Last updated: January 4, 2023

Overview: the best free 2D animation software

Number 1: Pencil 2D

ProductPencil 2D

Pencil2D is a free and open-source animation tool that helps businesses create 2D hand-drawn animated cartoons. Pencil2D, considered the best free drawing software with 2D functions for beginners with its user-friendly interface and intuitive design. You can quickly review work using flipping or rolling techniques. It provides a variety of feature sets including pixel tracker, sound scrubbing, and movie import data import/export, task management, data visualization and more.

The platform is supportive of both Vector and Raster graphics_ a perfect feature rarely found in free programs. Its active community also offers lots of support. Additionally, Pencil 2D allows graphic designers to edit images and videos, adjust the size of the tool panel, view previous or upcoming frames, add layers and duplicate or remove keyframes. It enables users to create digital drawings or paintings through various integrated editing tools.

Simple interface with Raster and Vector graphic supportUnable to change language of the interface
Possibility to control the speed of the program and import images as new layers on particular framesSome of the final results may look a little scratchy
Allows creation of GIF, sketch ink and paint on the goNo colorful enough UI to make realistic blending color

Number 2: Animaker


Animaker is a platform for non designers, beginner and professional artists to create animations and live-action videos in no time. According to its website, Animaker was voted as the No.4 Best Design Product of the World. Its primary function uses the HTML5 engine for making videos and animated GIFs. That’s an excellent option in case that you are unwilling or unable to download software on your computer.

There are lots of creative features: a wide range of templates, auto lip-sync, a library of facial expressions, tons of image and music libraries, and sound effects to create high-quality videos. It’s even possible to record your own voice and add voice overs with your preference with 50+ voices and over 25 languages supported.

Animaker offers a free version with a five-download limit which includes sadly watermarks. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent way to check out Animaker in a free way with no need of inserting credit card info.

Character builder and auto lip-sync optionNot intuitive and offers limited support
Smart move feature to save timeLimited free version includes watermarks
Extensive human-like voices with text-to-speech converterLimited drawing tools

Number 3: OpenToonz


OpenToonz, based on the software “Toonz” is meant for everybody willing to create 2D animated content. The source code is easy to modify in order to add some special features to the software. With this open-source animation software you will be able to work as an artist to create bitmap or vector graphics.

OpenToonz pleases users with a range of interesting features including the effect of automatically changing picture styles by applying the deep learning technology and the effect of producing affected incident light. OpenToonz also has a special tool to draw “skeletal animation” and a scanning tool which is compatible with black and white. Moreover, OpenToonz competes easily with entry-level motion graphics software.

Able to import art from Procreate softwareSteep learning curve that requires a lot of tutorials to learn how to use
GTS scan capabilityRendering freezes at certain frames
Adds light effects and distortionBasic and outdated interface

Number 4: Toon Boom Harmony

ProductToon Boom Harmony

Toon Boom Harmony is the most advanced and powerful software, enabling you to work with bitmap and vector tools to create 2D animations. Its feature set for a traditional 2D animation pipeline is excellent for feature films and high-quality commercial goals.

Toon Boom Harmony also has a system for creating 2D rigged puppet animation which makes it perfect for TV series animation where keeping characters consistent and reusing artwork to save time is a huge advantage. You can even integrate 3D elements for hybrid production and create multiple scenes with Z-depth via this platform. Toon Boom helps you with a wide range of tasks for creating an animated film, but you need to use the best animation tablet to enjoy trouble-free functionality.

Major studios have used Toon Boom Harmony to create shows such as “Rick and Morty,” “Family Guy,” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Unless you are an expert, it requires that you spend some time getting acquainted with the functions offered by this software, and you put some effort in the efficient learning process of using them in the most efficient way.

Art layers and sublayers to separate lines from ColorsExpensive full version
Dynamic Brushes for customizing pressure, tilt or speed of tipsSomehow difficult to learn, it needs specific techniques and best practices
Guide creation of smooth animationSometimes freezes

Number 5: Moho


Moho is the all-in-one versatile animation tool which is perfect for experts looking for a more efficient alternative to traditional animation. It has robust features such as Smart Bones creating skeleton, Smart Warp, frame-by-frame tools, and motion graphs.

The notable point of Moho is its ease of use for creating reusable 2D rigs with special control. It enables you to set target bones, add automatic squash and stretch to any bone, copy and relatively Paste animation between different characters with similar skeletons. This makes it great for TV shows, web series and even for creating video game animation. While it’s not an industry standard animation software, there are Oscar nominated feature films created by this software: The Breadwinner, Song of the Sea, Secret of the Kells, and Wolfwalkers.

