In turn, the available drawing, sketching and coloring tools can also be developed on the computer. An enhanced paid version is produced for advanced users and film studios.
K-3D – Intuitive and Easy-to-Learn Free 3D Modeling and Animation Tool
One of the easy-to-use 3D animation and modeling programs is K-3D. It has an intuitive and clear interface, and its unquestionable advantage is the possibility of extending the functionality by installing additional plugins. The program provides, among other things, a set of ready-made shapes. It supports object duplication, Bezier curves, and also offers an unlimited number of animation channels. A novice user will surely find a guide that will guide you through the basic functions and possibilities. If you are just starting your adventure with 3D animation, this program is definitely something you should consider.
Animaker – a good choice for beginner animation lovers
Are there any cartoon animation software that you don’t need to install on your computer? It turns out that yes! Animaker advertising itself as a “platform for beginners, amateurs and professionals” works in the cloud and offers basic tools especially for those who want to prepare their own animated films or presentations in a quick, easy and fun way. The application offers, among others, a character creator and over 1000 templates. It also includes an extensive animation library. Logging in is possible both with Facebook, Google account, and after prior registration.
Cinema 4D – an advanced tool for both beginners and advanced creators of animation
Cinema 4D is an advanced graphic program used for modeling animations and rendering materials in three dimensions. This software was used, among others, in the production of such blockbusters as Iron Man 3 or Spider-Man 3. With the numerous creative tools available in an easy-to-use interface, the only limitation when creating new objects is your imagination.
To see its functionality, you can download the demo version, which is available for Windows and Mac users. This version of Cinema 4D can be purchased with two types of subscription: 30-day and annual. The version extended with the Redshift add-on is respectively more expensive but you can also obtain a perpetual license.
Today’s technology, which makes the most advanced systems available to virtually everyone, allows you to prepare your own small amateur studio of animated movies, both in traditional and three-dimensional form, at a low cost. Animations are also increasingly used to create multimedia presentations or simply to make websites more attractive.
Animation programs differ in terms of advancement, intuitive use, and above all, price. Do not be put off by their apparent high degree of difficulty – there are many courses and tutorials on the web that will help you get through both the beginnings and the intricacies of later use.