5 Best 2D Animation Software of 2021 (Free and Paid)

| | September 14, 2021

Animation industry is growing at a rapid pace as consumers around the world nowadays are engaging in high-definition visual experiences. They are are consuming more immersive content across channels such as ultra-high-definition TVs, tablets, and smartphones to head-mounted devices.

Animation and VFX Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 9% during the forecast period 2021 to 2026.

Online 2D animation software as well as downloadable one can help animators create advanced animations like 2D vectoring, stop-motion animation and motion graphics, and more.

Some well-known popular 2D animations include:

  • Looney Tunes (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd)
  • Classic Disney (Snow White, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid)
  • TV shows (The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, Rick and Morty)

Creating 2D animations is a great way to improve your branding efforts. It can also be a great way to share information with your audience and explain all kinds of things.

This also allows you to establish unique, cool stories that you can share in a video format. The best part is that 2D animations can be used to create engaging content for kids, adults and just about anyone.

Being an expert in 2D animation can open a wide range of exciting and profitable career for you - video editing, video course creator, YouTuber and of course, animator.

In this article, I have highlighted and compared some of the best 2D animation software in terms of features, pros & cons and price. It will help you choose the best software for your need.

Let's get started.

How to Choose the Best 2D Animation Software?

Below are some important tips that can help you to narrow down the right 2D animation software to suit your needs. You must first identify the kind of video you will be creating. Below I have highlighted some example video that you can create with a 2D animation software.

  • Promotion video
  • Music video
  • Business video
  • Contest animation
  • TV series
  • Explainer video
  • Animated cartoon video
  • Tutorials
  • Children's animation

Here you have a list of things that you should consider when you want to choose the right 2D animation software to create the right kind of animation for your professional needs.

1

Check and see the filetypes that you can use for animations. Ideally, the more you have, the better the results you can get. It’s always great to have support for multiple types of files, just to be safe.

2

What audio files are supported? This is also important, if you are looking to create a more complex project that involves different audio files.

3

Is it compatible with your current hardware? This is something you need to check, because some of these tools might not work with your current hardware at all. The more you know, the better the results you can get in the end.

4

Is the 2D animation software free or paid? Some of these apps are available free of charge, others will be paid for. Check and see the value you receive and whether it’s well worth the effort or not.

5

Are you getting the ability to customize, add effects and obtain all kinds of extra features? That can help you quite a lot.

6

Can you adjust the timeline? Is it versatile? That can make a huge difference and something to take into account as much as possible.

7

What type of animations will you use? Some 2D animation software also includes 3D capabilities, so keep that in mind.

8

Is the 2D animation software created for advanced users or for someone that’s just getting started.

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Best 2D Animation Software of 2021

Here is the list of the best 2D Animation Software of 2021.

Animaker 2D Animation Software

overview

Animaker is a great 2D animation solution designed to create simple, yet efficient 2D animations. It’s used by many professional companies all over the world, it’s efficient and it gets the job done with great success.

You can easily create eye-popping animation videos or live-action videos with just a few clicks. It has easy to use drag-and-drop builder interface where you can edit and add different elements to your videos, upload and customize your videos in 4K quality.

key features

It has a powerful HTML5 engine designed to deliver great performance in browsers.

You receive access to one of the largest video asset libraries in the world - 100 million+ stock videos and photos, 100000+ graphic elements.

You can choose from 1000 plus ready-made templates to make the workflow faster and more convenient than ever before.

There’s a dedicated character builder, you can have extensive facial expressions and they even have automatic lip syncing. It allows you to create almost billions of unique characters.

The software itself is created for complex and simple animations alike. Use 100+ scene background, 200+ music tracks & sound effects, custom fonts & ready-made templates to create engaging videos for your audience.

Its drag and drop interface allows you to customize each aspects of your videos. You can upload and edit videos at 4K video quality.

pros and cons

Pros

  • Very easy to use interface with lots of customization options - fonts, images, videos, and others
  • It’s possible to change backgrounds, expressions and other features fast
  • Pre-built assets, templates, 100000 plus graphic elements
  • Character builder allows to combine billions of elements to make a completely unique character
  • 200 plus music track and sound effects
  • 100 plus scene background
  • No credit card is required to join the free plan

Cons

  • The interface could be improved
  • The app does take time to get used to

PRICING & PLANS

Animaker costs $10 per month for the basic features, but it can cost up to $49 per month if you want more premium downloads per month, create up to 30 custom characters and 2k quality videos.

