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Top 10 Free Animation Software for 2023

November 2, 2023

free animation software

No matter your age, animation has somehow made its way into your heart. Today, anyone can create complex moving images at their fingertips with animation software

The earliest stages of animation began in the late 1800s when people used mirrors to reflect drawings and make them move. The next phase of animation can be traced back to the early 1900s when a French cartoonist created a short film using only hand-drawn characters on individual frames. Each frame was unique, with fluid movements animated as the images quickly flipped through.

Modern animation was introduced in 1995 when Toy Story became the first computer-animated, three-dimensional, feature-length film. After sketching individual motion photos, digital rendering revolutionized animation. It set the tone for what computers were capable of and how much time and money could be saved with virtual art. 

Animating can sound daunting. However, many companies and individual creatives use animation software to automate how their art comes to life. Animation software helps users create moving graphics, integrate 2D and 3D capabilities, and spice up corporate content and promotional materials. 

Best free animation software

Whether you’re looking to make basic instructional videos or full-fledged animation masterpieces, there is a free solution for you. 

The list below contains real-user reviews from the best animation software category page. It’s important to note that in the context of this list, vendors that offer a free trial are also considered to be free. To be included in this category, a solution must:

  • Provide tools for creating animations using 2D and/or 3D images
  • Combine with video editing or effects software
  • Allow importing media files from other programs or offer built-in drawing functionality

*This data was pulled from G2 on October 18, 2023. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity. 

1. Animaker

Animaker is a drag-and-drop animation and video-making platform featuring a free subscription plan. Animaker focuses on offering tools for beginners and professionals alike with diverse animated character customization, thousands of templates, and millions of stock videos and photos. 

What users like:

The user interface of Animaker is easy-to-use as well as user-friendly. Browsing through the various features and resources is easy, even for individuals new to animation software programs. The drag-and-drop capability makes it simple and allows you to add and organize elements within the animation timeline, enabling smooth customization and editing. Additionally, Animaker provides a number of animation effects, transitions, and audio alternatives to boost the overall look of your projects.”

- Animaker Review, Radhika S.

What users dislike:

There is no feature to cut audio. While there are lots of nice features, especially if I subscribe, I found the free version's limitations to be quite a drag. As an unsubscribed user, I often feel limited in my creativity because some of the best features are not available. Also, while the interface is quite beginner-friendly, I sometimes felt trapped by the complexity of some of the features, and text editing could be more flexible. I also wish there were more customization options for characters and backgrounds.

- Animaker Review, Anggy S.

2. Vyond

Vyond offers users a free trial to dip their toes into a platform built for professionals at all skill levels. With Vyond, you get prebuilt templates, drag and drop controls, dynamic transitions, royalty-free music, stock characters, and the flexibility to adapt to different uses.

What users like:

I have been using Vyond for many years since it was GoAnimate, and I absolutely love the product for explaining complex or dull topics. The ability to get my ideas from my brain into a publishable form is powerful. Their ever-expanding product provides the assets I need to create animations in one platform. And, as I can upload assets, I'm limited only by my imagination. I'm happy I can now quickly unleash my creativity in the Vyond platform, as every other product I tried could not compete!

- Vyond Review, Marvin F.

What users dislike:

I can only think of two things that I am not thrilled with while using Vyond software. I would love to be able to create custom clothing for the characters that includes a company logo, etc. The only other thing is that when exporting a video, it converts the colors just a bit, so brand colors may look a little off. We have had to figure out what hex code to use for our brand colors in order for them to output in the correct color.”

- Vyond Review, Deanna G.

3. Renderforest 

Renderforest is an all-in-one platform that offers video, logo, graphics, mockups, and website capabilities. A free Renderforest plan gives users unlimited 360p video exporting, access to hundreds of thousands of stock clips, a library of music tracks, and more.

What users like:

“I love the number of templates Renderforest has to offer. There are so many different kinds, and it makes it so fast and simple to create all my videos for Facebook posts and ads. I only use Renderforest for making videos so far, but I am very impressed with the other options they have like the graphic designer, logo maker, and even website builders!”

- Renderforest Review, Kristen C.

What users dislike:

The selection can feel a little stale at times. I'd like if new templates were added more often.”

- Renderforest Review, Mario M.

4. Powtoon

Powtoon is a visual communication platform offering creative tools for short videos and animations. Powtoon gives users access to professionally designed templates, characters, clips, audio, full scenes, and more with paid options and a free plan. 

What users like:

“Powtoon continuously improves its core product, making a great product even better day by day. I use it to develop presentations, tutorials, and screen recordings that keep audiences engaged. The design canvas is easy to use, and the characters, videos, music, etc., make it easy to tell compelling stories.”

- Powtoon Review, Craig E.

What users dislike:

Personally, the only thing that's not so great is that some times the website gets a little slow when your video is too heavy.

- Powtoon Review, Catalina J.

5. 3ds Max Design

3ds Max Design is modeling, rendering, and animation software that offers realistic animation behavior, character rigging, keyframe and procedural tools, sophisticated particle effects, and several third-party extensions. They offer a free trial to get a taste. 

