The 19 Best 2D Animation Software of 2022 (Free & Paid)

Last Updated on June 20, 2022 by Marcelo Beilin

The world of 2D animation software is a vast and exciting place to explore. 

There are many types of tools that offer different features for animators of all levels yet they all share one common goal: generating interesting characters you can interact with in an engaging way. 

Whether you're looking for quick and easy to use 2D animation software or studio-quality, we've got you covered with this list of the 19 best rated programs on the market today, including a summary of the top 3 editor's picks below for your convenience:

Used by more than half of the world's top-100 grossing mobile apps

lharmony toyboom

Features the most advanced brush engine in the industry. Advanced color management.

Powtoon-logo

Large library of pro-designed templates. Over 800 free pre-made tones and backgrounds.

Disclosure: Although I receive affiliate compensation at no additional cost to you to support this site that compensation in no way influences my recommendations, which are strictly informed by my 10+ years of online business experience consulting for clients large and small. My aim is to always recommend tools that offer the best return for your investment (for more details, read my Affiliate Disclosure). 

What is the Best 2D-Animation Software?

Best Overall:

Adobe Animate

Adobe Animate is the perfect system for creating animated web and mobile content. It’s a powerful illustration and animation tool that lets you publish your work to multiple platforms in just about any format. You can also reach viewers on any screen size and type with Animate.

With this software, you can build game environments, design start screens, integrate audio, add interactivity with buttons or other objects — all without writing code. With so many features, it’s easy to see why more than half of the world's top-100 grossing mobile apps are made using Animate. 

Selected Features

  • Virtual camera functionality that simulates natural camera movements giving your animation a more realistic view
  • Export format that allows you to easily view your animation from a desktop or a mobile device
  • Availability of vector brushes to add pressure and tilt functionality to your lines and strokes with the help of a stylus

Pricing: $20.99 per month

Best Ease of Use:

Harmony ToonBoom

Harmony21 is another industry leading professional 2D animation software program. With features like rulers, guides, and color control you can create anything with total ease. And with innovative deformers that let you bring reality and fantasy within millimeters of each other, there’s no limit to your creation.

This animation software is perfect for animators of all skill levels and has an intuitive interface that allows you to work uninterrupted without ever having to stop to figure out how something works. Harmony21 includes over 1,000 free assets ranging from characters, props, backgrounds, sound effects, music tracks — everything you'll ever need for an animated project.

Selected Features

  • Advanced color management environments and effects give animators full control over the accuracy of their project’s colors, from initial illustration to final export
  • Features the most advanced brush engine in the industry
  • Vector and raster drawing tools available

Pricing: $25 - $115 per month

Best Budget:

Powtoon

Powtoon is one of the most popular 2D animation software tools on the market. It’s easy and fun to use, allowing you to make professional-quality animations in minutes without any design or video experience.

The simple drag-and-drop interface lets you easily build a high-quality video quickly by picking a template and adding text, images, and animated characters with just a few clicks of your mouse. Alternatively, you can also create an entire animation from scratch.

Selected Features

  • Large library of professionally-designed templates, scenes, characters, props, soundtracks, text, and millions of videos to choose from
  • Over 800 free pre-made tones and backgrounds
  • Customize brushes by selecting from different shapes and then adjusting the size, opacity, hardness, angle and curve of each shape separately

Pricing: $33/month billed annually

pencil2D

Animaker is an online do-it-yourself animation video maker that brings studio quality presentations within everyone's reach. It’s easy to use, and it doesn’t require any special skills or training.

You can create professional animations in minutes with just your voice, photos, and videos from your phone or computer.

With Animaker, anyone can be a storyteller. You don't need any experience in image design or programming — just pick a template and start adding your content. In minutes, you'll have an eye-catching video that will engage viewers.

Selected Features

  • Tons of professionally made animation templates
  • The world’s largest collection of animated characters, properties, BGs, icons, images, and videos 
  • Automated lip-syncing allows you to add voice overs to your characters and watch them say it without having to animate the character’s lips.

Pricing: $10-$39 per month

Synfig Studio

Synfig Studio is a free and open-source 2D animation software. It's perfect for those who need to create their own animations, illustrations or graphics. You can use it for a whole range of applications, from creating simple flipbooks to complex animated films.

Since this software is free and open-source, there’s an active community of artists on the forums that can help answer questions if needed as well as provide feedback on your work.

