Do you know what kind of content users consume most? Yes! You are right – Animated content. That’s why companies are spending a lot on visual content and software.
In my early days, when I used to work with big marketing agencies, we got clients who wanted animated videos to showcase their product to the customers, and guess what? The user engagement and conversion increased by more than 40%.
In almost every niche, animation plays an important role from introduction video to the knowledge base. We need animation everywhere and hence the requirement of animators and motion designers is increasing.
Either you are a freelancer, beginner, or expert, here I will guide you to the best animation software both free and paid so that you can deliver the most to your client or employer.
What is Animation Software?
You can make motion graphics from visual files with the help of animation software. They are basically used in movies, ads, and games. The users can also add additional effects on their 2D, 3D, or computer graphics.
I have checked and tested these 5 tools with my friend Joseph who is a motion graphic designer and has around 10+ years of experience in the same industry.
Here are some essential features which every animation software should have.
- Convert the motion graphics from 2D/3D files and add some functionality like voice over or music.
- Offer built in drawing tools.
- Integration with third party applications to make your work easy and give an engaging 2D/3D video.
- Ease to use and great workflow.
- Library of pre-animated objects and creators to make your work easy.
We checked these features in all the software and made a perfect guide of the best Animation software for freelancers or working professionals.
If you directly want to jump in our top pick, here it is – Visme animation software.
Best Animation Software – Top 5 Pick
Here is the list of the top 5 animation software.
1. Unity – 3D animation for gamers
If you are into the gaming industry, this is a go-to software where you can create both 2D and 3D games. This will also help in enhancing the experience, model, and design. You can opt into various plans according to your requirement and niche. I would recommend Unity Pro where you can give immense experience to users with the real-time 3D video editor.
According to the stats, Unity has around 15M+ website users per month among which 14% are from the USA, 6% for China and Turkey.
I used Unity pro to create some versatile applications with industry standards which cost me around $1800 per year but trust me it is worth the cost.
Features of Unity
- Real time preview – You can edit your 2D/3D files with a live preview of your work. This makes life easy because you don’t have to render the video every time to see your live work.
- Unity is integrated with many platforms which makes it a complete product. You can deploy your content over 20 platforms including various OS, consoles and VR platforms.
- Even if you are a beginner, you can develop your skill sets with the help of Unity learning resources. I must say that the content is really good and can help you to achieve your goals.
- Cloud Diagnostics – This will capture various errors, collect users feedback and send you the report for the same, so that you can improve your product.
- Analytics – Unity comes with Live-ops Analytics which give you all the insights about user behaviour and engagement which will help you in improving experience for users.
- The UI is easy to use and basically the best tool if you are into game development
- Integration with middlewares which make the audio integration simple.
- The support document can resolve all your bugs and doubts.
- If you are using any other engine for the game development, you must know that they are very limited in functionality but there will not be such problems with Unity.
- As Unity is expanding, there are lots of new features coming which makes it sometimes complicated for users to choose which plan is suitable for them.
- There is some scope of improvement in light bake features.
- You don’t have any access to the constructor and destructor of Monobehaviour class.
- Reverse engineering is difficult in this product.
- Playstation VR
- 1.5M + Monthly active creators
- Royalty-free – You don’t have to pay any royalty
- Available in 9 different languages.
There are lots of options available according to your requirements. I opted for Unity pro which costs me $1800/year per sear but for game developers, I must say it’s worth it. These are the other pricing available.
My testimonial on Unity
If you are totally in-game development no matter which platform you are using – Utility is for you. Thanks to their learning modules, I personally can develop some beginner games.
If you want animation software just for social media or visual graphics this tool is for you. This is a cloud-based online animation software that helps you in creating social media graphics, infographics, and many more things for your website or online presence.
The animation and graphics library, templated and stock photos help you in creating the best 2D animation which can engage your customers easily.
According to the stats, Visme has around 3M+ users with 20% from the United States and 10% from India.
I used the software for a month and got really impressed with the impressive charts and infographics. The software is really useful when you want to make quick presentations or 2D animations. My user engagement in social media increased by 25% when I started uploading short videos and animations.