What users like:

“3ds Max has one of the best control tools that can help someone sculpt almost anything. Default rendering is equipped with nearly everything that’s needed for the process. And on the other side, we can use other 3rd party rendering engines very easily.”

- 3ds Max Design Review, Jitendra C.

What users dislike:

“It is a little tricky to get used to at first. It is like learning a new language with all the buttons and rendering. You definitely need tutorials when you first start out.”

- 3ds Max Design Review, Aylin A.

6. Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is a 3D animation software that offers keyframe animation, life-like characters, simulation building, object tracking, flexible rig building, cartoon styling, and all the animation basics. You can get started with a free trial.

What users like:

The tools in Cinema 4D can be used for a wide range of 3D applications. Users of the program can create basic to complex models quickly, regardless of their experience level. This program not only simplifies modeling, but also adds lighting, textures, and animation. If you would like to create a photorealistic image or a cartoon, this program can help.

- Cinema 4D Review, Dennis F.

What users dislike:

While Cinema 4D has a wide range of built-in tools, some advanced features and specialised workflows may require additional third-party plugins, which adds to the overall cost.

- Cinema 4D Review, Pranathi P.

7. KeyShot

KeyShot animation tools support all major 3D file formats and create photorealistic renderings, simple model animations, and interactive visuals. You also get access to environment presets, texture mapping, complex lighting, and more. Keyshot offers a free trial to get you started.

What users like:

“It integrates seamlessly with Creo Parametric, my primary CAD software, which makes the creation process even more efficient. I'm impressed with how KeyShot can take a 3D model from Creo Parametric and transform it into a realistic still image or animation in just a few steps.

The interface is incredibly user-friendly with support for drag-and-drop operations to help you quickly create stunning visuals. Additionally, the library of materials and lighting options allows me to customize my renders even further. With its powerful features and ease of use, KeyShot is definitely worth investing in.”

- Keyshot Review, Ammar S.

What users dislike:

Keyshot lacks in some minor features like being unable to detect multiple parts of a 3d model. It usually mixes them together into a single model, and therefore can't assign different textures to the different parts.

- Keyshot Review, Subrata S.

8. Moovly

Moovly provides a cloud-based drag-and-drop interface to create animations, upload personal media, export content for publishing, synchronize objects on a timeline, and collaborate. Their free subscription plan allows users to create videos in the Moovly studio and use over a million free stock assets.

What users like:

As a non-creative micropreneur who does not have any background on graphic design but appreciates well-made videos, Moovly allows me to create captivating videos for my business thanks to the numerous templates available. It's a one-stop shop for me to create my videos ensuring that I get crisp, quality videos for all my visual merchandising needs.”

- Moovly Review, Pirkko A.

What users dislike:

“Mastering complex animations and advanced techniques may require some additional time and effort. Users looking for highly intricate animations may need to invest more time into learning the platform's more advanced features. Also while Moovly offers basic video editing features, users seeking advanced video editing functionalities may find the platform lacking in this aspect.” 

- Moovly Review, Narek T.

9. Modo

Modo is a modeling, rendering, texturing, and animation software. Modo offers extensive modeling toolsets, hybrid renderers, workflow systems, machine learning, and tools to create 2D and 3D animations. Try it out for free.

What users like:

“Modo's modeling interface, navigation, and toggling hotkeys altogether make for a smooth work experience. Modeling is very fast, and setting up materials and rendering is also seamless. Modo has a great community of people willing to help with troubleshooting as well.”

- Modo Review, Jason B.

What users dislike:

“Animation playback can be slow at times on scenes with multiple characters. While Modo does have painting and sculpting tools, they could be updated to increase their usability.”

- Modo Review, William V.

10. Harmony

Harmony is 2D animation software specializing in lighting, shading, and special effects. It offers advanced brush engines, cut-out rigging, 2D/3D integration, deformers for more texture, and sound management. Harmony also provides users a free trial of all their subscription plans.

What users like:

“What I like the best about Harmony is the way the software gives you so much power to create professional animations and story-boarding. Its user interface is easy to use and flexible.”

- Harmony Review, Shawn P.

What users dislike:

“When I got my hands on Harmony, things looked really difficult. The learning curve was hard, and some more documentation would be very helpful in the future for new users who want to use Harmony.”

- Harmony Review, Stewart T.

And scene!

This list may be over, but your animation journey is just beginning. No matter your skill level, animation software takes you many steps ahead and helps create attention-grabbing and engaging content.

Interested in what I drew up here? Learn more about how to make animated infographics to strengthen your marketing ROI.

animation software To the drawing board!

Get your picture in motion by bringing your content to life with animation software.

animation software To the drawing board!

Get your picture in motion by bringing your content to life with animation software.

Top 10 Free Animation Software for 2023 Whether you’re looking to make basic instructional videos or a total animation masterpiece, check out this free animation software list for your options.
Alexandra Vazquez Alexandra Vazquez is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2. She received her Business Administration degree from Florida International University and is a published playwright. Alexandra's expertise lies in writing for the Supply Chain and Commerce personas, with articles focusing on topics such as demand planning, inventory management, consumer behavior, and business forecasting. In her spare time, she enjoys collecting board games, playing karaoke, and watching trashy reality TV.

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