15+ Best 2D Animation Software (2020 update)

Best 2D Animation Software Thumbnail

Last Updated on August 19, 2020 by Gunnar

We are all tired of talking-head videos or uninspiring PowerPoint presentations. This is particularly true when it comes to creating compelling online educational content.

I’m sure you’ve had to sit through a course where the instructor monotonously droned on about a topic and you think ‘why am I watching this?’

Don’t make the same mistake! If you want to capture your audience, you need to create exciting and visually engaging content.

This is where 2D Animations come in. 2D Animations are everywhere. Whether you’re looking at a snazzy website, your brand-new Nintendo Switch game or watching the latest animation blockbuster.

With a world of excellent choices, it can be tough to decide on the best 2D animation software solution out there.

That’s why I have tried and reviewed 15 of the most popular ones for you.

Since each 2D animation software has a slightly different focus it is difficult to compare them.

Best 2D Animation Software for Professionals

CrazyTalk Animator 4

CrazyTalk Animator 4 is the much-anticipated new release of the classic 2D animation software. It allows you to easily control and animate characters. No matter what level of animator you are, CrazyTalk Animator still remains one of the best 2D animation software in 2020.

The new release sees features such as 3D motion capture and full-body animation effortlessly integrated into the workflow. You can now effortlessly blend 3D motion capture devices with 2D animation.

The new features give you the ability to easily set up any drawing, character, or creature as a live digital puppet with real-time animation.

You can turn images to animated characters, control characters with your expressions, accomplish 3D parallax scenes, and produce 2D visual effects to rapidly customize characters and create content.

CrazyTalk Animator 4 lets you effortlessly generate lip-sync animation from audio or text.

CrazyTalk Animator 4 is a high-quality program that has been thoughtfully designed. It is targeted at complete novices who don’t need to generate original animations.

It is important to acknowledge that CrazyTalk Animator 4 is a manipulation program and not content creation software. Therefore, you cannot use original sketches for animation.

If you do not want to animate already made content, then you must use a third-party program like Photoshop and import it at a later date or take advantage of the new pipeline features.

It is particularly popular with people who do not need the bells and whistles of a full-blown animation solution. Consequently, it is very popular among educators, marketers, and YouTubers.

KEY FEATURES

  • Generate lip-sync animations
  • Capture facial motions and apply these
  • Create interactive compound animations
  • Enables motion paths and timeline editing
  • Provides 4K monitor support
  • Convert Photoshop layers into 2D characters
  • Content can be transformed into 360 heads

PROS

  • Controls and lip-syncs characters with your expressions

CONS

  • It is not a content creation tool and has no drawing features

PRICING

There are two pricing options for CrazyTalk Animator 4. The Pro Edition, which lets you do most things, costs $99.

The full-blow Pipeline Version, which includes an Adobe Photoshop design pipeline, swf-file loading, and importing 3D motions will set you back $199.

CONCLUSION

CrazyTalk Animator 4 is a fantastic piece of software that will captive you from the start. It lets you turn static images into realistic animated characters.

However, it does not give you the fine-tuning or creation options that you might need as a professional. If you are looking at creating original content, a more complete package will be better for you.

I’d highly recommend trying the FREE 30-day trial, which gives you access to all of the Pipeline features.

Animaker

Animaker gives its users plenty of animated pictures, properties, BGs, tags, outlines, and maps to use. Businesses can apply this software to make impressive videos for promoting, freelance purposes, and productions.

Due to the HTML5, this platform runs on you are guaranteed smooth performance on optimized browsers.

Animated videos are easy to generate with six original program styles. Newcomers will have no trouble running this program as it is straightforward and easy to navigate.

There are around 200 cool sound effects to choose from and over 100 music lists.

The software allows users to choose a template, customize each part of it and have it published in under 10 minutes. In a remote environment, Animaker provides the perfect solution since collaboration is possible between work colleagues.

Animaker was presented to the animation market in 2020 and rose in popularity. There is a unique pricing plan starting from free, personal $19 a month, start-up $35 a month, business $59 a month.

There are also options to pay annually on all of the previous packages.

Cloud users will love the vast library of animations with impressive, studio-quality. Animaker provides animations in any language with no need for advanced techniques in technology.

There are over 15 facial features to customize and 10 accessory slots so you can build the perfect creation.

There is a team of experts handy if you are having trouble running the program. Users should not have problems navigating the program and can develop videos quickly, with superior results.