Features of Visme:
- Presentation library – They have preloaded libraries which you can use and make your quick presentation. According to stats, this helps users to save almost 79% of their time.
- People love what they see and hence Visme infographic and charts can make your content engaging and users will spend more time on their website.
- You can export your files in many formats like PDF, PNG, MP4, GIF, HTLM5, and even Powerpoint which gives a powerhand to the users.
- Variety of charts and animations
- You can share your project with the team and they can make the changes too which automatically get saved into the cloud.
- My favourite feature: Brand Kit. Here you can save your color, logo and everything for future use. This helps me a lot in making my content in the same format.
- Support is fantastic. They always help you with all the bugs and queries.
- No matter what your business niche is. The content is very well uniquely crafted.
- You can still use some advanced animation features while being just a beginner.
- Huge range of easily editable elements.
- You can download the animation when you are even offline
- Pricing is really less as compare to the competition
- Not useful for advanced animation.
- You can’t develop the 3d Games here.
- Sometimes when there are more than 2 people using the same file, it becomes laggy.
Top Visme Customers:
- Duke Energy
- 4.5/5 reviews on Capterra
- More than 1M+ monthly active users
You can opt-in for the free version of Visme, but if you want to try the premium version you have to pay a minimum of $12/month per user.
My testimonial on Visme
According to my research, this is the best software for simple animation tasks or to increase your social media visibility. I will 100% recommend this for light animation tasks and basic designing.
Third on my list is Crello, 50,000+ templates and pre-animated elements make this one of the finest editing software. I also recommend this to beginners who don’t have much experience in working on advanced animation software.
According to the stats, Crello has around 3M+ monthly traffic with more than 14% from Russia and 8% from brazil. Only 6% of the users are from the USA.
You can also download the mobile app for Crello and make some catchy graphics there too, I have tried it also, and trust me it’s very user-friendly. Overloading of the feature doesn’t affect the workflow of the mobile app.
Features of Crello
- More than 50,000+ free templates make this a friendly tool for beginners.
- You can download the MP4 format
- You can share your designs directly to your social media handles.
- If you want some additional customization, crello gives you power to upload your own fonts, design or images.
- You have access to more than 100M+ stock photos.
- Crello remove background feature helps you make a transparent background in a few seconds.
- You can add speech bubbles – generally used for testimonials.
- You can create the animated videos in various formats.
- Mobile apps are a plus point where you can create designs instantly.
- Ease of use, you don’t need technical knowledge to use this product.
- Brand kit personalise the designs according to your brand logo and color pallets.
- Crello has its own library, you won’t find those stock images anywhere else.
- You can create a workspace and share the designs with your team.
- The product is available in 10+ different languages.
I read various reviews on the internet and trust me every customer is a happy customer but still I got few:
- You can’t do advanced animation on crello.
- Sometimes, your designs take some lag time to download.
- There are lots of issues in Android mobile app
- Crello can add one option where the user can download the image or creative in any size or quality.
Top Crello Customers:
- 4.7/5 rating on G2 and Capterra
- 20M+ created designs
- 2M+ worldwide users
- 35000+ designs created everyday
The starter pack is free for all the users whereas the pro plan will cost you $7.99 per month.
My testimonial on Crello
If we compare all the software, Crello free plan has a maximum number of features. If you are a freelancer, small business owner Crello is for you.
4. Adobe Spark
If you are a beginner, Adobe spark can help you in creating the basic animated videos on your phone itself. There are various types of templates available on their IOS app which can create videos with text, animated videos and add some amazing effects too.
According to the stats, Adobe Spark has a 4.9 rating on the App Store with more than 1M+ happy users. It comes under the top #20 apps under the creative and design category.
Features of Adobe Spark:
- You will get templates in various formats from which you can create stories, web pages and animated videos.
- You will get free stock images and graphics.
- You can directly share your files to various social media channels.
- Even if you are a beginner, you will love the UI and UX. The product is very user friendly and super easy to use.
- You can sync your work on multiple devices.
- The product is fast and always connected with the cloud, which automatically saves all your work.
