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Best 2D Animation Software in 2024

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Best 2D Animation Software

Animation is a great tool to convey specific emotions in a series of photos. This is how 2D animation works. In short, this type of animation tells about your brand or service in an entertaining, amusing, and unique way. 

Most businesses incorporate 2D animation into their marketing campaigns. With compelling storytelling and excellent motion techniques, you will surely reach more markets. 2D animation can be represented through engaging and fun branding materials or video tutorials. 

2D animators usually create a single movement from various successive drawings or images. Back in the day, animators utilized traditional animation, where they drew on celluloid sheets. Today, you can download your preferred 2D animation software to start. If you are about to develop your moving pictures, we've collated eight 2D animation software for your convenience.

Top 2D Animation Software in 2024

Whether you're new to animation or looking for software with premium tools and features, check out the best 2D animation software in 2024 below. 

Toon Boom Harmony

Toon Boom

This 2D animation software is considered an industry standard. Hobbyists and professionals usually use Toon Boom Harmony for their projects. The software has a comprehensive suite of features and tools that range from cut-out animations to the traditional frame-by-frame technique. In addition to 2D animation, you can also integrate your projects with 3D animation. Other features like automatic tweening, vector drawing tools, and seamless software integration make Toon Boom Harmony popular among expert animators. 

Beginners can explore this 2D animation software, but it might require some time to learn and familiarize themselves with the extensive feature set. It also has excellent community support, which can guide new users. However, this software can also be expensive, and you can only try its services after subscribing. It is relatively more expensive than other 2D animation software due to its incredible features. 

Pencil2D

pencil2D

This is a 2D animation software free of charge, which means you can maximize the tools to create your animations at no cost. It is an open-source software allowing users to create moving images through the traditional frame-by-frame process. Pencil2D boasts an uncluttered and clean interface designed to remove distractions and keep the animators focused on their creative processes. 

Pencil2D provides only the essential tools to create professional-looking outputs. This means you won't see unnecessary features on its interface, which is beneficial, especially for users planning to design basic animations. It also has built-in templates that can serve as starting points for visualizing your ideas. 

One apparent downside of this software is that, compared to high-end and premium 2D animation software, you cannot get frequent software updates from Pencil2D. This means some tools might get outdated over time.

OpenToonz

OpenToonz

Another famous open-source 2D animation software, free of any cost, is OpenToonz. It combines 2D animation with traditional drawing. Interestingly, this software was created by Studio Ghibli, a legendary animation house responsible for popular anime films like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. 

OpenToonz relies on a unique workflow called Xsheet to manage your animations. Learning how this process works may take time, especially for beginners. Besides this little drawback, the software has tons of toolset features that are technically available on more professional and expensive 2D animation software. If you have outgrown the free version, try its commercial partner, Toonz Premium. As the name suggests, you can expect many more high-end tools from the premium version. 

Blender

blender

This is a new 2D animation software which was launched in 2021. The animation industry considers Blender to be one of the contenders in the best 2D animation software category. It introduces a new era of open-source animation assets for 2D and 3D content creation. Blender offers extensive features and tools for developing 3D models, animations, and scenes. Its 2D animation mode, called Grease Pencil, lets users create 2D animations with 3D feels. 

Some additional features you can expect from this software include modeling, sculpting, retopology, curves, and many others. Most importantly, you can use almost any device, as Blender is compatible with Linux, Mac, and Windows. 

Synfig Studio

Synfig Studio

This 2D animation software is free. Unlike other software tools, Synfig Studio offers a robust feature set that could rival premium and paid tools. In short, you can create high-quality 2D animations without going broke. 

Its interface is similar to Adobe Animate. Those who are already familiar with Adobe Programs will experience an easy learning process with Synfig Studio. Advanced tools, bone-based animations, and vector animations are some of the features you can see while using the software.

It is a good deal to try Synfig Studio. However, if you are unfamiliar with animations and their tools, you might experience a steeper learning curve. Besides that, the software might also require laptops or computers with solid processing power for it to be responsive and run smoothly. 

Krita

Krita

Digital artists are surely familiar with Krita. This software is helpful to them, especially comic book artists. Like the previously-mentioned 2d animation software, Krita is free and open-source, providing an interesting feature set and user-friendly interface, letting you streamline the workflow. Essentially, Krita is widely known for sketches, illustrations, and digital paintings. However, its capabilities have extended beyond static works. A robust 2D character design tool lets animators develop characters that jump off the page, tell the story, and populate the comic book panels. 

Two distinct features of Krita include about a hundred professional-quality brushes mimicking the vibe of traditional painting tools. Whether you want smooth textures or expressive strokes, Krita will have the perfect brush for each. 

Linearity Move

Linearity Move

You can rely on Linearity Move to create 2D animations in seconds. The speed allows animators to cut significant production costs without compromising the output's quality. It offers an intuitive interface and template designs to make it easier for new users while providing enough depth for professional and advanced animators. 

This software requires users to subscribe to its plans. You can enjoy the Linearity Curve, which is an excellent graphic design partner for Linearity Move. Your subscription is relatively cost-effective since you get two excellent 2D animation software. 

