2D Animation Software Review– My choice for the Best 2D Animation Software Out There Today!
As far as 2d animation software goes, there are really only two names in the business that carry much weight, Anime Studio and Toon Boom, but I’ll review all the 2D animation programs I’ve used in the past. If you’re made aware of what’s out there, you can thoroughly review the animation software for yourself.
Paid animation software programs:
AS is the winner, hands down, in my opinion!
- The drawing tools are difficult to learn, but once you learn them, some of their differences are huge time-savers. Click here to see the drawing tools in use as I make a character in Anime Studio.
- It’s intuitive when it comes to pretty much all of the features except the drawing tools.
- The picture icons make the features easy to learn.
- It can produce TV quality animation. I see know noticeable difference between AS’s final product and the highest end 2d animation software, Toon Boom.
- Very fast rendering of final product.
- Adding shadows and shading to characters is as easy as a couple of mouse clicks.
- It’s priced right. I think the Debut version is normally about $50, but you can sometimes find it on sale for $40.
- The Professional version can render in red and blue channel 3d, providing proper depth in a scene.
- The community of users is quite large, so you can usually find people who are willing to help you out in the learning process.
- Plugins are available to add even more features, usually for free.
- The Pro version lets you save and reuse animations you’ve already created for your characters.
- The Pro version can allow you to change hair, skin, or other colors rapidly with styles that you create. This means you can make many characters out of one master character very rapidly.
- The list goes on and on.
There are many versions, so take your pick. I would say that Toon Boom is the industry standard for 2d animation software. A lot of your major TV cartoons and even Disney movies were done in Toon Boom.
- It’s expensive!!!!!! At the time I am writing this, their website has the Toon Boom Animate Pro animation software for $1,999.99. That’s just not practical, IMHO.
- There’s a lot going on, so it’s very muddled and confusing.
- It is most widely used in the professional industry. If you want a job as a professional animator, this is the software to learn.
- It can make professional animation.
- For making an animated series or high end movie, it organizes all your cartoon assets very well for reuse.
- It has a LOT of features. Check out the videos on their website for more info. There are too many to list here.
- The drawing tools are spectacular.
- The positive column seems too small, so I’m adding this bullet point.
- I’m adding this point on, too. I mean, c’mon, this is the industry standard animation program. What can’t it do?
MY ADVICE: Download a free program like Creatoon 3.0 or Synfig and see if you can handle learning animation before you buy a program like Toon Boom. Or, buy a less frustrating program like Anime Studio Debut, and upgrade to Toon Boom if you really feel you need to. For a hobbyist with no intentions of working as a professional animator, stick with AS.
Free animation software programs:
3.0 is the current version of Creatoon, as far as I know. Unfortunately, this free animation software is limited in its capabilities.
- It can’t render its final animation with sound included. It can import sound files, but can’t export them in the final render. That means that you have to sync your characters’ mouths while animating, but you then have to re-sync your audio again in another program (like Windows Movie Maker) once your animation is rendered.
- It has the ability to do vector art, but not well. The whole time I used the program I never figured out how to color in anything I created in vector art form.
- SLOW render time. I mean ssssslllllooooooowwww. You could spend an entire day rendering a five minute animation, only to find out that it didn’t turn out right in the end.
- Limited export formats. Enough said.
- Outlines around imported png files. Every transparent background png file I created and imported, such as arms or legs for my characters, all had a white edge to them and were very unprofessional.
- I don’t believe there’s any current support for this product. It was free and it’s done being developed or improved upon, as far as I know.
- There’s no way to use switch layers to make a mouth sync up with your character’s voice. It’s EXTREMELY frustrating!!!! It requires moving mouths out of sight for each phoneme change.
- It’s FREE.
- Good for training. It’s one of the more simplistic programs, as far as learning translation tools and keyframing. That makes it a good way to figure out if you’re really going to like animation. The translation tool is different from the rest of the animation software programs out there, though. Don’t learn it and expect it to convert. Other software has a much easier tool to use. Keyframes basically stay the same throughout the industry.
MY ADVICE: If you’re new to animation, try out Creatoon and see if you’re willing to commit to learning it. If you know animation is what you want to do, spend the $40 on Anime Studio and save yourself the headache of learning two different programs. See my Anime Studio review at the top of the page. If you know you want to be a professional 2d animator who works for some big company, spend the big bucks and learn Toon Boom; all the big shows are done in Toon Boom, from The Simpsons to SpongeBob to…
If I had to compare Synfig to another program it would be Toon Boom. I feel like the interface is very similar, making Synfig a good free download. I also think the vectors are done in a very familiar, and industry standard, fashion, unlike Anime Studio.
- Synfig’s features may be great for Linux users, but they are very limited for Windows users.
- The rendering limitations are pretty bad. It’s almost useless to try to make a cartoon in Synfig if you’re on a Windows based computer.
- Some computers require additional downloads to partition your computer. If I remember right, this was either for 64 bit or dual core processors, requiring you to limit your computer. My computer repeatedly crashed after following the instructions for setup.
- It’s free.
- You can set up scenes with unlimited depth. This means you could continue to zoom in indefinitely. Anime Studio is limited in this aspect, though one may very seldom need a feature like this. Most animators would use multiple scenes.
- For free animation software, it’s very thorough in what it can do. I believe it can even be used with Papagayo or other lip sync programs.
In summary: If you want quality animation software, you have to pay. You can go professional with Toon Boom if you have $500-2000, or you can spend $40 or so on compatible 2d animation software like Anime Studio. You can even upgrade to the Professional version of Anime Studio for around $200 (I think) and have the ability to do 2d animation in a 3d world. In my opinion, Anime Studio is the best 2D animation software on the market, today!