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The Best Animation Software of 2022

Whether you’re a pro or beginner, our list of the best animation software of 2022 will make it easier to pick the best one that suits your needs. Choosing the proper animation software will come down to your art style, budget, and familiarity with a platform’s design tools and features.

Read on for a thorough breakdown of the features, pros and cons, and pricing plans of the five best animation software this year.

What Are the Best Animation Software of 2022?

  1. Adobe Animate
  2. Powtoon
  3. Unity
  4. Blender
  5. Cinema 4D

1. Adobe Animate

Best for beginners and experienced animators

Summary:

In 2016, Adobe Flash Professional was rebranded as Adobe Animate, to emphasize that it is “the premiere animation tool for the web and beyond.” 

With Animate, you can create vector-based or interactive animations for TV shows, video games, UX applications, websites, and other platforms that can benefit from animation. Creating ad banners, embedding audio files, and incorporating animations into infographics or e-learning tutorials are easy with Animate. 

It is compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android operating systems. Transferring and accessing files between devices is a breeze.

Animate includes Adobe Fresco live brushes so users can create expressive, life-like characters and turn static graphics into frame-by-frame walking and talking animation. Animate also has a comprehensive suite of characters, audio rigs, backdrops, and motion assets for an efficient workflow.

Publishing to any platform is easy with Animate—you can share your work on YouTube and social media apps like Twitter. Interacting with your audience and gaining fans couldn’t be simpler.

Adobe Animate enables animators to create interactive, media-rich applications through its comprehensive platform. Engage audiences and elevate your creations with sensational sounds, videos, graphics, and animation. You can import assets from other Adobe applications or create original media for a seamless workflow.

With Animate, easily design immersive websites and interactive applications, distribute files, and create animations with intuitive tools and object-centric coding.

Key Features:

  • Export Formats: Exporting your work from your computer or phone is easy with Animate’s various formats such as WebGL, HTML5 Canvas, or Flash Player format. You can also package assets in .zip files through the OAM package feature.
  • Vector Brushes: Creating 2D vector graphics is simple on Animate. You can tilt and control the pressure of brushstrokes with a stylus or pen. Vector brushes give you more control while working on touch-sensitive devices.
  • Asset Management: This crucial component of a project appears as vector graphics, audio files, sounds, and bitmap files on Animate. All assets are saved conveniently in the Library tab. Assets can be dragged and dropped from a storage source to a canvas with ease. Users can also access Adobe Stock graphics, which can be purchased through Animate.
  • Scripting: This feature is perfect for new coders and those who aspire to be coding professionals. You don’t need to know how JavaScript and ActionScript 3.0 work to get started, thanks to the Code Snippets feature. You can view the details of a graphic animation’s code and understand its vocabulary.

Pros:

  • Part of the Adobe All Apps plan
  • Easy to use on cross-platform assignments
  • Various tools to experiment with
  • Hands-on tutorials
  • Reasonably priced
  • Free trial available

Cons:

  • Not suitable for 3D animation projects
  • Exporting animated SVG files can sometimes be a problem

Pricing Plans:

  • For Individuals: $20.99/mo
  • For Students and Teachers
    • Billed monthly: $19.99 per month ($239.88/yr)
    • Billed upfront: $239.88 per year ($19.99/mo)
  • Extensive plans for businesses, schools, and universities

2. Powtoon

Best for: Anyone who wants to create compelling, engaging visual content

Summary:

Powtoon is an online platform through which you can create short basic or professional video presentations. Users can enhance their communication objectives through powerful, interactive visuals. 

Powtoon’s rich library of live-action videos, animation, images, soundtracks, moving graphics, and backgrounds let you choose how you want to create content. You can even incorporate voiceovers into your visual content.

Powtoon is an innovative alternative to traditional teaching methods—showcase your ideas through videos and help audiences deepen their understanding of a subject. Users can take advantage of tools such as presentations, whiteboard doodling, and video creation.

Choose any of the platform’s preset animations, video footage, and characters to get started, or upload your creations and graphic files to complete a project. Powtoon integrates with platforms such as HubSpot, Powerpoint, Canva, and Adobe to make transitioning between them a breeze. Final creations can be easily exported to social media apps or websites.

Powtoon is a visual communication platform that adds substance and meat to animated videos and presentations. It’s the perfect tool for educational figures to share engaging content with students. The user-friendly platform is for amateurs and professionals who want to take their video and audio skills to the next level—Powtoon turns mundane static graphics into visual art.