Animaker is free to test so it might be worth dedicating some time to.

PowToon

This browser animation program is web-based. You can perform tasks such as adjusting the scenery, figures, and props. The platform is tailored towards businesses, so they can add entertainment to mundane meetings.

Users can produce professional-looking videos choosing from hundreds of animations, designs, music files, and landscapes.

Once you sign up for PowToon you will have exclusive access for the 4-day free trial. Therefore, you’ll be able to use most of the premium content that subscription members have access to.

However, there are certain limitations such as being unable to export to MP4, removing the Powtoon watermark, and full HD quality is not an option. After your 4-day trial is complete you’ll have the option of upgrading your account.

You can see clearly how long you have left in your trial as it is displayed at the bottom of your computer screen upon logging on.

PowToon is useful for template creation, which comes in a range of aspect ratios suitable for either YouTube videos or Social media activity. Whilst template use is good, it will only bring you so far.

If you are not planning on using PowToon for long it might be suitable. However, for any long-term use, you need to look at investing in a premium plan or using a different program altogether.

However, it is a very basic program for newcomers and those who don’t have an abundance of technological skills. PowToon is $228 annually for the pro version, $468 annually for the pro plus version, and $1188 annually for the agency version.

FlipBook

If you love drawing then you will enjoy FlipBook as it has been created for people who want to draw. Designing flipbooks is good fun, but it’s even better with the right software.

DigiCel FlipBook provides an intuitive approach to cartoon designing. When you have designed your FlipBook you can share it on the internet. Scan pictures directly from your scanner into the program.

The program is not based on bones animation so it requires you to animate each part yourself. It can convert PDF to flipping books. The toolbar can be customized by yourself. The software allows you to delete or add frames.

Your pencil animations can be shot with one click. You can import overlays, photographs, and backdrops. Add original music records to accompany cartoons. You can determine the number of frames by using the keys.

At a cost of $19.99, it is well worth the investment.

A standard media player that everyone is familiar with is used. Add some drawing and painting accessories, a few camera moves tools for staging and then finish with an easy movie export tool.

Flipbook is easy to use and lets you import art from other sources. You’ll be able to pan, rotate, blur, zoom and dissolve then export completed movies either as QuickTime or AVI files.

Once your movies are exported you can edit them into longer clips using a video editor.

Moho

Moho is one of the cheapest animation programs available. Moho is supported by Windows and OSX. It is one of the most useful 2D animation software for learners because of the unique characters and cost.

This program does incorporate Smart Bones and it clears any distortion at the elbows, joints, or knees of the animation. The device shortens the process that would take a lot slower in a different program. Moho offers excellent bitmap abilities.

Features include freehand sketching. For those who want to learn how to do animation, Moho can help and you can access it via a free trial. Moho can take a while to get the hang of.

The program has expanded and is now possible to use variable soundtracks, pressure, and direction of brush output that will create natural-looking strokes.

Filter and search actions by typing in keywords and sub-words into the new action window. Moho Pro is $399.99 or you can get a free 30-day trial.

Toon Boom Harmony

If you fancy your skill at creating animations for films, television or computer then look no further than Toon Boom Harmony.

It was used in producing well-known television cartoon programs as Rick and Morty, Bob’s Burgers, Futurama, The Simpsons, and more.

This is not a program that a newcomer to animation could just start using. It takes time to become an expert. Toon Boom Harmony users need to understand how the interface works so they can design quality animations with advanced features.

With Toon Boom Harmony you will learn features like Bitmap, drawing vector, painting, classic paper sketches, scanning, and editing tools. To animate puppets, you can use advanced rigging and deformer tools.

You won’t have to export work either to add visual effects. There is also a 3D stage for establishing multi-plane environments.

Toon Boom costs $185 annually for the essentials version, $470 annually for the advanced version, and $905 annually for the premium version.

There are also monthly payment plans for those over the space of the year they work out more expensive.

Adobe Animate

Brought to you by well-established computer program developer Adobe. Adobe manufacturers charge a subscription cost for Animate software.

The software itself features both audio and video embedding, raster graphics, rich text, and ActionScript scripting.

Adobe Animate is easy to use and you need not know much about animation to understand the basics. You can prepare interesting 2D animations, but it might help to check out a few tutorials first.