Selected Features

  • More than 50 layers allow you to create highly complex animations, using many different layer types, including geometric, gradients, filters, distortions, transformations and fractals
  • Powerful vector tweening tools for full control over your vector artwork — set the key positions and in-between frames will be automatically calculated
  • Full-featured bone system allows to create cutout animation using bitmap images or control your vector artwork 

Pricing: Free

CelAction 2D

CellAction2D is an industry-leading 2D animation software tool used by many award-winning films, TV series and advertising campaigns. It's the software of choice for many leading animators and studios and represents the state-of-the-art in production-quality animation.

The program has an intuitive interface that makes it easy to learn how to animate with just a few clicks but also comes with a powerful built-in audio engine that allows your characters to talk fluently without glitches, giving you the quality of hand-crafted animation.

Selected Features

  • Over 60 special visual effects
  • Can animate vectors, scanned paintings, photos or even 3D CGI
  • CelAction2D allows you to separate the drawing from the animation so you can split your team into designers and animators.

Pricing: $71 per month billed annually

FlipBook

FlipBook is the easiest and most intuitive 2D animation software to learn. It's perfect for beginners, kids, or anyone who wants to create professional-quality animations without any prior experience.

With FlipBook you can easily animate your characters using built-in tools that are designed specifically for ease of animation, including working with layers, masks, and filters just like Photoshop.

They also have a ton of tutorials on how to animate anything from a simple bouncing ball to an entire cityscape.

Selected Features

  • Draw directly into FlipBook with a graphics tablet or draw on paper and scan in your final drawings for coloring
  • Pan, Zoom, Rotate, Blur and Dissolve your frames
  • Export your finished movies as QuickTime or AVI files, and then edit them using your favorite video editor

Pricing: $19.99-$99.99

opentoonz

Opentoonz is a free and open source animation program designed with simplicity in mind.

It allows you to create your own cartoons by picking from different options such as types of characters, backgrounds, expressions and movements.

You can then move the characters around the scene and change colors by clicking on a palette.

While this software is often overlooked due to the free cost, it surprisingly punches well above its weight when it comes to features.

Selected Features

  • Works for both Windows and MacOS
  • Special effects include wavy distortion and affected incident light
  • Can be used for both commercial and non-commercial projects

Pricing: Free

renderforest

Renderforest is an easy-to-use online tool that lets you create video animations, slideshow presentations, music visualizations and many other types of animated content in minutes right on the cloud.

It offers a large catalog of video templates with dozens of categories to choose from. It also allows you to upload your own images and videos.

Selected Features

  • Intuitive UX with minimal learning curve required
  • Over 300 video templates for all different types of videos
  • Export videos to publish on YouTube or to further edit offline

Pricing: Starts at $49

animaker

Animaker is an online do-it-yourself animation video maker that brings studio quality presentations within everyone's reach. It’s easy to use, and it doesn’t require any special skills or training.

You can create professional animations in minutes with just your voice, photos, and videos from your phone or computer.

With Animaker, anyone can be a storyteller. You don't need any experience in image design or programming — just pick a template and start adding your content. In minutes, you'll have an eye-catching video that will engage viewers.

Selected Features

  • Tons of professionally made animation templates
  • The world’s largest collection of animated characters, properties, BGs, icons, images, and videos 
  • Automated lip-syncing allows you to add voice overs to your characters and watch them say it without having to animate the character’s lips.

Pricing: $10-$39 per month

animationpaper

Animation Paper was designed by award-winning Danish animator and director Niels Krogh Mortensen to create “the world’s most responsive, intuitive and powerful software for doing one thing, and one thing only: hand-drawn animation."

This software is equally versatile for beginners, professional animators, game developers and film makers.

Selected Features

  • Super fast responsiveness (drawing, flipping, etc.)
  • Real-time smooth rotation and zooming of the view
  • Fully customizable light table
  • Works on Windows, MacOS and Linux

Pricing: Free

12. Maya

maya

Maya is an industry-leading animation tool that makes it simple to create and edit complex animations with great effects.

This software is well known in the gaming and film industries and can easily handle modeling, shading and rendering for static images and animation.