- You can sign in with your Adobe account.
- There are a variety of fonts, templates and graphics which helps you to stand out online.
- Speed – All thanks to great UI, you can create posts and videos instantly as compared to other softwares.
- You can link your creations to your email newsletters which is a unique feature for bloggers.
- The free version has limited customization.
- If we compare the paid version with other softwares, you will find it more expensive because it’s an Adobe product.
- No trial for paid version.
- You can’t track change histories which might be useful when you work as a team.
- Lots of bugs in the Android version.
Adobe Spark Stats:
- 4.9 rating on Apple app store.
- 175k+ Rating on app store
- 1M+ downloads worldwide.
Adobe Spark Pricing:
There are three plans in Adobe spark.
- Starter Plan: Free of cost but give you access to basic templates only.
- Individual Plan: This will cost you $9.99 per month and give you access to premium ingredients.
- Team Plan: The pricing for the same is $19.99 per month which can help you in organizing and managing multiple users.
My testimonial on Adobe Spark
For beginners, this is a perfect tool because you can create multiple posts from your mobile app itself. I found the team plans expensive but they really provide value for the same.
We all know this product, right? If you want some animated video for your social media or an animated featured image for your blog post, this product is for you.
With more than 200M+ users and a maximum from the United States, you can tell how much users love Canva. Thanks to its simplicity and UI, a beginner can design some amazing animated photos or videos in minutes.
I put Canva in no 5 because the product is new in animated videos. It can let you download your file in MP4 and GIF format but it has only six animation styles. Trust me, these six animation styles are enough if you are a beginner.
Features of Canva:
- You can invite your team members and can work on a cloud platform where you can see who made which changes.
- Brand Kit helps you to maintain the colors.
- You will get millions of free and paid photos – This feature is available for both canva free as well as paid users.
- The six animated styles are unique and can do all the work for beginners.
- You can make different folders which help you to organize your work.
- Canva also comes with a scheduler where you can schedule your post on different social media platforms.
- You will get a 30 days free trial.
- If you just want to use only certain graphics, you can take pay per use. You don’t need to take the entire paid plan.
- A great selection of templates which you can use.
- You can download the design in various formats like MP4, gid, png, jpeg etc.
- In the paid version, you can adjust the size of the image and also download the transparent background image.
- You can use drag and drop features which makes your task super easy.
- From all the softwares out there, canva free version gives you the most out of it.
- Canva is 100% free for NGOs and teachers.
- I tried the mobile version and it’s difficult to edit there because of overloading of the features. Also sometimes, it crashes.
- You will get only six non-customizable animation styles.
- The animation feature is only available in the paid plan.
- Some Canva’s social media dimension is outdated and the team needs to change it.
Top Canva Customers:
- More than 150M+ traffic per month.
- 4.7/5 rating over the internet including capterra, trust pilot etc.
- Canva Recognized as “Overall Design Collaboration Company of the Year” in 2021 RemoteTech Breakthrough Awards.
Canva has two paid options: Pro and Enterprise. Canva Pro plan will cost you $12.99 for the first user and then $6.99 for every additional user. Whereas, Canva Enterprise starts with $30 per month.
My testimonial on Canva
I must say the simplest graphics tool for unskilled users – Just watch a youtube video and you will be an expert in using Canva. For a team it can be expensive but if you are a freelancer or a small business owner just go for it.
Our Top Picks
This is our conclusion. Here are our top picks according to your expertise and what type of requirements you want.
Unity is the best animation software for advance and game development.
Adobe Spark is the best animation software for beginners.
Visme is the best budget animation software.
Types of animation software
Rising from the primitive stage of scattered computer graphics, computer animation has paved its journey to deliver a plethora of services.
In the 21st century, when everything is evolving at a revolutionary rate, there is ample animation software available for use. Every person can choose their preferred animation platforms, the available choices range from 3D, 2D, and varied sorts of motion animation.
Well-built animation software has such versatile services that it can target both beginner stage animators and experienced clientele. That is the reason it is necessary to browse and choose the best animation software that ticks all your requirements.