FREE TRIALS / plans

It also has a free plan where you can try Animaker to see whether it is the right 2D animation software for you or not. Under the free plan, you get 5 watermarked videos and 10 GIFs downloads in HD quality per month along with other limited features.

No credit card is required to join the free plan. Join Animaker today and create your dream videos today.

Adobe Animate 2D Animation Software

overview

Adobe Animate was known as Flash previously, and it conveys some great pro level animation and drawing tools. It can be bought as a part of Adobe Creative Cloud. Creative Cloud membership allows you to get latest features as soon as a new update of Animate is released.

The 2D software allows you to design anything from interactive animations for games, animated cartoons, TV shows, ads and the web. The tools can easily animate cartoons and even banner ads to drive more engagement from your viewers.

It also has bones and animation paths. Thanks to the dedicated virtual camera, you can easily imitate a variety of things like rotating, zooms, pans and other types of movement.

Once you're ready with your 2D content, you can quickly publish it to multiple platforms in just about any format - HTML5 Canvas, WebGL, Flash/Adobe AIR and SVG.

Let's look out at some of its outstanding features.

key features

Create interactive web and mobile content for games and ads using powerful illustrations and animation tools. You can import vector drawings to further increase the scale of your animations.

The app allows you to declare symbols from any of the parts that you need animated. You can also create the animation via selecting the symbol position on keyframes.

Animate actually brings in the ability to save and export your animation as a clip on the web. This makes it easier to share and use the way you want.

It’s possible to perform sound syncing to ensure that your music or sound is working adequately with the current animations.

Create interactive web banners that is responsive to user interactions such as mouse movement, touch and clicks.

pros and cons

Pros

  • The app has a great interface and lots of great features
  • It is fully integrated with other Adobe software
  • Offers pre-made assets (a variety of characters, background, audio rigs and motion assets) to help you create 2D animation faster.
  • Detailed tutorial that takes you through the basics of animation step by step
  • They offer support to save clips in MP4 and AVI formats, even 4K

Cons

  • You don’t have audio editing tools
  • It’s not possible to upload to Facebook or YouTube
  • It can be overwhelming for newcomers

PRICING & PLANS

Like most Adobe software, it will cost you $20.99 per month. If you want to use it for your business and you want a single app like this, it costs $33.99. Or you can use the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite for $79.99 per month.

FREE TRIALS

Adobe also offers a 7-day free trial of Adobe Animate. Under the free trial, you're free to access and use all the premium features of Animate. This will help you decide whether Adobe Animate is the right 2d animation software for you or not. Get the free trial by visiting the link given below.

Cartoon Animator 2D Animation Software

overview

Cartoon Animator 4 was formerly known as the CrazyTalk Animator. It’s a great 2D animation program for game designers, video creators and artists. It delivers lots of pre-made characters, animated movements and effects. While it’s geared towards professionals, it does include plenty of non pro features and some tutorials to get you started.

The 2D animation software allows anyone to turn images to animated characters, control characters with expressions, generate lip-sync animation from audio, accomplish 3D parallax scenes, produce 2D visual effects and more.

key features

Cartoon Animator is one of the few tools that offer you motion capture support.

You can start with bone based animations and add to that the way you want, without any restrictions.

The app automatically applies lip syncing to recorded or imported voice tracks, thus delivering an extraordinary value and experience.

You have direct access to lots of templates and character effects you can use the way you want at any given time.

There’s a dedicated 360 degree head creation. This provides immaculate, very high quality animations even if they are in 2D, which is extremely important to focus on.

pros and cons

Pros

  • Stellar VFX features
  • Great motion capture
  • You can create your own 2D characters from images
  • Add 3D motion to your 2D characters
  • Powerful character creation

Cons

  • You can’t upload the content automatically on YouTube or Facebook
  • It can be extremely expensive
  • Takes a while to get used to the interface

PRICING & PLANS

Cartoon Animator will cost you anywhere from $129 to $199, depending on sales and when you acquire it. There’s also a Pro level that costs you $100. Keep in mind that each new version is something you need to purchase separately, only incremental updates (like 4.1, 4.5) are free.

FREE TRIALS

It offers a 30-day free trial with full animation features. It is available for download on both Windows and Mac operating system.

The trial version include features such as Motion Live 2D, Facial Mocap, CTA4 Pipeline full functions and 816MB worth or free resources - 50 characters, 24 projects/scene, 435 motions, 222 accessories and more.