Animate provides a suitable option for elements like interactive animations. It is also convenient for animating website elements. Users can design animations for HTML5 Canvas, SVG animation, and WebGL using Adobe Animate.

Some components you might like include vector brushes to perform natural brush strokes. Export format to publish animations to any platform. Virtual camera offering realistic views, audio syncing,

Typekit tool to create various web fonts.

There is a modern timeline to edit frames and highlight letters. Adobe Animate single app is £19.97 per month, creative cloud All apps is £49.94 per month, students and teachers is £16.24 per month and business starts at £25.28 per month.

Muvizu:Play+

Muvizu gives users the ability to access dozens of templates so you can create your own system of characters. For those who cannot draw, this is the best program. The cost of Muvizu is affordable for the quality of the software.

There is an extensive library of animated figures and backgrounds so you can create a story without worrying about having any creative strengths. Users can combine elements with characters, match, and edit to create cartoons for movies.

Players of Muvizu:Play+ can purchase the software for less than 50 dollars from the developer website. Before deciding if Muvizu:Play+ is appropriate for you, you can use the free version of the program.

There are limitations with the free version and you don’t have access to as many characters or backgrounds. Before making your purchase, it will provide you with a detailed insight into how the program functions.

There are no drawing tools in the program, so there are no brushes or tools that will help trace images into vectors. The impressive thing with this is that it doesn’t need a drawing tablet.

Another thing that Muvizu:Play+ does not include is bone rigging, but it presents a complete library full of pre-made movements that can be applied to all the characters throughout the timeline.

You can select and edit individual figures or elements in the layers section. However, for software that only provides bone rigging and drawing tools, it might be best to use software such as Nima.

Choose your character then perform tasks like editing certain characteristics to create the look you prefer.

You can do jobs like changing skin color, hairstyle, clothes, and other accessories using the color palette. There is a complete section of backgrounds that covers scenes like prisons, woods, and more.

When you create your character, add animation paths so they will move from one point to another with the click of a button. Doing this helps you save time instead of having to move characters into place frame after frame.

The user can also alter the lighting to add special effects. Muvizu:Play+ costs $69.99 for the complete version.

Stopmotion Studio

This software is different than the majority of other 2D programs in the animation market. It concentrates on putting physical objects into animation, rather than hand-drawn characters.

You don’t get drawing tools, bone rigging, premade effects, or designs which is unfortunate. It takes a lot of effort to make films using the specific animation style so if you want to create video clips then you will have to be patient.

The software costs around &60 from Honestech. It’s cheaper to buy the software from the manufacturer’s website rather than from Amazon. Unlike other animation programs, there is no free trial so you won’t be able to try before you buy.

Stop motion animation has been used in film credits like “Star Wars”, “Robot Chicken” and “Wallace and Grommit” to name a few.

So, you’ll soon be making your own shows and shorts by capturing sequential images with a digital camera or DSLR camera.

The software uses frames on a storyboard to make your cartoon. You can create the illusion of movement by making your object move slightly in each frame. Once played back it gives the illusion of movement.

The pictures can be rearranged at any time by dragging and dropping them so they appear to be in sequence. The software has hotkeys that can be used to merge, delete, cut or copy and paste images with a number of keystrokes.

It is also possible to add an introduction or ending credits, onscreen text or subtitles to any video. The cost of Stop Motion Studio on iPhone, iPad, and iPod is $4.99, on Android and Chromebooks $4.99, on Mac and Windows for $9.99.

Celaction 2D

Celaction 2D is a fantastic piece of software for complex projects and allows users to make professional and impressive animations. It is compatible with Linux, Windows, and OSX.

The program operates smoothly and quickly with low system specifications. The product suits amateur to professional users as it has both basic and advanced features.

Create a palette using 16 million colors. Although it’s not the simplest program to use, it is very quick. There are shortcut keys and Multiplane camera features.

There are multiple processors that this software uses which shows the animation on high quality whilst you continue to work. The program has been built to cope with many complex projects using vectors and bitmaps even simultaneously.

You will also be able to use the customizable directory management as well as an AutoSav option. The software costs $1300.

Best 2D animation software solutions for free

Synfig

Synfig is free to download and makes excellent animation videos. You need to have a graphics card of 1gb or over and a good ram to run this software.

You can produce whiteboard and 2D animations with the quality of something you would see on television. What is satisfying about this program is that you can create a skeleton system like you can with professional programs.

