Do you remember the last time you were completely captivated by a character animation?
Maybe it was the loveable characters from a childhood cartoon or the stunningly realistic animations from a blockbuster movie. Whatever it was, there's no denying the power of character animation to capture our imaginations and transport us to new worlds.
And now, with the abundance of character animation software available, you can bring your characters to life on screen. But with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
That's why we've brought this list of the 11 best character animation software options for beginners and pros, so you can find the perfect tool to bring your characters to life.
So get ready to unleash your creativity and bring your characters to life in a whole new way!
Top 11 Free and Paid Character Animation Software
1. Toon Boom Harmony - Character Animation Software
Toon Boom is a premium 2D character animation software that offers above-par quality. It is a great asset for professionals, containing almost everything an experienced animator needs to produce a stunning 2D animation video. It is software that Disney, Fox, and other corporations love.
Features of Toon Boom Harmony
- Vector-based drawing tools for easy creation and editing of professional video animations.
- The program is compatible with more than 1 language, including English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese.
- The Node-based animation workflow helps the user to work smoothly.
- Its advanced cut-out rigging tools polish the designed character animations.
- The Bone Deform option enables you to deform cut-out figures for resulting in realistic movements.
Pros of Toon Boom Harmony
- Toon Boom's toolset lets users make premium animations using frame-by-frame animation.
- Its simple interface quickly makes the features accessible for creating animations.
- The program's shared workspace helps the animators work together on real-time projects.
- Delivering animations becomes easy with several formats, including full HD, 4K, and 8K.
Cons of Toon Boom Harmony
- The program is not easy to work with.
- The main requirements of the program are a system with a high-end graphics card and much RAM.
- Its price is a barrier for independent animators and small studios working with limited budgets.
Pricing of Toon Boom Harmony
- Toon Boom's Essentials - USD 27.00/month (USD 219.50 annual billing)
- Toon Boom's Advanced - USD 67.50/month (USD 525.00 annual billing)
- Toon Boom's Premium - USD 123.50/month (USD 1,001.50 annual billing)
- 2D animation
2. Adobe Animate - Character Animation Software
Adobe Animate is a simple-to-use 2D character animation software. It does an excellent job for beginner animators who want to try their hands at character animation.
It has an intuitive user interface and plenty of features for beginners to learn and make incredible animated videos. You can find a character animation template and start immediately with Adobe Animate.
Adobe Animate has a short learning curve, but you can find enough drawing and rigging tools to create fantastic online videos. However, it is not for advanced users. You do not need to spend a lot of money upfront for trying out Adobe Animate.
Features of Adobe Animate
- This paid software has a powerful timeline that offers precise control over animation keyframes and the ability to add sound.
- The toolset of Adobe Animate, including buttons, actions, and scripting support, makes great animations and games.
- The tool can export animations to several platforms, including HTML5, Flash, WebGL, and other video formats.
Pros of Adobe Animate
- The active user community helps in learning the Adobe Animate program without prior knowledge.
- The software program collaborates with other Adobe products, making it easier for designers to work across different programs.
- Lip synchronization with the characters is easy to go with.
- It is the best character animation software for beginners.
Cons of Adobe Animate
- A few individual users or small businesses cannot afford it.
- It can be initially challenging for the ones new to animation.
- The performance of Adobe Animate needs to right system configuration to run smoothly.
- However, Adobe Animate can export animations for mobile devices, but the software is not optimized for mobile use.
Pricing of Adobe Animate
7-day free trial. Following are the subscription plans for accessing the program.
- Monthly - US$30.48
- Yearly - US$20.31/month
- Yearly - US$232.23/one time
- 2D character animation software
3. Cinema 4D - Character Animation Software
The software is also known for its comprehensive tools and stunning performance to create the best marketing videos for the brand.
Features of Cinema 4D
- Up-to-date modeling tools for forming models and characters.
- Diversity of animation options, including keyframe animation, inverse kinematics, and motion graphics.
- Its Built-in compositing and motion graphics tools design amazing visual animation effects.
- Plugins and an SDK let users customize the software and create tools.