Key Features:

  • Training and eLearning: Powtoon is equipped with everything users need to create learning materials for instructor-style or self-led courses. Access teaching material through Courseware to elevate a learner’s existing curriculum or interest in a subject. You can also track the progress of students or team members.
  • Screen Capture: Capture parts of an open window or desktop and make edits or changes with Powtoon’s suite of image editing tools. Users can capture still images (with the ability to copy text from the screen capture) and videos. Access stock images and previously captured content with the convenient search feature.
  • Presentation Tools: Effectively communicate with teams through the platform’s animations, transitions, and icons to amplify presentation slides. Elevating presentations is easy with the option to add voiceover narration. Users can switch to a presenter-only view to see notes and annotations while a presentation is in progress.
  • File Sharing and Integration: Sharing files between platforms is a breeze through Powtoon. Publish and download content on the go with the mobile-accessible option. Powtoon can be integrated with Adobe Photoshop CC as an extension for those who wish to convert static graphics into interactive videos.

Pros:

  • Easy to navigate
  • A diverse library of visual content
  • Plenty of tutorials to create impactful videos
  • Easy-to-use templates
  • Student-friendly features

Cons:

  • Lack of animation
  • Limited character types
  • Presentations can take a bit of time to load

Pricing Plans:

  • Free Plan: 100MB of storage and full access to free content
  • Pro: $89/month billed monthly, or $228 billed yearly with 2GB of storage and full access to Pro and free content
  • Pro+: $197/month billed monthly, or $708 billed yearly with 10GB of storage and full access to content
  • Agency: $1,188 billed yearly with 100GB of storage and full access to content
  • Business: Available by request

3. Unity

Best for: Beginner and professional graphic designers and developers in architecture, construction, engineering, automotive, gaming, and film

Summary:

Unity streamlines the creation of 2D and 3D animation. The platform is a powerful space for creative artists from myriad industries beyond gaming and film. The learning curve is quite high, but with Unity’s free plan, you can get the hang of the platform before committing to a professional package.

Unity is a multi-faceted platform for animators who want to create quick prototypes or simulations before transforming them into games, videos, and cinematic visuals in real-time. Creators have more time to focus on developing a story or idea by letting Unity take the lead. 

Create impactful 2D or 3D animation through a scriptable interface like Unity’s Shader Graph, a node-based authoring tool that supports quick iteration time during the shader creation process.

Unity quickens real-time rendering by providing instant feedback during development. Design changes show up immediately in the production, allowing teams to work through changes and updates. 

For games, Unity has an Editor feature that presents a View Mode and Game Mode to analyze and focus on certain elements while games run. The feature lets gaming creators fix bugs in real-time.

With Unity’s editing and sequencing tools, creators can manipulate movements, time, and positions without coding. 

Unity also has comprehensive resources, tutorials, and forums for beginners and pros alike. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux, and Android operating systems.

Key Features:

  • Integration with Content Creation Tools: Swap animations, lighting, cameras, special effects, and models between Unity and popular content creation tools. With Alembic, USD, and FBX workflows, you can work with various formats as per your asset pipeline in real-time.
  • Editing and Sequencing Tools: Experiment with how actions, lights, and visual effects combine by manipulating movement, angles, and time. Users can make immediate and real-time edits to their creations without coding.
  • Cinematic Visuals: Unity relies on High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) to produce cinema-level graphics. Access professional tools such as real-time ray tracing, visual shader creation, and rendering to take your projects to the next level.
  • Faster Production: Unity enables teams to work smarter on non-creative tasks. Deliver scenes, episodes, footage, and shots more quickly through Unity’s automated processes, such as quicker rendering and shared compositions.

Pros:

  • A great starting point for 2D and 3D animation content creators
  • Works seamlessly across various gaming platforms
  • Users can download, sell, and share assets
  • Streamlined workflow pipelines 
  • A large community of animation content creators
  • All subscription plans are royalty-free
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • The free version doesn’t include some basic features
  • Licensing costs for mobile device integration can be quite expensive
  • Performance issues if CPU memory isn’t adequate

Pricing Plans:

  • Unity Pro: Prepaid yearly at $1,800 or paid monthly at $150 per seat
  • Unity Plus: Prepaid yearly at $399 or paid monthly at $40 per seat

4. Blender

Best for: Experienced animation creators and 3D printing enthusiasts

Summary:

Blender is a free, open-source 3D animation and modeling software perfect for beginners. The platform is home to community-led contributors worldwide—scientists, animators, developers, and other enthusiasts have come together to improve Blender with new plug-ins and tools.

This animation software offers innovative tools like automatic skinning, texturing, inverse kinematics, and soft body simulation. Built-in brushes for Clay Strips, Crease, Mask, Smooth, and Grab functionalities give animators a seamless, superior experience. You can also manipulate facial expressions and enhance skeletal rigs to create expressive and life-like characters.