Selected Features

  • Fast playback, time and graph editors
  • Ready to use graphs
  • Interactive hair grooming

Pricing: $215/month or $1,700 annually

realussion-crazytalk-animator-2d

Reallusion Cartoon Animator is a power animation tool designed to help animators create 2D animated characters with 3D motion graphics. It's suited equally well for both hobbyists and professionals.

Selected Features

  • Elastic and bouncy curve editing
  • 2D facial free form deformation
  • Audio lip-syncing
  • Smart motion re-targeting
  • stretch animation

Pricing: $139

14. Krita

krita

Krita is a free open-source illustration program originally created in 1998. Throughout the years, it's been developed by an active Krita community, getting more and more capable with each update.

Available for Windows, Mac and Linux, Krita is a great alternative to commercial applications like Photoshop. It can be used to create concept art, comics, animations and much more.

Selected Features

  • Large selection of filters
  • Ability to add transparency masks to layers
  • Ability to open and save files in Photoshop format

Pricing: Free

15. Moho

moho

Moho is a professional animation software tool that can handle multiple styles with ease, such as anime, traditional cartoons, cut-out, photo animation and more.

The key advantage of Moho is it’s ease of use for creating reusable 2D rigs with a great control, making it perfect for video, web series and video game animation.

Selected Features

  • Real Motion Blur
  • Smart Warp
  • Bezier Handles and Pin Bones

Pricing: $59.99-$399.99

stopmotionstudio

Stop Motion Studio lets you get into stop motion animation quickly on any iOS or Android device without requiring any prior experience.

You can use its intuitive interface to add sound effects, background music and special effects, and with features like manual exposure and onion skinning, you can create animations that look great right out of the box.

Selected Features

  • Automatically capture frames with an adjustable time interval feature
  • Integrated movie editor with frame-by-frame preview
  • Zoom in and out on the timeline view

Pricing: $6.49

tupitube

TupiTube is a 2D animation software tool focused on children, teenagers, and beginners. It makes it super easy to create and share animations with friends.

Selected Features

  • Vector Drawings
  • Bone Tool
  • Sound Synchronization
  • Custom Characters
  • Digital Effects

Pricing: Free

keyshot

KeyShot is a high-end but easy to use ray-tracing and global illumination program used to create photo realistic renderings, animations and interactive visuals in real time without the need for special graphic cards.

Selected Features

  • Import over 20 different file types
  • Drag-n-drop material and environment presets
  • Interactive labeling, texture mapping and physical lighting

Pricing: $995-$3,995

dp-animation-maker

DP Animation Maker allows you to turn your 2D art into stunning animations, allowing you to quickly produce animated introductions for games, presentations, and many other projects with simplicity and speed.

Selected Features

  • Smart Animation Brushes
  • Large library of ready-to-use animations
  • Automatic Looped Video Generation

Pricing: $39.77

What is Digital Animation?

Digital animation is the process of creating animated images on a computer. You can use digital animation for anything from creating an entire movie or TV show to adding special effects to a film you're working on. You can also use it to bring video games to life or make cartoons come alive.

What's the Difference Between 2D and 3D Animation?

2D animation is a type of traditional hand-drawn or computer animation that uses a single plane to create motion as the viewer's eye sweeps through frames in sequence.

3D animation has three planes: one side being the character as seen from the front (the camera), with two sides being cutaway views from different angles; these all combine to produce a more realistic movement than 2D can offer.

What Are the Top 3 Tools for 2D Animators?

In my opinion, the three best 2D animation software tools on the market for all levels of experience are: #1 Adobe Animate, #2 Harmony Toon Boom and #3 Powtoon.

What Should I Be Looking for When Considering 2D Animation Software?

When looking for 2D animation software, you should consider the following features:

  • Ease of use: The software should be beginner-friendly so that you can create animations quickly without having to first go through a lengthy learning curve
  • Flexibility: The software should be flexible so that you can create animations of any length and style
  • Quality output: The software should produce broadcast quality animations from the get go
  • Affordability: The software should be affordable so that you can get the best value for your money

Wrapping Things Up

Whether you’re a hobby animator or a studio pro, the best 2D animation software programs are the ones that allow you to animate with a minimal amount of learning curve.

All programs on this list will save your time and energy while still producing high-quality animations!

Marcelo Headshot

About the author

Marcelo Beilin is a Digital Marketing Consultant and blogger who helps clients take their traffic and online revenue to the next level.

He also helps readers find the perfect tools to earn online income at BestTech2EarnOnline.com.

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