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Best FREE Animation Software — Ready to Download Right Now

Let’s look at the best FREE animation software that you can download and start using today—featuring 10+ software options!REISSUE

Anyone interested in diving into animation may be shocked by how many free software options are available. And, these aren’t cookie-cutter programs—many of these free applications are frequently used by animation-industry pros!

Screenshot of SketchBook's UI
SketchBook’s free animation program is easy to use, even without a tutorial. Image via SketchBook.

Let’s look at the selling points of each free animation program, where to download them, and where to find some beginner tutorials.


Krita

Krita is probably one of the most highly-regarded free animation applications. Ideal for hand-drawn animation, Krita includes over 100 pre-loaded brushes, each with various effects.

Screenshot of animation software Krita
Krita is perfect for hand-drawn animations and has built-in brush stabilizers and a wide variety of effects. Image via Krita.

Krita also has built-in brush stabilizers that can smooth out the effects of shaky hands, making it handy for tablet use. This is just the tip of what Krita has to offer.

Want to learn more? Check out this fantastic starter tutorial from kdsketch!


Pencil2D

Pencil2D is a simple, user-friendly 2D animation app, widely considered a perfect starter program for beginners and ideal for frame-by-frame animations.

Pencil2D is a free, open-source animation program—even for commercial use. It supports both bitmap and vector graphics, and has features like onion-skinning.

Example of Blender's onion skinning application with a hand-drawn cartoon character with a gun
Onion skinning allows you to keep track of each frame in the drawing process. Image via Blender.

FYI, onion-skinning refers to the ability to see previous frames of your animation while you create the next frame. Check out the Pencil2D Tutorials page to get started.


SketchBook

SketchBook was previously a paid animation app from Autodesk, but now it’s completely free! Similar to Pencil2D, SketchBook is a perfect starter program.

It has a beautiful user interface that’s easy to pick up and understand—even without a tutorial. The brushes also feel natural when you’re drawing on the canvas.

Example of a SketchBook drawing of a cartoon woman's profile
SketchBook’s user interface has a beautiful layout and is user-friendly. Image via SketchBook.

SketchBook was the first free animation app I tried out, and I wasn’t disappointed. As a filmmaker, I could see myself using it to create text animations or storyboards.

It also has features like onion-skinning and allows you to rearrange the UI to suit your needs. Check out Wee Bob Art’s SketchBook Tutorial Playlist to learn more.


Blender

Blender recently overhauled their drawing tool—Grease Pencil—which allows you to draw in a 3D environment. It’s perfect for creating traditional 2D animation, cut-out animation, and hand-drawn motion graphics.

Example of Blender's Grease Pencil drawing of a cartoon monkey's head
This tool allows you to draw in a 3D environment and create hand-drawn motion graphics and traditional 2D animation. Image via Blender.

If you’re already familiar with Blender’s 3D toolset, then you should be able to dive right in. If you’re new to Blender, check out this beginner Grease Pencil tutorial by Dedouze.


OpenToonz

OpenToonz is another popular 2D animation application, and it’s widely accepted as a free substitute for apps like Adobe Animate.

It may have more of a learning curve than other beginner apps, but it has many professional features: onion-skinning, bone-rigging, node-based editing options, etc. OpenToonz also supports bitmap and vector images.

Check out this beginner OpenToonz tutorial by NobleFrugal Studio for a closer look.


Synfig Studio

Synfig Studio is an animation app similar in depth to OpenToonz and Adobe Animate. While the user interface looks a bit sterile and comes with a learning curve, it has many advanced features.

One of those advanced features is vector tweening, which allows layers to transform into other shapes automatically. The software also includes layers, filters, and bone-rigging, supportING bitmap and vector images.

Check out the YouTube channel YOW Khemardi, which features over 100 beginner tutorials for Synfig Studio.


Animation Paper

Animation Paper is a sleek and straightforward app for hand-drawn animation. It’s geared towards being efficient and responsive to make you feel like you’re drawing animation the “traditional” way.

You can tell the creator of Animation Paper doesn’t want users to feel bogged down by the tools themselves. The uncluttered design of the app makes it perfect for professionals and first-time animators alike.

Check out the Animation Paper YouTube Channel for an excellent app overview.


Toontastic 3D

If you’re looking for a fun animation app perfect for kids (and adults), check out Toontastic 3D from Google. This app allows you to design characters, record voiceovers, and plot your story beat-for-beat.

You can use prebuilt character models or draw your own and make them 3D. It’s an app that works well for both animating and entertaining.


Inkscape

There are a few other free software apps that may be helpful in your animation journey. Take Inkscape, for example, which is an open-source illustration application.

It allows you to create vector graphics, which can be ideal for animated character designs.

Example of Inkscape animator with image of yellow racecar
Inkscape is a perfect tool when creating character designs for animation. Image via Inkscape.

Need a Free Video Editing App Too?

Want a more advanced video app that lets you edit your animation clips together or add post-effects? Then take a look at DaVinci Resolve, a free video editing program that includes many effects.

Check out A Total Beginner’s Guide to Video Editing Using DaVinci Resolve to get started.


More Free Creative Programs

One of our favorites is MagicaVoxel, a simple and powerful app that allows you to create 3D voxel art. If you enjoy building with Legos, then you’ll love MagicaVoxel.

If you’re looking for even more free apps, check out 5 FREE Programs to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing.


A few more fun freebies for you:

Cover image via Tithi Luadthong.

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