Blender’s complex yet user-friendly interface is excellent for budding animation content creators with a keen interest in 3D rendering or animation.

Blender is a popular platform for hobbyists, 3D artists, professional animation creators, and independent studios for its natural, intuitive interface. Major players in the industry, such as Meta and Ubisoft, have used Blender for marketing and communications projects. The General Public License allows users to access many projects and assets besides the platform’s highly diverse tools.

Key Features:

  • 2D and 3D Drawing: Storyboarders and artists can view their work in 2D and 3D renditions to experiment with different creative formats. Add colors, layers, sculpted brushstrokes, and full animation enhancements on one platform.
  • Visual Effects: Import and track (manually or automatically) raw footage, conceal areas, and view camera movement in a 3D format. With object tracking and production-ready camera sweeps, you can bring your grandest ideas to life.
  • Blender Studio: An exclusive team of developers and animators push the envelope of creative technical skills to engage and educate Blender users. All work is shared through an open-source environment with free licenses. The studio is accessible for a monthly fee of $11.50.
  • Modeling and Sculpting Tools: Transform characters and scenes with Blender’s highly intuitive and dynamic tools and brushes. Custom tools and add-ons rely on Python scripting API so programmers can easily manipulate data.

Pros:

  • Free subscription
  • Professional-grade animation
  • Robust features within an open-source platform

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve
  • A relatively complex interface that may not be easy to navigate for beginners

5. Cinema 4D

Best for: Experienced and newbie animators

Summary:

Cinema 4D was created by a German company called Maxon. The 3D modeling, rendering, simulation, and animation platform has a dynamic, highly perceptive interface through which you can create motion graphics, animation, and VFX videos, games, and visual aids. 

Cinema 4D makes it easy for beginners to start experimenting with diverse tools and features; the interface is also fairly simple to navigate and get accustomed to. 

The platform integrates with MoGraph, an animation and modeling tool that simplifies the process of working with sequences and animations. 

Users can enjoy a mind-blowing selection of features, such as 3D body painting, texturing, volume modeling, and even cloth simulation, to create captivating graphics with dimension, depth, and true-to-life results.

Cinema 4D is the gold standard of motion graphics and animation. It is an impressive platform with a suite of intuitive and high-end features worth the investment. It presents a world of opportunities in procedural modeling and animation. Thanks to Cineware, you can seamlessly integrate design and animation software.

Key Features:

  • After Effects Integration: Integrate Cinema 4D’s Live 3D Pipeline with After Effects to import, manipulate, and render projects. After Effects’ files can also be exported from Cinema 4D with all layers and 3D objects intact.
  • Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop Integration: Export vector graphics and PSDs in just a few clicks to take projects to the next level.
  • Simulation Effects: Krakatoa’s particle rendering system integrates with Cinema 4D to bring simulations to life. Use RealFlow to create fluid simulations such as liquid splashes. And with TurbulenceFD, you can tweak geometric or particle systems to enhance the visual effects created by air, smoke, fire, and clouds.

Pros:

  • Create complex animation sequences
  • Easier to get used to than most animation platforms
  • A stable interface that isn’t likely to crash
  • Ease of operation

Cons:

  • Hefty user license
  • Modeling workflow could be improved
  • Render windows are challenging to work with

Pricing Plans:

  • Individuals: $719/year (annual billing) or $94/month (monthly billing)
  • Schools and Universities: $75/year
  • Student and Teachers: $9.99 semi-annually (the Maxon One plan includes all of the company’s platforms, including Cinema 4D)
  • Teams: $949/year
  • Perpetual Use: One-time fee of $3495 (perpetual products require paid upgrades for updated versions)

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Features to Look For in Animation Software?

Here are the top things to consider when choosing the best animation software:

Drawing Tools

Blending and brush tools are crucial features to control and breathe life into your elements. You should be able to import or customize brushes to make all the changes you need.

Templates

With templates, you can simplify and accelerate the design process. It’s best to have access to an extensive library of backgrounds, animations, graphics, and characters to build off of.

Import and Export

Import and export files between various platforms for seamless integration and an efficient workflow.

Device Support

You should be able to use your animation platform across various devices, such as your desktop computer, tablet, and mobile phone. 

Conclusion

Choosing the best animation software to use should be easier now that you know about its best features. Before committing to a certain platform, give it a spin for a few days or weeks and evaluate its features before signing up for a long-term professional plan.

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About
Dan Ben-Nun

Dan Ben-Nun is a successful entrepeneur and digital marketing guru. He’s founded & grown 2 companies from zero to multi-million dollar businesses and has helped hundreds of companies grow with digital marketing.

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The Best Animation Software of 2022

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