Below is the list of different types of animation software and you cannot afford to skip this list if you want to know which animation software type suits you best.
1. Traditional animation software
Traditional animation software is nothing but 2D animation software i.e. the old school classic animation which everybody knows about. They can also be referred to as hand-drawn animation.
In previous times animators used the technique of cel animation which is a renowned animation technique where characters are drawn frame by frame and then ultimately transferred to clear sheets known as cels but in the 1990s the animation sector went through a transition period in which cels were replaced by scanned drawings into computers and then they transitioned to eliminate the use of any sort of paper and drawing directly using computer devices.
So all in all traditional software are not entirely analog or entirely digital but a blend of both of them but the significant characteristic of this hand-drawn animation software is that no matter what platform is used, the animation is done frame by frame utilizing the same tactics as they were used in traditional times as in cels.
Now to name a few traditional animation software that is running efficiently are:
- Toon Boom Harmony: It is an advanced software appropriate for frame-by-frame animation techniques as well as other animation techniques. It is a package of advanced tools, rigging tools, and camera effects.
- TVPaint: Yet another software that offers hand-drawn animation techniques on its platform.
2. 3D animation software
3D animation is the most popular animation software in today’s age. This computer-generated imagery is majorly used for films and feature films and has become a common name in the TV and short film industry as well.
Ever imagined what goes behind the scenes in an animator? So basically it uses a character rig or a digital puppet to assign a character at a particular place and then makes use of motion paths to create movement between different poses, the animator then goes through the frames and edits them to come in sync and look realistic.
That is the reason this animation is used in the creation of films and TV shows. The 3D animation software has such versatile fields to cater to, ranging from video games to live-action films.
Additionally, one cannot ignore the fact that 3D animations are a really cumbersome process and require a lot of time and hard work to accomplish projects. This software would require separate experts for separate areas of work, like experts for rigging the character with bones and controls, animating it, and then finalizing the texture.
These advanced and modeled characters in 3D animation are further fitted with a skeleton to allow movement and animators can move models with the help of skeletons. It can be clearly inferred that computer animation isn’t a child’s play and requires an artistic approach to achieve targets.
When the process of animation comes to an end, the computer takes one frame at a time and renders it making it a long process that needs time but if the picture quality is up to the mark this process speeds up.
One can spot a lot of differences between traditional software and 3D animation software and choose what suits them best according to their requirements.
3. Stop motion animation software
Stop motion animation software is one such animation software that is adored by everybody who is into animations. Stop motions have plenty of options but all of them revolve around manipulating real-world objects. When real-life objects are moved a little and then clicked at every frame, they create a sequence that appears to be an illusion of the object moving. At expert level stop motion animation, an igged puppet can be shot on a miniature stage to create effects.
Although the animation looks lively and realistic, the process is extremely monotonous and boring for some people.
There are many different types of stop-motion animation, naming a few:
- Action figures
- Cut out
All these stop-motion variants might have different names but they have an important common factor that is they all are shot frame by frame and if one frame is messed up due to unforeseeable circumstances, it is a nightmare to fix the whole sequence then and one would have to start all over again, so all these stop-animation variants require a lot of patience and will to keep going.
4. Motion Graphics
Motion graphics is an animation form that inculcates both 2D and 3D magic, this animation software focuses on making dynamic presentations by providing movement to logos and creating moving illustrations.
Being extensively used in TV commercials, sports events, news channels, and other TV productions, motion graphics are becoming the next-gen animation software for all fields.
Motion graphics normally include animating texts, images, and even video clips using the keyframing technique and syncing them to provide a smooth transition between frames. But it is also important to note that up to the mark character animation is not the designated field of motion graphics but all other animation principles are applicable to motion graphics too.
Let us go through some of the best platforms that offer motion graphics platforms.
Cinema 4D: Cinema 4D is a go-to platform for animators looking for a perfect platform. It is a perfect choice for 2D film production since it is built with motion graphics in mind.
After Effects: After effects is a platform for 2D animation using motion graphics. It’s a perfect platform for people comfortable with the Adobe scenario.