Software

Key Features

Strengths

Weaknesses

Skill level requirement

Toon Boom Harmony

Shading and lighting options available, support vector and raster graphics

Streamlined workflow, big community support, realistic visuals, and collaboration tools are available for premium users

Glitches occur if the software is not updated, and a steeper learning curve

Professionals

Pencil2D

Raster and vector graphics, built-in templates

User-friendly and clean interface, promotes collaboration so other teams can access files remotely

Frame-by-frame animations can take up a lot of time, limited animation tools

Beginners

OpenToonz

GTS scanning tools, real frame-by-frame animation

open-source software, utilizes an exclusive workflow to manage animations

The user interface can be complex and hard to understand for beginners, a powerful high-end processor is necessary to run the software smoothly

Beginners, hobbyists, professionals

Blender

Rigging and animation features for feature and short films, modeling, sculpting, retopology, and curves

Customizable interface, free and open-source software, Blender Cloud lets you sync, store, and share files for collaborative processes

The user interface can be complex and challenging to understand for beginners, a powerful high-end processor is necessary to run the software smoothly

Beginners, professionals

Synfig Studio

Vector and bone-based animations, advanced tools

Powerful and user-friendly platform with a vast range of animation features

Steeper learning curve, limited online and community resources

Beginners, hobbyists, professionals

Krita

More than 100 quality brushes, excellent community section

Responsive and intelligent software, offers vast customization options in making effects and textures

Exporting animations may require plug-ins, Frequent lags occur especially for low-performance processors

Beginners, professionals, comic book artists

Linearity Move

Fast and easy 2D animation creation, extensive learning resources

Beginner-friendly interface, seamless integration, provides easy to follow video tutorials, Linearity Cloud promotes real-time collaboration

Limited export options, some premium tools can only be accessed under paid plans

Beginners, hobbyists

Cartoon Animator 5

Easy character creation, professional animation tools, enhanced motion capture technology for facial expressions and body language

360-degree freedom, intuitive interface, extensive learning resource materials

Advanced features are only available on paid subscriptions 

Beginners, hobbyists, professionals

 

 One must also consider that Linearity Move provides only some similar visual effects to those with film-making tools. Instead, it offers enough advanced tools to develop compelling 2D animation content. 

Cartoon Animator 5

A powerful and accessible 2D animation software is what Cartoon Animator 5 offers. Besides the intuitive interface, users can also maximize the extensive learning resource materials suitable for all animators. Its vast library contains diverse pre-animated movements, pre-made and professional-looking animated characters, and special effects to start the animator's creative process. Furthermore, you can enjoy the enhanced motion capture technology for facial expressions and body language. As a result, it gives the characters extremely realistic movements. 

Cartoon Animator 5 allows you to export animations easily. However, the software does not let you upload them to platforms like YouTube or Facebook. Also, some features are only available on high-tier subscriptions. 

Criteria for Choosing the Best 2D Animation Software

To compare all the 2D animation software above easily, we summarized each provider's key features and distinct characteristics. This allows you to select which one can meet your animation needs easily.

Choosing the best 2D animation for you can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. As you know, there are tons of software options available in the market. However, it is still essential to consider some options for you to make an informed decision. 

 

  • Consider the animation type you plan to create. For complex projects, use custom tools to achieve your animation's distinct look and vibe. 

 

  • Consider your device compatibility, as some software might not be compatible with specific operating systems. In most cases, the abovementioned 2D animation software can work with any operating system. 

 

  • You should also work with a clean and user-friendly interface without compromising the range of tools you can use. 

 

  • Reading feedback and reviews before choosing a 2D animation software is essential. Remember that you will spend some dollars to subscribe to the provider's services. 

 

  • Your chosen animation software must also include helpful community sections and tutorials to help you navigate the interface. 

 

Essential Tips for Using the Best 2D Animation Software

Given that this is your first time using this animation software, it is fitting to utilize tutorials, communities, and online forums. These allow you to familiarize yourself with the software, especially advanced tools quickly. Regardless of your skill in using the existing 2D animation software, there will always be a sense of unfamiliarity with the new software. Besides onsite tutorials and how-tos, YouTube can be a learning resource to master navigating the best 2D animation software. 

Most importantly, you have to enjoy the journey of getting to know the software. It can be a steeper learning curve, but once you master the navigation, you can easily produce 2D animation designs. 

FAQs

Can non-artists use 2D animation software?

Yes. While artistic skills will always help craft 2D animations, some features and tools can assist you, even if you are not a professional artist. Generally, being an artist is not a prerequisite to subscribing to a 2D animation software provider. It all boils down to the person's interest in designing moving images. 

How powerful must my computer be to use 2D animation software?

The requirements depend on the software you choose. Ensure that your PCs and laptops have a good processor, preferably the latest one, and enough RAM. Software providers usually specify hardware requirements. 

What specific features are essential for a 2D animation feature?

Frame-by-frame animation, timeline editing, character rigging, the capability to import and export several file formats, lip-synching tools, timeline layers, animated masking, and keyframing are some of the important features you must look into when choosing a 2D animation feature. You can research for more, especially if you have to create complex animated content. 

Which among the features software must I choose?

As you know, it will depend on several factors, including your preferences. However, you can opt for Pencil2D if you want free 2D animation software. Meanwhile, you can use Blender and Linearity Move if you need premium tools. Remember that the latter requires you to subscribe to the provider's plans. 

Is there a difference between vector and raster graphics?

Linearity Move utilizes vector graphics. They are scalable and can maintain the quality of the animation even when resized. On the other hand, rasters, which are used by animation software like Krita, are generally made of pixels and prone to losing the output's quality when enlarged. Basically, the use of either vector or raster on your animations will affect the quality of your final output. 

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