best-animation-software

Animation Software: Which One Should You Use?

One of the most common question I get from people (both friends and readers) is “What software do you use?” Is it Maya? After Effects? Flash? In this article I will break down the options you have when choosing your animation software.

Before I start I want to clarify that this is only my opinion based on my experience. It’s important to remember that good skills will get you far no matter what software you use. Tools are just tools.

I did not include every animation software out there, just the ones I thought were good enough to mention.

for more about learning how to animate, check out our animation courses.

3D Animation Software

Autodesk Maya Autodesk Maya

Maya is the industry standard 3D software, used in most large studios. Maya, Softimage and 3D Max all belong to Autodesk and word quite similarly. Choosing one is a matter of personal preference.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux

Learn more…


maya_animation_01

Check out our course Maya Animation to learn how to animate with Maya.



Autodek SoftimageAutodesk Softimage

From Autodesk: Softimage character animation software offers high-performance creative tools for artists and technical directors working in 3D game development and visual effects.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
  • Linux

Learn more…

Autodesk 3DS MaxAutodesk 3DS Max

From Autodesk: 3DS Max provides a comprehensive 3D modeling, animation, rendering, and compositing solution for games, film, and motion graphics artists. 3DS Max 2014 has new tools for crowd generation, particle animation, and perspective matching, as well as support for Microsoft® DirectX 11® shaders.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
  • Mac OS X

Learn more…

Cinema 4DCinema 4D

Cinema 4D is a motion graphics artist’s best friend. This is a 3D program for the After Effects user. Very intuitive, and after a the recent release of Cineware it works directly with After Effects without the need to render first. This would not however be my first choice for serious 3D production since it is designed from the ground up with motion graphics in mind.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows Vista, 7, 8
  • Mac OS X

Learn more…

BlenderBlender

Blender is an open source and free 3D software.

From Blender: Blender provides a broad spectrum of modeling, texturing, lighting, animation and video post-processing functionality in one package. Through its open architecture, Blender provides cross-platform interoperability, extensibility, an incredibly small footprint, and a tightly integrated workflow.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux
  • FreeBSD

Learn more…


Check out our course Blender Animation to learn how to animate with Blender.



Animation For Beginners

2D Animation Software

Adobe Flash Adobe Flash

Probably the most popular 2D animation software out there. Flash has a long lineage of animation making, even before it was purchased by Adobe. Flash is vector based, which I don’t personally like, but it’s very intuitive to work with (as most Adobe’s products are) and relatively cheap.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows XP, 7, 8
  • Mac OS X

Learn more…


Check out our course Flash Animation to learn how to animate with Flash.



Adobe After Effects Adobe After Effects

An interesting choice for 2D animation. After effects gives you a great control when creating rigs for 2D, and using the puppet tool is very convenient and intuitive. I find After Effects to be a great choice since I’m very comfortable with the Adobe environment, but that’s my personal preference. Since it’s an editing software it’s great to be able to edit and color correct in the same place you animate.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows XP, 7, 8
  • Mac OS X

Learn more…


Check out our course After Effects Animation to learn how to animate with After Effects.



photoshop-logo Photoshop

Photoshop is often skipped when considering an animation software, but in reality its powerful drawing capabilities makes it one of the best choices for frame by frame Disney-style animation. Photoshop’s new timeline functionality lets you animate by drawing frame by frame, using onion skinning and is incredibly robust.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows XP, 7, 8
  • Mac OS X

Learn more…

TVPaintTVPaint

A french animation software, TVPaint is the all-in-one 2D animation software you’ll ever need. It’s definitely more robust and complex than Photoshop, but it’s also much pricier. This software is for professional animators and studios.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux

Learn more…

toonboom-logoToon Boom

Toon Boom offers a user friendly set of animation programs that has advanced rigging systems, effects and camera tools. It is vector based, which means you’ll get that flash-look that I personally am not a fan of.

They offer different packages for different prices. The packages are Toon Boom Studio, Animate, Animate Pro and Harmony. For hobbyists animators I would suggest the Toon Boom Studio package which is not very expensive.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows 7, 8
  • Mac OS X

Learn more…


For the full list (including stop-motion software) check out Animation For Beginners.

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