- MoGraph toolset for the usage of motion graphics and animation tools.
- Multiple renderers - Physical, Arnold, Octane, and Redshift, get support.
Pros of Cinema 4D
- The software has a convenient interface.
- It is well-equipped with tools, modeling, rigging, animation, lighting, texturing, and rendering.
- Maintenance of stability with no crashing issues.
Cons of Cinema 4D
- Its new variant is expensive with a pricing of $3700.
- The modeling workflow needs improvement.
Pricing of Cinema 4D
- 14 days free trial, with a subscription plan as follows.
- US$67.10/month (US$805.20/annually)
- 2D and 3D animation
4. Mango Animate - Character Animation Software
Forget those days of dull, lifeless animations and greet the limitless possibilities with Mango Animate Character. With its simple and intuitive interface, even the most inexperienced animator can create realistic animated characters quickly with unique character poses in mind.
So, what are you waiting for? Let your creativity rule the world with Mango Animate Character Animation Maker.
Features of Mango Animate
- Collection of pre-made action skeleton structures and motion templates.
- Comprehensive clothing, skin color, and facial expression tools.
- Support for PNG and PSD import.
- Accessory library for the objects and characters.
- Easy and quick audio and video imports.
- Inverse Kinematic control (IK) option to determine the character's positions.
Pros of Mango Animate
- The free version is available.
- Presence of pre-made character templates.
- Tool for converting text to speech.
- Add voiceovers with easy-to-go tools in the software.
Cons of Mango Animate
- The major drawback of this tool is that it just works on Windows.
Pricing of Mango Animate
A free version is available.
- Mango Character Maker - One-Time Payment of $139
- 2D and 3D animation
5. Avatar SDK - Character Animation Software
Avatar SDK is a software designed to help game developers and content creators quickly create and animate realistic 3D avatars.
The software offers a variety of features that can help to speed up the animation process and produce high-quality character models. Below are some of the key features, pros, and cons of Avatar SDK.
Features of Avatar SDK
- The Avatar SDK allows users to create customized avatars with a few clicks.
- This program lets users animate their avatars by capturing real-time facial movements using a webcam.
- The tool can track the user's body movements using motion capture technology.
- The software allows users to record audio and use it to animate the avatar's mouth movements.
- Avatar SDK can be integrated into game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine.
- It also supports various file formats like FBX, OBJ, and Collada.
Pros of Avatar SDK
- The software's built-in presets and customization options make its use easy for even novice users.
- The software's advanced tracking technology helps to create realistic animations for their avatars.
- Avatar SDK is relatively affordable compared to other character animation software.
Cons of Avatar SDK
- Users may find the options limiting compared to other character animation programs.
- There is a requirement for a webcam and motion capture hardware to use the software's tracking features, which can be an additional expense.
- 2D and 3D animation
6. SitePal - Character Animation Software
SitePal is a character animation software that enables users to create virtual characters that can be used for various purposes, such as website avatars, presentations, and e-learning modules. SitePal offers a range of features that can help users create engaging, interactive, and visually appealing content.
Features of SitePal
SitePal offers a variety of features that make it a powerful character animation software, including:
- SitePal allows customizing their characters with various options, from clothing to facial expressions
- It includes a text-to-speech feature to type in a text, select a voice, and let the characters speak it.
- SitePal's lip sync tool ensures that the character's mouth movements match the spoken text.
- The program provides several animation options, including gestures and movements.
- It can integrate with platforms like PowerPoint to create engaging presentations or e-learning modules.
Pros of SitePal
There are several advantages to using SitePal as your character animation software:
- This program is user-friendly, requiring no coding or technical skills.
- It provides various customization options to create characters that match the brand.
- The software's animations, lip sync, and gestures make the characters more engaging.
- This tool serves various purposes, from website avatars to e-learning modules.
Cons of SitePal
While SitePal has many advantages, there are a few drawbacks to consider:
- SitePal is a subscription-based service, which can be expensive for some users.
- Users may have limited control over the animation and movements of their characters.
- The selection of pre-made characters may be limited for some users.
