If you came here looking to find a list of the best 2D animation tools, then you came to the right place.
This is 50 of the best 2D animation tools, script and platform from years of making 2D animation and submissions from the lovely community. Hope you’ll find something here that is useful.
If you’ve got a suggestion for a tool, you can submit it here.
Adobe After Effects is the industry standard to create, composite, and stylize 2D footage layers in 3D space.
Note : Adobe After Effects is included in the Creative Cloud All Apps plan for $52.99.
Adobe Animate (formerly Adobe Flash) is used to design vector graphics and animation. Some animators prefer Animate for frame by frame hand drawn animation (h/t @leoncartoons)
Note : Adobe Animate is included in the Creative Cloud All Apps plan for $52.99.
Asana is a project management tool to organize and plan workflows, projects, and team communication. With features like deadlines, priorities, and visualization, Asana is an effective tool to work through multiple stages of a project more easily. Best of all, it’s free up till the team hit 15 members.
$5 – $29 track
AudioJungle is market to buy the pre-made audio tracks. You can download the track (for free) with a AudioJungle overlay. Pay only when you’ve decided.
Behance is a place to share and discover the work from creative across industries. With its genre-specific filters, you can easily navigate through thousands of artworks by the most influential artists in their fields.
Social signal features like appreciate (likes) and views make it much easier to spot which artwork is in the highlight – which means more visible inspiration for you!
Boil it is an After Effect plugin created by EJ Hassenfratz used for adding ‘boil’ effect into your animation.
BQ_HeadRig is an After Effect plugin used for creating head controllers for characters. This tool allows you to build head rigs with several key features:
A keyboard which, when paired with its Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software, could be a 110 keys macro keyboard. Corsair K55 RGB could be a treat for animators and video editors with a knack for macro key shortcuts. Check out this video for a better explanation about macro keys on Corsair keyboards.
As a user-powered font library, Dafont has an insanely wide range of unique fonts. The Dafont forum is also available if you want to ask questions and suggestions about which font to use for your project.
3D Modeling and Animation Software
Daz Studio is a 3D figure customization, posing and animation tool that allows you to create digital art using virtual people, animals, props, vehicles, accessories and environments.
A good place to try 3D without having to shell out a big sum of money.
Dribbble is the community where designers share, connect, and get hired. Images, gif, and video. Dribbble showcases an active community of creative and design professionals – a goldmine for inspiration seekers.
Duik is more like a tool set. Compared to other rigging tools, Duik has more ready-to-use scripts that can help you design and animate your characters faster. Here’s an example of Duik Bassel in action.
The After Effects plugin to add flavour to the traditional Easy Ease (F9). Create new ways of moving layers with a set of expressions. Have a look at their intro video to learn the secret sauce. (H/T @reygular)
Ergotron Arm is an addition to the drawing display. It give you flexibility to position your tablet or monitor screen. No more hunching over the desk!
Your tablet can also act as a second monitor when you are not animating.
$89 – $179 mo
Filestage is another video review tool. It allow multiple collaborators to comments on specific location on specific frame.
Disclaimer: I’ve used Filestage for 2 years now as I got grandfather into the old pricing. That aside, I also like the white background instead of looking like a hacker all the time.
Fiverr is a platform where freelancers can sell their services to employers from all over the world, starting from $5 per gig. Fiverr attracts to low-budget employers – which makes it a great place for brushing your skills for smaller projects to kickstart your online freelancing career. Fiverr charges a 20% commission fees.
$19 – $49 mo
Frame.io is a video review tool. It allow multiple collaborators to comments on specific location on specific frame. It saves you and your clients from going back and forth, and keep the comments organized.
I use Filestage as I got grandfather into the old rates – but the most important features are the same as Frame.io.
A contract template created by Motion Hatch for made specifically for motion designers and animators.
There is 2 contract inside: freelance terms of service contract for day rate/hourly projects in-house, and a commissioning contract for direct-to-client work.
Freepik is a library of free visual assets in various formats such as .psd (Photoshop), .ai (Illustrator), icons, and stock photos. With more than 1 million free content, you won’t have to worry about running out of asset to choose from.
Free Music Archive offers a huge selection of curated tracks from various genres. You can also download clips without having to register. Everything available on the site is free, but you have the option to ‘tip’ artists via PayPal.
Songs Available : 5,000+
Sign in : No
Searchable : Yes
License : Creative Common
Genovation KB170L is a premium programmable keyboard for those who want simple macro set up without overriding other keys’ functionality. It has 66 dedicated macro keys which you can program individually to speed up your video editing or animation process.
Their tagline says it all: “Much, much more picky than other marketplaces. Much, much cheaper than Hans Zimmer. In fact, it’s free for a link.”
Sign in : Yes
Searchable : Yes
License : Creative Common
Humaaaans, as the name implies, is a design library to mix-&-match illustrations of people. You can customise their positions, clothing, colours, and hairstyle. You can add scenes and use the power of libraries to make it your own. You can also add scenes and make it your own. Created by Pablo Stanley (@pablostanley).
Free icon library
As of writing this, there are more than 230 free icon packs available for download, ranging from animals related icons to gaming icons. The icon packs consist of three styles: colored icons, glyph icons, and outlines.
Vector-based Creative Software
$14.99 – $33.99 mo
Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based creative tool to draw and modify assets for your animations. Illustrator is not the only vector based software out there, but as a part of the Adobe suite, it’s easier to use together with other tools such as Adobe After Effects.
Joysticks ‘n Sliders is a pose-based rigging system for After Effects. It tackles repetitive and pain-staking tasks out of character animations. For characters animation, Joysticks ‘n Sliders can be used to create repetitive motion like a person walking or a bird flapping its wings.
