Best Animation Software for Amateurs
Filed under: Animation & Effects
June 14, 2017
Have you ever wanted to learn animation, but were intimidated by the process of creating hundreds of hand-drawn cells to complete one simple, animated movement? These days, the animation process has been simplified considerably due to the affordable animation software programs on the market. These programs do much of the animating for you, but given the number of packages available, even this option can be daunting. So what software is the most user-friendly for amateurs?
If you are a beginner, 2D animation is a great way to learn the basics. One of the best software packages for amateurs is Smith Micro’s Anime Studio 2D. It comes in two versions—Anime Studio Debut (for beginners) and Anime Studio Pro. The Debut version offers all the tools you need to learn the basics of animation. It comes with pre-made characters that you can adapt for your stories, or you can draw your own characters using the freehand drawing tools that come with the program, or by using a drawing tablet. You can record dialogue and sound effects and edit audio for your animation, and there is even a lip-synching tool that will match the character’s lip movements to your recorded dialogue. Both the Debut and Pro programs have bone-rigging systems that give your characters realistic movements. One of the main differences between the Debut and the Pro versions is that only Pro offers the onion skinning tool. This tool allows you to see the frames before and after the one you are currently drawing. This helps give you smoother transitions and character movements. Anime Studio 2D Debut 12 can purchased for only about $70, while the Pro version is approximately $400.
Of course, if your aim is to progress from an amateur to a professional animator, you may want to invest in an industry standard 2D animation program such as Toon Boom Harmony. Three versions of Harmony are available—Harmony Essentials, Harmony Advanced, and Harmony Premium. As you progress through each version you gain increasing control over every aspect of your animation project. Harmony gives you loads of tools to work with, but the software is remarkably user-friendly and easy to learn, even for beginners, particularly if you start with Harmony Essentials. You can even purchase official training videos (for an additional cost) to help you master the software. Toon Boom Harmony is used at Disney’s PIXAR Studios and other animation houses, usually in conjunction with Toon Boom Storyboard Pro. Harmony can be purchased through an annual subscription, or a monthly option is available. Essentials can be purchased for $23 a month or $180 annually, Advanced for $58 monthly or $456 annually, and Premium for $109 monthly or $876 annually.
If you are really adventurous, you may want to jump in at the deep end and learn 3D animation. These programs are quite expensive and complex, but Maxon 3D animation software, called Cinema 4D, is the least intimidating and most beginner-friendly. It comes in four versions—Prime, Broadcast, Visualize, and Studio. Of these, Prime is the easiest to learn because it has fewer features, so it is the best choice for amateurs wanting to try their hand at 3D animation. Prime allows you to get up to speed on the basics before graduating to one of the more complex versions. Price varies depending on which version you choose, but can be purchased for somewhere between $400-$3,000.
Any of these animation software programs should have you animating your own stories and projects in no time!