5. 2D animation
One might ponder on the fact that what makes 2D animation different from hand-drawn or traditional software, so the main difference can be that 2D characters are built with a proper bone system and movement control to facilitate character movement just like in 3D characters.
Although there are platforms that allow people to blend hand-drawn animation with 2D techniques to bring out a better effect and a much more realistic viewing experience. So, all in all, your character can have bones and have other parts of the character drawn by hand.
There are some extraordinary platforms that help animators work efficiently using 2D animation techniques and let us go through some of them:
Toon Boom Harmony: It is an ideal software for 2D animation i.e. facilitates both frames by frame and rig-based methods.
Adobe Animate CC: One of the most popular animation software in the market is Adobe Animate CC. Dating back a long time back, this is one of the best animation software.
What features to look for in an animation software?
Animation adds a pinch of excitement in our ever-evolving world and today there is plenty of animation software available online to make animation easier for everybody. This software has a variety of tools available for budding animators as well as experienced UI designers and caters to everybody interested in animating.
This software allows its users to create motion graphics that too in 2 dimensions or 3 dimensions or even hand-drawn graphics. This software always comes with options to add special effects and music to add a live touch to these graphics.
This animation software mainly aims at animators working on generating commercials, graphic posts, TV shows, or people working on promotional content for websites. But some of this animation software is extremely beginner-friendly too and comes with tutorials and easy-to-use tools to make beginners learn the process.
This software can be easily integrated with other platforms like 3D modeling software, video editing software, and anything that helps you in creating your required animations. There are plenty of freelancers and graphic designers working on this animation software to get desired results on a budget, but the only constraint animators or graphic designers feel is that of choosing the best animation software platform that caters to their specific needs accurately.
So, we have curated this list of things to keep in mind before choosing your perfect animation software.
Anybody looking for animation software needs to understand his/her primary requirements first i.e. if they are a beginner they might require software geared with easy to use tools and tutorials and if they are an experienced graphic designer, they should opt for software packed with animation and interactivity features to propagate eye-catching designs.
Now, people working in the field of editing Tv shows or promotion of brands need to have extensive tools like elastic and curvy editing, audio lip-syncing tools, facial free for deforming tools, and many more. So software like Autodesk motion builder works best for professionals and on the other hand, growing animators can use platforms like Maya which provide them with guidance and an easy interface.
2. Cost friendliness
One of the major aspects people look at before subscribing to any animation software is feasibility. This software has such a versatile price range that it makes a buyer scratch his head, their prices vary from providing free services to charging thousands.
For beginners exploring their luck in the animation field, try open-source platforms so you can experience and learn animation without creating a hole in your pocket. But if you work as a professional and want top-notch tools, then go for the ones with the best feature listings and versatile tools.
3. Your device’s compatibility
Most animation software comes with a predefined list of system requirements and it is preferred for interested users to check the software’s system requirements before paying for it. In most cases, system requirements are listed on the software’s website so that the users have a clear idea about their system compatibility with the software.
Some platforms also offer android and ios versions which need to be looked at before moving forward. Make sure you select software that runs on your device hassle-free.
4. Plenty of tools
More the number of animation tools a software provides, the more its demand increases among graphic designers. There are specific tools for performing specific tasks like w indeed modeling, animation, rendering, and texturing tools for 3D graphics or videos.
Some basic tools to look for in animation software should be sculpting tools, grease pencil feature, modeling and rendering tools, video editing tools, simulation as well as VFX.
5. Tutorials and trials
If you are a beginner and want to learn animation from its roots then try going through some tutorials on youtube and choose the platform which is easiest to use. For instance, adobe character animator works best for beginners and provides them with in-built services so that they don’t have to go through the struggle.
As I told you, it totally depends on your skills and requirement that which product is best for you. If you just need a 2D design or some animated files for your social media, you should go for basic products like Canva and Adobe Spark. They are fast, reliable, and can create attractive designs.
If you are a game developer and want all-in-one animation software, then nothing can beat Unity. It is one of the industry’s favorite products for such a task.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will answer them for sure. 🙂