2D Animation Software Programs
Toon Boom Studio 4 Toon Boom Studio is at the top when it comes to animation software for internet users. It is a practical application made by animators for animators. If you want to create your own original animations then it is a perfect choice.
Animationish Developed with the assumption that entertainment programs should not be too complicated to produce effective and funny cartoons, Animationish is an excellent program for learning the basics of animation.
Flip Boom Toon Boom producers created this animation program with children in mind. It is a simple program to get a handle on. The control output has been reduced to make it as easy as possible for children to understand.
Adobe Flash has been around a while in various different forms. It has the advantage of being simple to use, but lacks some tools that really would benefit designers and animators. This explains the reason Flash fails to get recognition from most of the top animators. A bit pricey and not ideal for cartoon animation.
After Effects Although primarily used for compositing and effects, the software can create animation. But to simply use this for animation only would be a waste as it is expensive, however it does deserve to be on the list as it can be used for animation.
Pencil Pencil is an animation program that allows both vector and bitmap drawings. It’s as though Photoshops drawing tools were incorporated into Flash. The software here has been reduced to provide essential elements, which means that it is an excellent introduction to animation software.
Synfig The designers of Windows only Synfig have high expectations for their animation software to be used to create animations of cinematic quality. After seeing an impressive demo, it looks as though they are not far from their target. Synfig can create complex lighting and camera effects. As the animator it is your responsibility to use them to their maximum potential.
CreaToon Again here is another animation windows only program using a cutout method similar to animation software Toon Boom. The program does seems a little less refined, but with the added ability of using bitmap images in the program, does make life easier.
Toon Boom Digital Pro As software animation goes, Toon Boom Digital Pro is aimed strictly at professionals, as its price indicates. It has the proof to back it up. A comprehensive list includes TV and movies created with Toon Boom Digital Pro. Internet gurus Bernard Derriman and Adam Phillips make use of this animation software.
Toon Boom Studio Express This simplified version of Toon Boom Studio is an animation software program suitable for beginners. It has limits in that only a single scene can be created at a time. However you can simply choose to purchase Express and upgrade later to Studio should you need it.
SWiSH SWiSH was originally created to take full of the open.Swf Flash format. Initially billed as a cheaper alternative to Flash, SWiSH is now a reliable Windows-only text software animation package in its own right. It allows you to readily create splendid swooping effects and then export them.
Ulead Gif Animator GIF animator is really old school. Gif animations generally are almost extinct on the Web as Flash and DSL speeds have become nearly universal. It is a Windows application and does not work under Vista. This is one animation program that will make you want to party like it was 1999.
TV Paint TV paint was a solid software animation program so when it purchased the Mirage name, they combined the two packages into one program and called it TV paint. To many animators this was a good move. TV paint is a solid design level software for animation and has a professional version also.
Plastic Animation Paper Denmark brings us the next exhilarating animation program. Plastic Animation Paper is intended as a substitute for a traditional light box/paper combo animation. It’s currently available for Windows and Linux, but they are working diligently on a Mac version. You can try a free version, and of course there is a professional version.
Motion Studio This is a funky Windows-only program designed to only create.exe file types. It could be useful for slideshow presentations or display in a loop, but the animation aspect is quite limited.
Pro Motion Pro Motion is an animation program for Windows only designed for handling close-up pixel. This makes it the perfect software to build sprite-based characters similar to those in video games.
3D Animation Programs
For the most part 3D is considered to be software for professionals, although the following applications are seeing use at home and open-source movies.
3D Studio Max 3D Studio Max wins as being the most expensive software animation program from the list. Many of you will recognize that 3D Studio Max and Maya which we will look at next are Autodesk owned. Although it is a popular tool for industrial designers and architects, it has found a cult following amongst the film and video games industry.
Maya 3D is increasingly becoming the tool of choice for the film industry, because it allows for a wide range of shades and light effects. Maya is also very customizable, allowing easy integration with third-party software. This has made it an easy choice for animation studios. You can download Personal Learning Edition for free, which is recommended if you are considering this software.
Lightwave LightWave 3D is a highly professional program, which is used to create TV and movies special effects. Lightwave is not something you should tackle lightly. However, you can get a 30-day trial version of this animation software and it is recommended.
Blender Blender has recently become popular because of its use in creating the comic strip Big Buck Bunny. This fun and professional animation should be the only reason needed to experiment with this open-source animation software.
Anim8or Truly a custom work of love, this animation software is the creation of Steve Glanville, a software engineer at NVIDIA. Anim8or, apart from being difficult to spell, is a program for Windows only. This is not a professional animation level software, and was never intended. Regardless, this is a good introduction to animation software, especially if you are interested in learning how to do 3d animation.
Swift 3D Originally meant as a 3d alternative for Flash users. This software program allows you to animate directly through the software, and export to the flash-friendly.Swf format.
Photograph Animation Programs
Almost forgotten about and nearly ending up in the miscellaneous category, the following programs make use of still photos and use them to create animated films.
The only Macintosh application solely on this list. iStopMotion is a very fun program specifically designed for stop-motion animation. It can work with a camera built into your Mac, or you can easily import photos to build your animations.