Why do you need a free 2D animation software

When we think of animation, we start to see huge dollar signs as it can be a really expensive process. Most animation needs special equipment, software, and extensive specialized knowledge.

With society’s heavy use of media applications and most everyone having some form of smart device that can record videos, it’s nice to be able to add animation to them. However, who has the money to fork out for a software that is going to cost a fortune and requires a person to take a course in using it?

Well, never fear, as there’re free 2D animation software packages that are easy to access and download from the internet. Most of these applications are easy to use and even good for beginners. Some of them may not be the best software for 2D animation but they’re most certainly a lot more simple than the professional full version programs.

5 best software for 2D animation

The review covers some of the top programs that could be useful for simple game applications and adding a cartoon character.


  1. Nima

    There’re not many reviews on Nima but there should be, as it’s a truly amazing 2D animations software. It allows for mesh and bone animation to give your characters a more natural smooth look and flow. It allows a user to create, animate characters easily and use its "raster graphics" feature that is a very powerful tool.

    Interface of the professional 2D animation software Nima

    Advantages

    • The software is mostly web-based and can run off on all major browsers.
    • It has a very powerful animation system for 2D skeletal character creation. To keep the file size small, these images use a single set that is animated with the bones feature. They’re then synced together for smoother playback.
    • The system allows for dynamic manipulation of your characters as it’s running in real-time.
    • The program offers a host of vertex and mesh deformations to make your characters look more realistic, for example, a bird’s feathers fluffing and character’s hair being blown in the breeze.
    • You can make your character do all sort of jumps, falls, etc. with the software Inverse Kinematics feature.

    Disadvantages

    • It’s a bit too advanced for beginners.

  2. Synfig

    Synfig has more to offer to those who have a bit more 2D animation experience. Especially Linux users as it has a very handy audio editing feature that can be used through "JACK" integration. The program is quite intense so maybe it’s not the best program for a novice user to start with. It has more advanced features that allow a person to use vector art or bitmap images for cut out animations.

    Desktop window of the good 2D animation software Synfig

    Advantages

    • Synfig can be used on all three major operating systems – Mac, Linux and Windows, although it seems to have a bit more Linux based features.
    • It has support for almost all of the object library and video file formats.
    • One of the apps top pro’s is its ability to sync various soundtracks with your animations.
    • It’s one of the best packages for 2D animation of videos.

    Disadvantages

    • It’s not user-friendly and not the best software of its kind for beginners.

  3. Opentoonz

    Opentoonz is an animation program that is not only free but also full-featured animation software package. This means that it offers some really powerful 2D animations including those of bones and mesh.

    Menu of the free 2D animation software Opentoonz

    Advantages

    • It’s a completely free powerful 2D full-featured animation application.
    • You can combine both digital and graphics that are drawn by hand.
    • It has some of the most comprehensive features such as animation, color swatches, Xsheet, etc.
    • It can be used on most operating systems.
    • Compatible with most of the popular object library files and video formats.

    Disadvantages

    • The software is a bit hard to learn and confusing.
    • It doesn’t always create frames as it should or tends to slow down upon creating them.
    • It doesn’t have a user-friendly and easy to use interface, that’s why some features can be a bit hard to find.

  4. TupiTube

    TupiTube is a free open source application, packed with useful features and developed by an open community Tupi. It’s also one of the easiest animation programs on the internet and is recommended for children from eight years and up. Its features have all you’ll need as an amateur animator to get you started such as tweening tools, exposure sheet, previews, modules to export most of the major video formats, “Stopmotion” module and a full objects library.

    Features of the open source 2D animation software TupiTube

    Advantages

    • Tupi can be used on all the major operating systems such as Linux, Mac, and Windows.
    • Supports all the most common video formats including MOV, MPEG, and AVI.
    • The objects library includes all the most popular file formats like JPG, SVG, GIF, and PNG.
    • It’s a free open-source based software that makes it an easy solution to get started in 2D animation.

    Disadvantages

    • Experienced 2D animators may find the program limited.

  5. Pencil 2D

    Pencil basis its 2D animation on the more traditional form of hand-drawing cartoon-based techniques. This application is actually one of the best options for beginners who want to learn about 2D animation.

    The program itself is open source based, designed as a vector drawing style program. It can be used on Linux, Mac OS X, and most Windows versions. The software operates on a few different layers allowing you to draw/free-sketch a character in one layer. Then adding color to it in another before adding it to the next to add features such as sound.

    Interface of the Pencil software for 2D animation

    Advantages

    • The application can be used on the Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems.
    • It can be used by a graphic tablet and pen.
    • The quality of the graphics is really great.
    • The application comes in the top as an easy to learn and use 2D animator program.

    Disadvantages

    • Its features are limited when compared to some of the other 2D animation software available for downloading.