- The creation of custom characters can be time-consuming.
7. Autodesk Maya - Character Animation Software
People working for marketers as animators, VFX artists, motion graphics artists, 3D models, and lighting artists have employed this tool to produce realistic VFX and motion graphics.
Selecting Autodesk Maya will be the perfect choice for a 3D character animation tool. Let's take a closer look at them.
Features of Autodesk Maya
- It has workspaces that allow customization.
- Polygon modeling, NURBs, and sculpture modeling tools are available.
- Existence of Cached playback feature.
Pros of Autodesk Maya
- Installing this tool is simple and stress-free.
- The Time Editor and Graph editor makes complicated animations easily.
- Capable of heavy rendering with the available tools.
- Addition of scripts and plugins with its python API.
- The node-based workflow lets the users create fantastic 3D work.
Cons of Autodesk Maya
- It is expensive compared to other character animation programs.
- The characteristic of this 3D premium animation software that stands out is its demanding learning curve, including its node editor and scene hierarchy.
Pricing of Autodesk Maya
- The free trial version is just for 30 days.
- Subscription plan - $205/month
- 3D character animation
8. Daz 3D - Character Animation Software
An all-rounder 3D character animation software for animators to pose, animate, and render human-looking models in 3D. Its main aim is to create exceptional pre-made character poses and animations.
Features of DAZ 3D will bring the reasons for choosing it as the top character animation tool -
- Option of hand-painting models by focusing on the details of it.
- The program imports animation content from other tools like Maya and 3Ds Max.
- The final video output can be exported in Universal 3D, BVH, FBX, and other formats.
- Customization of character types is effortless manner.
- Morphing capabilities for seamless transitions of characters or objects.
- Use of male and female clones.
Pros of Daz 3D
- It has easy export and import capability.
- The presence of tutorials creates a comprehensive understanding of the program.
Cons of Daz 3D
- Production of characters irrespective of their gender with the choice in the hand of the artist.
- There should be the availability of small bodily features like eyebrows, body hair, etc.
Pricing of Daz 3D
- It is free of cost.
- 3D character animation
9. Adobe Character Animator - Character Animation Software
Adobe Character Animator's name suggests its specialty in making awesome Character animation videos. Whether creating a cartoon series, an explainer video, or an interactive experience, this program brings your objects to life as animated characters with minimal effort.
Allow us to bring you an accessible interface and comprehensive features to create expressive, dynamic, and advanced animations.
Features of Adobe Character Animator
- The motion library consists of 300+ full-body animation characters.
- Starter mode is designed for newbies to make animated videos quickly and easily.
- Quick export tool for exporting animations quickly.
Pros of Adobe Character Animator
- It has a free and accessible starter mode for beginners to create animation videos.
- Option of publishing the final output on various platforms.
- Unbeatable vector illustrations
- Helpful user community to make the work process simple.
Cons of Adobe Character Animator
- The major drawback is that it does not support the HEIC format.
- The option for camera control can be more professional.
Pricing of Adobe Character Animator
- Free trial – 7 days
- Creative Cloud All Apps – $52.99/mo billed yearly
- Students and teachers – $19.99/mo billed yearly
- Business – $33.99/mo billed yearly
- 2D and 3D Character animation
10. Design Doll - Character Animation Software
Terawell, a Japanese software company, develops Design Doll, a 3D character modeling and posing software that allows users to create and animate realistic human models for various purposes, such as art, illustration, animation, and game development.
Features of Design Doll
- Design Doll helps to create 3D models of characters from scratch, which can be customized and adjusted to fit specific needs.
- 360-degree camera view
- A library of pre-made poses, models, and facial expressions, making it easier for beginners to get started.
- The software allows the manipulation of poses and easily adjusts the position, angle, and orientation of limbs, joints, and body parts.
- Users can simulate real-world physics in their animations, such as gravity, weight, and inertia.
- The program allows users to export their creations as OBJ files or in other formats to use in other 3D software.
- various perspective functions, deformations resembling hand drawings or emphatic expressions
- Eye-level displays and change of camera perspective
Pros of Design Doll
- It offers various animations, including walking, running, and various actions, which can be used to create dynamic and realistic animations.
