Animations industry has come a long way in the last few decades. It has moved from handwritten drawings to CGI or Computer Generated Imagery. While one might argue that Animation has become easier with the advent of computer graphics, I beg to differ. It is true that we have a plethora of tools at our disposal for creating class-leading animations but the intricacies associated with the same has only increased exponential.
The amination industry is also closely associated with the gaming industry. With the rise of genres like Indie games the need for animators will only increase in the near future. If you are planning to try your hands at Animations then you have landed at the perfect place. In this segment let us talk about Free and Paid Windows Animation tools,
Best 3D Animation Software for Windows
Aurora 3D Animation Maker
Aurora 3D Animation Maker is one of the popular 3D animation tools for Windows users. It offers an exhaustive set of features to develop great animations for your movies. The interface is intuitive and is pretty straightforward as well. One needs to check out the uber-cool after effects and can also add their own logo and watermark to the images. Users get to micromanage with the help of features like duration and the playback rate. Other interesting effects include fireworks, snowfall, flames and also movements like bounce and twist.
Most importantly Aurora 3D Animation Software will allow users to convert tect into a 3D animation and this is something that will be extremely useful in a lot of scenarios. Needless to say, the program also supports a ton of file formats including GIF. One can also use the Aurora 3D Animation Maker for creating 3D video titles and texts as well.
Price- Free Trial | Download Link
If you are a Professional Animator or considering to train for being one than the Autodesk Maya makes a lot of sense. I personally feel the software is slightly complicated but at the same time, it also offers a good balance of features. Autodesk Maya is a sought-after software program for modelling, animations and also 3D renderings.
Autodesk Maya lets you create animations with instanced objects and will also allow the users to make edits to a high-level animation. The software ensures that all the edits made to the high-level animations are non-destructive in nature. Yet another mention worthy feature is the speed enhancement. With this feature, your scenes will work much faster and you can also create animations like ocean surfaces with waves. Autodesk Maya allows users to generate a template for the setup and will also let you give final touches to the animations without any hassles.
That apart the Autodesk Maya is also used by Engineers for 3D modelling or even by Interior Designers. Parts like automobile interiors and even smaller elements like door handles are modelled by using Autodesk Maya.
Price-Free Trial (30-days) | Download link
Well, Blender has to figure out in any list for the best Windows Animation software. It is already being used by thousands of creators worldwide. The best part of it all is that Blender is free and open source 3D animation software for Windows. I would recommend VFX experts, animators, game artists, studio artists, renderers and others to try out the Blender. It offers some amazing tools for lighting, animation and also a handful of post-processing options. Thanks to the open source nature anyone can make small changes and also add new features. The cross-platform interoperability deserves a mention as well.
Price-Free/Open source | Download Link
Not all of us prefer Animation Software that requires a lot of space on our hard drive and will potentially slow down the PC. This is especially true if you are using an entry-level or even a mid-range PC for animations. In times like this, you can always take help from fully-functional cloud-based software which will help you with 3D animation, modelling and rendering as well. clara.io is one such Animation tool that runs completely on cloud and doesn’t require any browser plugins to run. Clara.io offers a comprehensive set of tools including the ones required for polygonal modelling and skeletal animation. Clara allows simultaneous editing by multiple users, a feature that comes in handy for collaboration.
Other mention-worthy features include mesh instruments, sub-object editing, subdivision surfaces and operators. clara.io also scores some brownie points when it comes to platform support. The tool also allows users to import files from other formats like Blender, Babylons, STL, FBX and more. The tool is available across different browsers including Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari. Clara lets you share your work with the help of galleries alongside interactive tools built with the help of jQuery.
Price- Free | Download
Best 2D Animation Software for Windows
Plastic Animation Paper
If you are someone looking out for a simple to use yet powerful 2D tool then the Plastic Animation Paper might just fit the bill. The freeware lets you convert your ideas into cartoons and drawings. I personally find the Plastic Animation Paper a compelling choice for those of us wanting a tool to capture our imagination in a lucid manner. Most of us use a pencil and a pad to jot down our mental image, however, with this tool you can do so directly on a computer.
The software is further enhanced by an auto-suggest feature that helps users find their way across the various tools and functions. Other key features include a sketching space, customisable frame speed, zoom in and out, add audio, adding color to the sketches. The app is available on Mac OS X, iOS and Windows PC as a free download. Additionally, the Plastic Animation Paper will also let users save the finished projects in various formats like PNG, AVI, GOF and others.
Price-Free | Download Link
Stykz is yet another free 2D animation tool for Windows (also Linux and Mac.) Thankfully the full version of Stykz is completely free and for a tool that is free the Stykz does offer some interesting features. The Stykz is a quintessential tool that will help you sketch the characters and the landscape before actually moving on the next steps. The user interface is user-friendly and also intuitive at its best.
The main highlight of this software is that it allows you to animate using stick figures. New frames can be created easily and one can also make use of the Frames palette. With the help of Onionskins, you can see what was there in the previous frame and accordingly adjust your current frame. Since the files can be saved in .stk format it can be used in other tools as well. Just to reiterate, the Stykz is a completely free software with no hidden charges whatsoever.
Price-Free | Download Link
Unlike 3D animations, in 2D animations, a lot of emphases is laid on the initial drawings. The Pencil2D makes use of a bitmap/vector in order to create 2D graphics and animations. The software is free of cost and offers some rudimentary features for 2D animations. Before we proceed it’s worth noting that the Pencil 2D doesn’t offer high-end features but instead it focusses on getting your drawings done in a most comprehensive manner.
The Pencil 2D offers an autosave feature that will save your work at regular intervals while the tool will also allow you to copy content from one frame and paste it into another. Additionally, users will also be able to add keyboard shortcuts.
Price Free | Download Link