Animation can leverage your brand’s marketing campaigns through impressive motion techniques and compelling storytelling. It’s in our nature to stay riveted in our seats whenever a good story unfolds in front of us. That’s why brands consider 2D animation in video tutorials or branding materials. If you’re going this route, check out the seven best free 2D animation software you can use.
First and foremost, animation is a facet of graphic design that leans more towards motion. The more movement in your picture, the easier it is to depict a story. That goes without saying, animation tells your brand story in amusing, entertaining, and unique ways, which makes 2D animation perfect for company or personal portfolio websites.
In layman’s terms, animation consists of using a series of pictures. It entails creating one single movement from successive images or drawings. These images provide an illusion, showing a swift action when presented in fast succession. And it has everything to do with how the human brain processes images.
Our eyes can only grasp images for one-tenth of a second. So when the brain sees a series of images presented in a fast sequence, it processes the images into one single movement.
Early animators used traditional animation, which involves drawing on celluloid sheets, with each sheet containing every single slight movement of the person, animal, or thing. Most traditional animations belong in the 2D animation category, using the best free 2D animation software. But due to the influx of animation tools, animators have delved into 3D animation.
2D animation falls under the umbrella of traditional animation. Some examples are Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pinocchio, and The Lion King. Vector-based animation is another kind of 2D animation that doesn’t belong to traditional animation. And this is done through the best free 2D animation software, which we’ll tell you about in the next section.
As you know, pixels and vectors are two of the most common image formats. The former can’t be stretched as it compromises the image quality, while the latter can retain image quality even if it’s stretched multiple times. It entails using mathematical values so the images can be resized numerous times. In turn, this makes the motion smooth and high-quality.
3D animation, on the other hand, means animators no longer need to draw a series of images to form one smooth movement. Animators only need animation software to move the character’s body parts around.
When all of the character’s body parts are in position, animators set the digital frames and do it for each frame. The computer then calculates each frame’s motion while the animators adjust the character’s movements and curves throughout the clip or film. That said, 3D animation means the character’s entire body is consistently perceptible.
Learning animation takes time as animators need precise calculations to make every image in a series contribute to one smooth motion. If you’re ready to take on 2D animations, try these seven best free 2D animation software.
OpenToonz is an open-source 2D animation software that anyone can modify freely. The platform was once known as “Toonz” and was used in some Princess Mononoke cuts. Moreover, OpenToonz has also been used for digital compositions, color designs, and paint and ink.
This open-source app was customized and improved in Studio Ghibli. And the best thing about this platform is the production staff and creators who have used it have put in their feedback to enhance the software even more. One of the most notable features of OpenToonz is the scanning tool called GTS.
Try OpenToonz now!
One of the best free 2D animation software is Pencil2D. Like OpenToonz, Pencil2D is another open-source software compatible with macOS, Windows, and operating systems similar to Unix. The platform was created by Pascal Naidon and Patrick Corrieri in 2005 and has since become a hit in the 2D animation sphere. It was called Pencil back then.
When Pencil was released, both creators abandoned the software. However, another animator, Matthew Chang, merged with Pencil and called it Pencil2D. There have been many changes on the software, and regular updates are prioritized, with more features every time. Pencil2D tries to improve the software, so they’re open to feedback from users of some operating systems. They’re also welcoming animation projects to understand how users utilize Pencil2D’s features. Plus, Pencil2D is accommodating to beginners as well, since they provide tutorials and a manual to use the software.
Try Pencil2D now!
Animators choose the top free 2D animation software for their impressive features. And Animaker is one of the go-to tools for animators worldwide. The platform has helped more than 10 million people create awesome animation videos — around 20,000,000 videos in total! There are also over 100,000,000 library assets, such as properties, texts, backgrounds, or music tracks for every project.
When using Animaker, you’ll be bombarded with unique features. However, the free plan only lets you create two customized characters monthly. The free plan also lets you enjoy a maximum of five high-definition downloads. Also, expect to see an Animaker watermark on your free plan projects. If you don’t want the watermark, you can always upgrade to their premium plans.
Try Animaker now!
The genius behind this free 2D animation software is Niels Krogh Mortensen. He has experience in this field for over 30 years, working as a game designer, animation director, animation producer, creative software developer, character animator, and graphic artist.
He first founded Plastic Animation Paper two decades ago. Unfortunately, the 2D animation tool wasn’t very close to what he wanted in animation software. So he did a complete overhaul and improved the platform, which he now calls Animation Paper. To date, Animation Paper is currently the best software for hand-drawn animation that filmmakers, game developers, and pro animators love!
Try Animation Paper now!
Krita is one of the most professional free 2D animation software tools any artist can use. It’s best for texture and matte painters, concept art, custom illustrations, comics, and more. Krita also dates back to 1998, with Matthias Ettrich wanting to show how easy it is to hack a Qt GUI involving an existing application. And Ettrich chose the application GIMP for the demo. However, it was never published.
So he developed his image editor application, which was how Krita came about. Krita provides user-friendly painting and sketching software for digital artists. It offers simple solutions to transform beautiful digital masterpieces from scratch. Krita has also been focused on painting since 2009, inviting more concept artists, illustrators, and cartoonists to use the platform. Plus, Krita is always looking to develop the software, so they created the Krita Foundation in 2012 to provide ample support for its development.
Try Krita now!
Synfig is another free 2D animation software offering two versions for users to try. One is the stable version, which comes with well-tested features suitable for everyday use. The other is the development version, the experimental version of Synfig, and has the latest features and bug fixes.
Synfig carries all the typical 2D animation software functions. However, its best function yet is how it lets you create vector and bitmap animation. Moreover, this platform also has more advanced features that may need a minimal learning curve.
Try Synfig now!
A new contender on the best free 2D animation software tools, Blender was launched on December 03, 2021. It aims to offer a new era of open-source animation tools for 2D and 3D content creation. Its mission is to offer the best 3D CG technology to artists as free open-source software.
It started as the Blender Foundation and soon announced Blender 3.0 this year. The Blender Institute is Blender Foundation’s spin-off project. The institute currently has 24 employees working hard to enhance the Blender platform. Creatives can freely use Blender for commercial or educational purposes.
Try Blender now!
DIYing animations using the best free 2D animation software tools works best if you have the training and experience. If you don’t, we recommend entrusting this difficult process to experts like Penji.
With Penji, you’ll see how easy it is to request, revise, and download design projects. Plus, Penji’s unlimited design offer means you won’t have to hire another creative for your other projects. Penji assigns the best creative suitable for the project. All these features and more are available at half the cost when hiring in-house or freelance animators or designers. Ready to sign up? Click this link for a special 15-percent off your first month.
Updated December 27, 2021
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