Stop Motion Studio 2D Software

overview

Stop Motion Studio is a great 2D animation tool and it’s available for the iOS devices and Mac OS as well. There is a Windows Store version too. It offers complete support for a variety of cameras that come from major camera makers like Sony, Nikon and Canon. It’s not as complex as the other tools, but it adds the versatility of creating 2D animations on mobile.

key features

You have access to a frame by frame views to view images in order.

There are dozens of music and sound effects that you can use to improve your animations.

You can use a multitude of painting tools to paint like it would be a canvas.

It’s possible to change the credit and title screens.

You can add all kinds of effects to your animations.

Looping and playback capabilities are possible, depending on the tools you use.

pros and cons

Pros

  • A simplistic and very easy-to-use interface
  • Plenty of tutorials, which make it a pleasure to use
  • Animation guides to position animated objects more easily
  • You can view frames via a transparent overlay
  • Copy, paste, cut, and insert frames at any position
  • Enhance your movie with different foregrounds, filter effects, aspect ratios, and fade effects
  • Easily export movie to your device in 4K or 1080p

Cons

  • No templates for the free version
  • You are limited to the style of stop motion you want used

PRICING & PLANS

Depending on the version you buy, it costs anywhere from $4.99 for mobile devices to $9.99 for the desktop versions.

FREE TRIALS

Free trial allows you to download the application from Google Playstore and Apple Store and use it for free.

5. Moho

Moho 2D Animation Software

overview

Moho is widely regarded as one of the top 2D animation software on the market. It receives lots of updates and it can offer a plethora of animation tools you can access and use on the spot. You can easily create simple or very complex animations in no time.

key features

You can use multiple animation layers to create very complex animations, regardless of the style and structure.

Moho has comprehensive, very realistic motion blur that you can take to the next level with creative, unique styling tools.

It’s extremely complex, which makes it ideal for a vast range of other different tasks regardless of the situation.

Smart warping allows you to create custom meshes, that allows to twist and bend animations the way you want very quickly.

Their freehand drawing tools offer tons of control and flexibility, while allowing you to work in a simple, yet efficient manner.

pros and cons

Pros

  • Warping system designed to help you work with custom meshes
  • Very good motion blur solutions
  • Freehand drawing tools
  • It works on drawing tablets
  • The smart bones system offers great movement

Cons

  • It’s very expensive
  • Very complex and quite hard to learn
  • Not everyone will use all the features in this package
  • Switching between layers can become a nuisance at times

PRICING & PLANS

Moho Pro can cost you $399 for a one time purchase. There’s a Debut version for simpler animations or cartoons at $49.99.

FREE TRIALS

Adobe offers 7-days free trial of Photoshop.

Synfig Studio 2D Animation Software

overview

Synfig Studio is a free to use, cross platform software for creating animations. It’s a tool designed for creatives, by creatives, and it comes in 2 variants. One of them is the stable version, and the second one has a variety of features that are new and in fine tuning before you get them in the final version. You can switch between the two versions if you want to experiment with the added features.

key features

Synfig Studio has its own integrated soundtrack, which means you are able to add all kinds of different songs into your projects.

You can record and manipulate objects to create your own animations.

Synfig Studio has its fair share of drawing tools, and you can also import artwork from other places and use it within the app if you want.

There are all kinds of layers like gradients, fractals, geometric solutions and others.

You have a bone system that helps you create cut out animations the way you want.

pros and cons

Pros

  • It’s free to use, you don’t pay for anything
  • Dedicated plugin capability designed to enhance your projects
  • It’s coming with great manipulation tools
  • You can use multiple layers if you want, based on your needs and requirements
  • It has a developmental branch

Cons

  • It’s not as feature-heavy as other tools
  • The developmental branch is known to crash at times
  • Not a lot of guidelines and tutorials
  • The vector tweening can be improved

PRICING & PLANS

Synfig Studio is available free of charge. Whether you use the developmental or stable branch, you can download both for free. You can also get involved in the development process by sharing feedback and also suggesting features.

FREE TRIALS

Adobe offers 7-days free trial of Photoshop.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, all these 2D animation software solutions are incredible and a pleasure to use. Each one comes with its fair share of unique features, and you will find them very reliable and a pleasure to use.

If you always wanted to create great 2D animations, these are the tools you want to use. Not only are they versatile and reliable, but you can fully customize the experience as you see fit.

While the degree of complexity varies quite a lot, it all comes down to the features you need. Study their feature set, pros and cons, then you can access the results you want.

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Best 2D Animation Software

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