- It lets users export the animation data as BVH or FBX files for use in other animation programs.
- Hand shapes can be created quickly by creating rough shapes in simple mode and then using the detailed mode.
- Auto-update option s available in the character animation program.
Cons of Design Doll
- Design Doll is primarily a 3D modeling and animation software and does not provide all the features and tools of a full-fledged animation suite.
- The software program's small user community may limit the availability of tutorials and resources.
- Its learning path may require some time to get familiar with its interface and functionality.
Pricing of Design Doll
- Free version
- Pro version - $79 (one-time purchase)
- 3D character animation
11. iClone - Character Animation Software
iClone is a popular character animation software developed by Reallusion. It is primarily designed for creating 3D animations, films, games, and education. With iClone, users can create custom characters, animate them, and add special effects and props to their scenes.
Features of iClone
- Inclusion of 2000+ free resources in the form of customizable pre-built characters, where the characters' facial expressions, body movements, and clothing are modifiable.
- The Motion live tool supports motion capture to record real-time movements of objects and transfer them into their animations.
- The program has advanced facial and body animation tools to design realistic human movements.
- It has real-time lighting and shadow effects for producing flawless animations.
- It lets to export creations in formats like FBX, OBJ, 3DS, and more.
Pros of iClone
- The interface is user-friendly, and the software has various tutorials to help users get started.
- iClone has a wide range of customizable options, from the characters to the environments.
- The program is more affordable than other similar software on the market.
- The software supports real-time rendering for a stable environment.
- 14 days money-back guarantee.
Cons of iClone
- A compatibility issue exists as users may need to export their creations in different formats to employ them in other software.
- The software may not have as many advanced features as some other animation software. This may limit what users can create.
- The software may require high system requirements, limiting the number of users using it.
Pricing of iClone
- Free version
- iClone 8 - $599.00
- 3D character animation
How to select the most appropriate Character Animation Software?
To get your hands on the software that will provide the highest value for your business, you must be aware of the alternatives and analyze your needs. After following the steps, your chances of selecting the best software will drastically increase.
Here are the steps you must follow in choosing the best possible tools for your project.
Define your goal
At first, you need to figure out what
it is that you want to do. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
- What kinds of animated videos do you want to produce?
- What are the objectives of the videos? Is it for selling products, producing a short movie, or others?
- What is the sophistication of the videos that you want for the product?
You can decide what software you need for your project by getting the answers to these questions. If you are still confused, you can get expert consultation.
List out the features that you may need to make the video
You will need a lot of features to create sophisticated animated videos. However, you may not need all advanced features to make a simple animated explainer video to sell a product. Make a list of features you may need to make a video before seeking alternatives.
To list the features you may need for your project, you can ask animators online and research the software features mentioned on the site.
Some pieces of animation software have a stiffer learning curve but have many features.
If you are starting, you may want to go for an essential part of the software that may not have all advanced features but is easy to get started and have enough features for your project.
Explore the options according to your needs
Your next job is to explore the options according to your needs. There are a separate set of tools for 2D and 3D animation.
Now that you know your needs and the features you require in software to create a video, let's move on to the list of character animation software tools. Go through this list of animator tools and select the one most appropriate for your project.
Pull up your socks to dive into the ocean of Character Animation Software
Some people may prefer one type of software over others, which works great for them. One of the mistakes people often make is that they, too, go for that same software after observing the excellent results of their peers. However, things do not work that way.
We strongly believe that there is one animator software tool for everyone out there, one that suits your particular requirements, irrespective of the level of proficiency you are looking for.
However, only you can determine which character animation software suits you and your business. And when you finally figure this out, you'll be amazed to see the exceptional outcomes.
We hope you find this list of animation software tools for beginners helpful. The best part is all these software either have free versions or offer free trials. So, you don't have to worry about spending even a single penny to try them out and bring your brand to life.
Have another character animation software tool for beginners that’s not listed here? Feel free to share with us. Till then, Happy Animating!