Learn Squared offers courses taught by industry-leading artists. Instructors will not only teach you what they know, but how they learned it. The courses cover a wide range of topics:
In addition to the courses, you can share your progress and give feedback to your fellow students. Follow along on Twitch for live-streamed interviews, software demos and student critiques. Don’t miss out legendary Jorge R motion design course.
Loom is a screen recording app available on Chrome and Desktop. If you are working remotely, this save me so much time and hassle trying to find visual reference and words to explain ideas. The app records and upload your video instant. By far, the smoothest and most magical experience with screen recording.
3D Modeling and Animation Software
Maya is a professional-grade 3D modeling, animation, and rendering software that allows users to write scripts on their own. This feature enhances Maya’s functionality beyond what would be possible with the built-in tools. Needless to say, the learning curve for this tool is quite steep.
Moho Pro, formerly known as Anime Studio, is 2d animation software designed for professionals looking for an alternative when creating quality animations with the additional tool for frame-by-frame animation. The Moho Debut is a low-cost version of the software and for beginner animators.
Their new version comprises a suite of over 20 new tools and hundreds of controls to automate repetitive tasks. Check out the screenshot below. (H/T @reygular)
Note : Motion v2 is only compatible with After Effects CS5 – CC 2018. Older versions of After Effects are not recommended.
$12 – $20 mo
Mural is a visually oriented collaboration and team working platform oriented for creative teams with a plethora of ideas to discuss. Its cloud-based concept makes remote collaboration, brainstorming, and idea synthesizing much easier.
Opentoonz is a free and open-source 2D production software tool developed by Dwango in Japan. Check out the animated shorts.
The software has been part of the process of almost all of works of Studio Ghibli. After “Arrietty/The Secret World of Arrietty”, it was customized inside the company, and evolved to become more usable according to its production style.
Overlord is an After Effects plugin that creates a communication channel between Adobe Illustrator and After Effects. Transfer shapes as you need them, while animating, without the need for file organization, importing, converting to shape layers or redrawing. (H/T @reygular)
Note : Overlord is compatible with After Effects and Illustrator after CC2014.
Beginner-friendly Animation Tool
Pencil 2D is a free and open-source animation design software for beginners. This software can introduce you to the ropes of 2D animation. Its minimalist user interface has all the essential tools for beginners.
Raster Image Editing and Creation Software
$14.99 – $33.99 mo
Adobe photoshop is the “go-to” app to create and edit images in multiple layers. Great for visual manipulation. It’s part of Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plan.
$15 – $99 track
Pond5 is a marketplace to buy the pre-made audio tracks, stock footage, AE templates, and images. You can download preview track (for free). Pay only when you’ve decided.
Website has great UI and easy to find great backing tracks.
$59 – $199 track
PremiumBeat is houses top-class royalty-free music clips. What I like is the purchase of a song comes with loops as well as the full version.
There are a wide selection of both classical and modern audio tracks. Their licensing is also very generous: purchase the license once and you can use it for an unlimited number of projects.
Songs Available : 10,000
Sign in : Yes.
Searchable : Yes, with filters.
License : Royalty free
Intuitive drawing app
$9.99 – $14.98
Procreate® (@procreate) is an intuitive digital illustration app available for the iPad and the iPhone, developed by Savage Interactive. The iPad combined with Procreate is one of the most beautiful digital drawing experiences. They have also added Procreate Pocket for the iPhone. (h/t @oliversinyeah)
What makes Rubber Hose 2 different from other animation rigging tools is its “rubbery” feature. It basically allows you to assign pins which can be used as an animation axes. Adjust the hose characteristics to fit the character, scene or action –all in the middle of animating. The freedom to change a bend’s direction or roundness or the hose length is all yours.
$0 – $997
School of Motion provides design and animation courses to walk you through various styles of visual design. The courses will cost you $0-$997 depending on the mastery level and extensiveness of the course.
They have a great Youtube channel, podcast and blog – one of the best in the industry.
Sort It is an After Effect plugin created by EJ Hassenfratz that brings the Layer Manager UI from Cinema 4D into After Effects .
$1.99 – $9.99
Stop Motion Studio is a software app designed for stop-motion animation. It allows your phone to capture, compose and edit a stop-motion video.
It is available on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. Projects can be started on platform and finished on another.
2D and 3D Combination; Built-in cut out tools
Toon Boom Harmony has a bitmap and vector tools for creating art, 3D imported models for hybrid production and an option to create multiplane scenes with Z-depth.
Notable Features: Multi-platform; In-App Tutorials
$600 – $1,500
TVPaint Animation is a 2D paint and digital animation software developed in France. It is mainly for frame by frame animation. Many traditional paper animators sing praises for TVPaint’s brushes over Adobe Animate.
Note: The activation key is a physical flash drive.
Upwork is a melting pot for twelve million digital freelancers and five million employers as of writing this guide. The jobs are spread out across 12 fields and hundreds of sub-fields. Upwork charges 5% – 20% of commission fees so make sure to factor that into your budget.
Vimeo is a video hosting platform. The clean layout and ad-free design is well-loved in the video community.
In 2017, they launched a video review tool. So far, their feature hasn’t been able to match other video review tool like Frame.io or Filestage.
Vector-based cloud freeware
Vectr is a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator. You can create 2D vector graphics available both as a web app (preferably Chrome). It has the core features you’d hope and is versatile enough for day-to-day design tasks.
The Intuos S is perfect for learning artists. It is cheap, portable and reliable. The Bamboo used to be the only option but has since been replaced by Intous.
If you’re unsure for what to get for your first tablet, the Intous is your safest bet!