Intuitive and fast rigging system for creating charactersMany effects can’t be rendered live and lots of preview renders needed
Unique textures and effects for the charactersLimited hand drawn features
Compatibility with other vector software like Illustrator and PhotoshopStrong system needed to avoid crashes

Number 6: Renderforest


Renderforest is 2D animation software that allows anyone with no experience to create websites, slideshows,high quality videos, logos, mockups and graphic designs with ease and minimal time and effort. You need only to copy paste the script and it generates a video automatically without using any code knowledge.

Renderforest is an all-purpose brand promotion software that is suitable for both private and commercial use. Renderforest’s new designs help freelancers, digital agencies and startups to stand out from the crowd with no need of hiring a design team. It adds a high professional quality touch to your social media platforms to increase the engagement and presence online.

Easy user interface for creating explanatory and advert videosWatermark on the final preview of free version
Video editor and text to voice option with great studio-like qualityLimitations of rendering to only 1 project at a time on the free version
Variety of pre-designed templatesNot much freedom to edit templates

Number 7: Krita


Amateur and professional artists looking for free and open-source painting and animation software should check out Krita. It’s a cross-platform tool considered as an entire digital art studio.

Working with Krita is fun; you are able to choose among a full range of brushes and other painting tools, work with layers, modify vectors, use the full-color palette, and retouch photos with a lot of filters. In addition, the majority of image formats are supported and this makes it very similar to Adobe products. Krita, competes with Photoshop and somehow surpasses it in drawing capabilities.

For creating animations, it uses onion-skinning and frame-by-frame raster animation. Furthermore, Krita supports a variety of dark themes and integrates vector tools for creating comics panels.

Adjustable interface and functionally as advanced as photoshopSome random crashes on big files
Ability to import and export brush packs with lots of flexible optionsLack of documentations for adding features
Mirroring and transform toolsFeatures break due to constant updates

Number 8: Stop Motion Studio

ProductStop Motion Studio

No matter if you are a beginner or a professional, you can use Stop Motion Studio to create 2D GIF animation movies on your YouTube. Stop Motion Studio is easy to use and has features such as intuitive controls and easy frames movement to attract all kinds of users.

Stop Motion Studio focuses on both animating physical objects and drawn characters. You can upload toys, Legos, and objects you own or create all the characters from scratch. Then change the focus, white balance or exposure, and edit frame by frame to have a top-quality result.

Stop Motion Studio uses a storyboard interface and shows all frames in sequence and in chronological order. Editing and rearranging the pictures are available at any time, you just need to drag and drop them with just a few keystrokes.

Magic eraser to remove unwanted objects in the movieNo pre-created special effects
Rotoscoping technique for creating life-live characterNo character templates
Live green-screen effect for background changeNo lip-syncing and no sound editor tools

Number 9: Synfig Studio

ProductSynfig Studio

Synfig Studio is a professional free 2D animation software to create high-quality vector 2D animation, web animations and advertisements. It allows you to import vector objects to create small animated pictures or draw whole parts of cartoons. You have to set key points of the image, and Synfig Studio will fill in the animation or frames in between (inbetweening technique). Besides, this program is a good replacement for expensive photo animation software.

In comparison with other free 2D animation programs, Synfig Studio can boost your productivity with lots of features such as: support many layers ( filters, gradients, distortions, transformations, fractal), spatial resolution-independence, temporal resolution independence, etc.

Automatic creation of the keyframes by vector tweeningComplicated and advanced interface which requires tutorials
Additional skeleton distortionGood RAM and graphics card demanding
Morphing effect (form animation)Stability issues because of often crashes

Number 10: Stykz


As the name suggests, Stykz is the perfect free software for animating simple stick articulated figures in 2D animations. Stick figures, also known as stickmen, are simple line drawings representing human beings.

Stykz is very similar to Pivot Stickfigure Animator, so it has compatibility with Pivot Stickfigure and lets you import STK files from it. Stykz also works with basic vector frames and supports onion-skinning to view the previous frames while you are creating new ones. Therefore it’s possible to modify and customize every individual frame by several handy tools.

User friendly Interface on Windows and macOSLimited to stick figures and very basic shapes
Kid-friendlyNo realistic and professional look
Supports STK format filesA Little dated animation techniques


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Based on what criteria should you choose an animation program?



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