There are plugin abilities and the automatic lip-sync is immense fun. It is superb for users who require small, short, or minimalistic animations. It has freehand tools and shapes, but you can revise the size, form, and scale of animations.

Synfig does not require you to complete the task of tweening, forming smooth animations without having to draw each frame separately. It is a fantastic program for learning vectors and tween animations.

However, frame by frame drawing will refine your skills and it doesn’t provide this. However, if you use Tupi and Synfig together you will have the best of both worlds since Tupi allows for the frame to frame drawing.

Synfig was devised by Robert Quattlebaum with extra characters added by Adrian Bentley. Synfig provides two versions for its users. You can choose from a developer or a stable version.

The stable version is better served for newcomers, whereas the developer version is more suitable for advanced users as there are newly added components.

There are different tutorials online.

Any design that has a vector component can be turned into another. The different layer parameters can be linked with numerical aspects to generate 2D software.

Synfig is especially useful for Linux users who can run a video editing tool through “JACK” integration.

Pencil 2D

Pencil2D is a free to use open-source animation program that uses traditional techniques to create simple animations. It is easy to use and a complete novice could learn how to use it in a few hours.

There is a manual included in the package that instructs you how to use the software. Unlike other software packages, it does not require a lot of RAM. With the minimalistic design, you can concentrate on drawing animations rather than on what comes next.

Switch between raster and vector so that you are able to ink and paint whilst on the go. With pencil 2D being a cross-platform software, it runs on Windows, macOS, Linux, and FreeBSD.

It supports tagged image file format and you can import pictures on individual frames as original layers.

Add text, key-frames, production pipeline, vector drawings, animate characters, use layers and filters, and sound synchronization to design original cartoon sketches.

This wonderful program is brought to you completely free of charge, even commercially!

Nima

Nima allows users to execute mesh and bone animations so cartoons will have a smooth style and flow. Users can design and animate cartoons and apply the “raster graphics” feature that is an impressive tool.

This is a web-based software allowing it to run on all significant browsers. It has an impressive animation system creating 2D pictures free of charge. If the system is running in real-time, it allows for the dynamic manipulation of the characters.

Make your figures look more authentic by applying vertex and mesh deformations. For example, you can do things like making a bird’s feathers fluff or allowing your character’s hair to blow in the wind.

The Inverse Kinematics feature allows your character to do jumping and falling. The only disadvantage I see is that novices may struggle to learn Nima as it is quite advanced.

OpenToonz

This animation program is free to run and is fully-featured. It is the free version of Toons that fans may have seen used in notable projects like Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke.

OpenToonz is excellent to operate like the paid version.

To animate a sketch, just scan it into the system. It allows you to apply 4 types of scanning and you can save scan settings for the future. You can amend picture styles by using artificial intelligence. There are clever 2D animations, including bones and mesh.

Users can merge hand-drawn digitals and graphics. Purchasers can enjoy using comprehensive features like animation, color swatches and Xsheet included in the software.

This program will run on most major operating systems, is compatible with TWAIN standards, popular library files, and video formats. Newbies to the animation field may find this program challenging and confusing.

One annoying feature is that it slows down when making frames. The interface is not user friendly or easy to apply, and this makes some items hard to find.

Maefloresta – TupiTube

This can be used with operating systems Unix-like, Windows, and macOS. This Colombian startups main product is TupiTube. It was created by two young Colombians to encourage younger people to make animations in Latin America.

TupiTube is completely free and an open-source program that is compatible with tablets, PCs, and phones. Features include basic tools for vector illustrations, help with tweening of positions and colors.

Blogging Academic - Gunnar Mallon
Gunnar Mallon

Dr. Gunnar Mallon is a full-time Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen and passionate blogger. Join Gunnar and over 10,000 monthly readers on BloggingAcademic.com to learn how to start a blog like an academic. Gunnar also publishes academic journal articles on the topics of statistics, education, and climate science.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The blogging academic - online education
About Gunnar Mallon

I put over a decade’s worth of experience, writing modules for some of the world’s top research universities into writing to 10,000 readers worldwide about creating engaging online educational content.

Join the List

Join 230 others on the Blogging Academic mailing list to get access to exclusive content and offers.

Zero spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Other articles you might like
shares

Let’s do this! Your FREE Guide to

MAKING MONEY BLOGGING IN 2020

  • FREE 10,000-word eBook
  • FREE online course launch checklist
  • FREE plan to make $10k in 90 days