How Do I Choose the Best 2D Animation Software?

G. Wiesen

When considering the best 2D animation software for your needs, you should keep in mind the various features you might need and the file types you want to work with. Different programs can include a variety of features and functions, so you should keep in mind any particular tools or options you need from such a program. You should also look for software that can import the types of files you work with, and can also be used to create files that meet your needs. Any 2D animation software you choose should also work with your operating system (OS) and be the right price for you.

A flower drawn by an animation artist.
A flower drawn by an animation artist.

2D animation software is a computer program that can be used to create animated videos using two-dimensional (2D) images rather than three-dimensional (3D) models. There are many programs you can use to create 2D animation, so you should look for one that includes any tools and features you want. Some programs include tools to create or edit images once you import them, while others do not have such options. You should also consider features like an effective graphical user interface (GUI), the ability to add audio to your animation, and a timeline to make it easier for you to control and adjust your animation.

2D animation software is a computer program that can be used to create animated videos using two-dimensional images.
2D animation software is a computer program that can be used to create animated videos using two-dimensional images.

There are a number of different file types you can use to create still images for use in animation, so you should look for 2D animation software that can utilize the file types you use. The program you choose should be able to import and open any images you have already created, and software that can incorporate audio should be compatible with audio files you have. There are also different types of video files that can be created with 2D animation software, so you should choose a program that can create output files that meet your needs.

Any 2D animation software you consider should be compatible with any software and hardware you already have. The OS you use, for example, may limit or restrict what programs you can choose, and if you use an art tablet or other input device, then you should be sure to choose software that can function with such hardware. Animation programs are available in a wide range of prices, from expensive professional software to open source freeware. Any 2D animation software you choose should provide you with the tools you need, while also having a price that is appropriate for how you plan to use the program.

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@David09 - I did some stop motion animation once using simple stop motion animation software and a web cam.

I wasn’t animating clay, but Lego blocks. Believe it or not there are entire mini Internet films being shot using Lego blocks alone.

There’s no mouth lip syncing obviously, but you do position the characters one frame at a time. It was a tedious project, a mini space film (yeah, I built a space craft in Lego blocks – a grownup like me!).

It lasted all of 30 seconds and took two hours to finish. Obviously it’s not the most efficient way of making a movie but it is the simplest in my opinion, and you can learn a lot from stop motion animation, like how to make smooth motion in your films and stuff.


@Mammmood - If you want to get into free video animation software you can always try Windows Movie Maker which comes with most versions of Windows (if you don’t have it you can download it from the Microsoft site).

It’s not fancy but it does have the capability to animate frames of a cartoon. You basically import those frames into Movie Maker and then pull them into the timeline, and use the video effects feature to play the clips in motion. As I said, it’s not fancy but it’s free and it will get you started.


@everetra - Yeah, there are a lot of free 2D cartoon animation software programs that you can find on the Internet.

They are certainly cheaper than Director and for someone who is totally new I would recommend that they look into those programs first.

For example, you can find anything from simple programs that make stick figure animations to other free 2D animation software that lets you animate cartoon characters. There are a lot of options, some better than others.

I would begin by asking yourself first if you consider yourself artistically talented. Use that as a guide to determine which package to choose, because some programs are definitely designed for non-artists while others are geared for graphic artist professionals.

Those that are designed for non artists offer a more wizard like approach, but the real artists will find these programs to be lacking in flexibility.


I got involved in 2D animation programs more than ten years ago, with my purchase of Macromedia Director.

That was my first foray into the world of animation and my most expensive experiment to boot. Director is not cheap. But it is good at what it does.

It lets you lay out pictures on a stage and then move things around using a time line. If you want to get fancy you can use a scripting language that comes with it, but I rarely need to do that unless I am programming a game, and I did that only once.

It’s not the only program of its kind but it is easy animation software if you’re just getting started.

I finally quit using it however as I found a lot of cheaper alternatives on the Internet, and since I’m not a production studio or anything, I can get by with those.

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