What’s the best animation software if you’re a beginner?

What about if you’re into 2d, 3d, or stop motion? Or if you're looking to go pro one day?

Many best animation software lists would point you to 100’s of different options.

Here’s the short list of the only programs that matter:

For more about learning animation software fast and how to animate - check out our animation courses or scroll down.

Best Animation Software for 2D


Adobe Animate CC

mid-level 2d software

Formerly known as Flash, this software is a favorite among many You-tubers, Independent Filmmakers, and Beginners.  

With a  $20 /monthly payment plan and a free trial, Animate CC has made getting started with premium software - much easier


Toon Boom Harmony

pro level 2d software

A very flexible program that can go anywhere you want to go in any kind of style - from stick figures to high quality Ghibli / Disney. 

TV shows like the Simpsons, and Rick & Morty use this.

It's a tad more expensive than Animate CC but still has a free trial with a fairly low month cost after. 


TV Paint

the 2D animators ultimate companion

This is the digital hand drawn animators professional software of choice.

If your seeking to create the highest level 2D animation like golden age Disney - TV Paint is the way to go.

But there is also a Free Trial version available to help you decide. 

Best Animation Software for 3D



The destined professionals choice

Maya is the industry standard for most jobs in movies and game studios. If you want to get comfortable with what you'll be using as a professional, start here.

And don't let the cost scare you, there are FREE student versions and a Free Trial (Other 3d programs exist that are similar to Maya, though they aren't worth mentioning for animation).



The hobbyist choice

Blender is a FREE open source 3D program.  Due to this, it's gained a lot of popularity. However, very few, if any, animation studios actually use Blender on the job. 

So it's great for testing out what 3D programs are capable of. But if you want to become a 3D professional animator, you should probably plan to learn Maya eventually. 

Want to learn Maya from a pro in 2 weeks?

Maya For Animators

Check out Maya For Animators to have a pro animator walk you through the software step by step

Best Animation Software for Stop Motion


Dragon Frame

Dragonframe is the #1 software for Stop Motion Animators. Hands down theres no comparison. Feature Films like The Little PrinceLoving Vincent, and Isle of Dogs where created using it, so that pretty much says it all. 

There are special student prices and helpful add on's like Bluetooth controllers. So check out the options. 

Best Animation Software for Free



Free 2D Software

If you're a beginner or you just want to keep animating super casual - you may not want to pay for Adobe Animate or Toon Boom yet. 

Krita is your pick then. And it's a great example of why it's so easy to start learning animation today. It's open source, just click the link and download.


Digicel Flipbook

Free traditional style 2D software

Again - FREE software.  Flipbook is basic and very traditionally focused.

It's probably as close as you can get to traditional 2D animation without actually using paper.



Free 2D Software

Blender pops up here again ​as its the cheapest 3D option - meaning FREE.

​Because of that it may be less intimidating to try 3D animation if you've never done it before.

Pencil and Paper

the real old school free option

If software is your main excuse for not animating - you could always go old school with pencil and paper.

Just grab a traditional flip-book or a few stacks of paper and start drawing.

Best Animation Software for Beginners

All the animation software listed here is great for beginners. 

Whether its perfect for you or not depends on your animation goals.

Are you just looking to see if you like animation, want to animate only as a hobby, or are your planning to go pro and get a job as an animator one day?

And what kind of animation are you looking to do?

Let this guide your choice as you scroll through the options above.

You might also assume that free software is the easiest for a beginner to learn. But usually its the pro software that is most intuitive and easiest to learn because its battle tested inside many animation studios. 

As a beginner you probably also have a lot of questions about how to learn the art of animation, where to find character rigs, and so on.

Our Animation For Beginners epic guide will answer those questions and get you started quick. Check it out.

Want to start animating in Maya in 7 minutes?

Maya For Animators

Check out Maya For Animators to get started fast and learn how to use Maya from a professional animator.

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