Free Computer Animation Programs

Designer focusing on his work on the computer.
Ciaran Griffin/Photodisc/Getty Images

Animation software can help both beginners and experts that are looking to make their own animated movies using voice, animated characters, and more. Whether a student or a professional, there are some tools required in order to create the right creative images and formats. Trying before buying is a good step toward finding the right animation software, and there are plenty of options that are simple but functional.

Below is a list of various animation software packages available for download and reviews of several applications. Some animation programs are entirely free while others are shareware or free with limited functions (with more available after paying). Other programs are free trials that either expire after a period of time or come with certain critical options disabled. See the various 2D and 3D animation software options below to help with creative projects.

2D Animation Software

The traditional animation process includes 2D animation, which can be made by hand or through the computer. This type of animation is when an image is created by another, with a small difference in position, and ongoing, to make the images move in sequence.

  • Adobe AfterEffects
    • ​​Publisher: Adobe
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: Motion graphics and visual effects for film and media.
  • Animator-9 3.6
    • Publisher: Key Technology
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Make animated GIFs from your digital camera.
  • Animator-DV
    • Publisher: AnimatorHD
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: Stop-motion animation on your computer.
  • Anime Studio Pro 5
    • Publisher: MySmithMicro
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: Studio-style animation program. 
  • AniS 1.0
    • Publisher: Tom Whittaker
    • Comments: Simple image manipulation for the web.
    • License: Free
  • Beneton Movie GIF
    • Publisher: Beneton Software
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Basic GIF animation software.
  • Cylekx 2.9
    • Publisher: Cylekx
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Graphics and animation program.
  • DigiCel Flipbook 6 
    • Publisher: DigiCel, Inc.
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: Industry standard studio animation program.
  • Flash Effect Site Builder
    • Publisher: Go2Share.net (Warning: website not safe for work)
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: More of a website builder, but still uses Flash animation.
  • Flash Media Show
    • Publisher: SourceTec Software
    • License: Free (Standard Edition)
    • Comments: Flash slideshow builder and exporter.
  • FotoMorph 
    • Publisher: Digital Photo Software
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Image morphing and animation software.
  • GifSplitter 2 
    • Publisher: XoYo Software
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Simple GIF animation and splitting program.
  • Jumpwel
    • Publisher: Phildes
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Basic object manipulator for use in HTML; uses Java applets.
  • KoolMoves 7.0 
    • Publisher: KoolMoves
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: Alternative Flash animation program.
  • Adobe Flash
    • Publisher: Adobe
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: The leading name in 2D vector animation.
  • Sqirlz Lite 1.1d
    • Publisher: Xiberpix
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Animated image distorter that exports in AVI format.
  • Sqirlz Morph 2.1 
    • Publisher: Xiberpix
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Animated image-morpher and blender. Capable of outputting in Flash format.
  • The TAB Manga
    • Publisher: The TAB
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: Children's animation program.
  • Toon Boom Animate 
    • Publisher: Toon Boom
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: Industry-leading professional studio animation program.
  • Ulead GIF Animator 5 
    • Publisher: Corel
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: Full-featured GIF animation software.
       

3D Animation Software

The process used to create 2D images is different from 3D. The latter offers a more realistic view of animated characters due to dimensions such as height, width, and depth. These types of animations are almost entirely used by computer programs aside from stop-motion animation. Typically, this format is used over 2D to make more lifelike characters and objects.

  • 3D Studio Max 7.0
    • Publisher: Discreet
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: Version 7.0 of the award-winning 3D modeling and animation software package. This also comes with trials of Character Studio and Mental Ray.
  • Cyberdelia
    • Publisher: Askoh.com
    • License: Free
    • Comments: 3D Animation with support for exporting into Macromedia Shockwave.
  • FreeCAD 8.0
    • Publisher: Askoh.com
    • License: Free
    • Comments: A beginner's 3D CAD and simulation program.
  • Gmax
    • Publisher: Discreet
    • License: Free
    • Comments: This is a free 3D program that lets you make your own modifications, customizations, and models for Gmax-ready video games. It is based on 3D Studio Max.
  • Maya 6.5
    • Publisher: Alias WaveFront
    • License: Free Trial
    • Comments: The latest version of an industry leader in 3D modeling and animation.
  • Serif 3D Plus
    • Publisher: Serif
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Allows animated shapes and landscapes.
  • Special Effects 3.2
    • Publisher: Mathematically Beautiful ScreenSavers
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Very limited range of pre-set animations controlled by user preferences.
  • Touch Art Sampler 017
    • Publisher: Derivative
    • License: Free
    • Comments: More of a VJ/synthesizer studio, but still lets you play with animations.
  • TrueSpace 3.2
    • Publisher: Caligari
    • License: Free
    • Comments: Full 3D rendering and output. Seems completely free, though you have to register to get an unlock code on the website. Cross-compatible with many programs.

Source: Justin Slick, The Best Free 3D Software To Download, Lifewire, 2017