Best Animation Software 2017 – Top 10 Guide & Reviews

Animation is present in nearly every area of our lives today. From TV advertisements and comics, to television shows, videos, and games, animation is one of the key mediums artists use. But the days when animation was just for the professionals are over. If you are interested in creating animation at home, all you need is some time and the best animation software available to you today.

Equipment, Software, And Experience

Before you invest time and money into purchasing animation software, you want to make sure you have the right equipment and products for your needs. When beginning your search for the best animation software, consider the following:

  • Level of experience. Do you have a background in logo design or computer graphic design? Will you be able to understand the technical jargon of advanced programs, or are you a beginner with little to no training in art or graphics? While you can learn just about any program with enough time and patience, try to choose one that matches your skill level so you can produce quality animation in a reasonable time.
  • Purpose. How will you use your animation software? Will it be for casual use as a hobbyist, or will it be for professional use? If you are just a hobbyist, you may not need to purchase the best animation software with as many options as a professional who will need to meet the requirements of various jobs.
  • Animation style. Animation is a broad term and can refer to stop-motion, 2D and 3D animation software packages. Some programs will allow you to draw right in the program, and others only allow for imported images. Make sure you choose software that can create the type of animation you want to design.
  • Computer capabilities. When purchasing the best animation software, you want to make sure your computer has enough memory and power for the specifications of the software you choose. Make sure you also look at less obvious specifications, like whether or not the software is a CD or a digital download as many newer computers do not have optical drives.

Best Animation Software Top 10 Comparison Guide

PictureNamePriceRating (1-5)
PictureNamePriceRating (1-5)
1. Dragonframe 3 Stop Motion Software$$$4.9
2. Anime Studio Pro 11$$$4.7
3. MotionArtist$$4.6
4. Manga Studio 5$$4.5
5. VIDBOX Stopmotion Studio 4.0$$4.3
6. Smith Micro Software Inc. Poser Pro$$4.1
7. Adobe Photoshop Elements 14$$3.9
8. Crayola Color Alive Easy Animation Studio$3.7
9. Poser 11$$3.7
10. Cinema 4D R17 Prime Studio Commercial license$$$$3.5

Reviews of the Top Rated Animation Software

1. Dragonframe 3 Stop Motion Software

Dragonframe 3 stop motion software is a great investment for professionals and enthusiasts who already know the basics of stop motion animation. This software is one that major motion picture studios use, so it has a large variety of features and options to produce high quality animation at home.

Dragonframe 3 will work with Windows 7, 8.1, 10, Vista, and XP (32-bit) or Mac OS X 10.6.8 and newer. While this best animation software will support a large variety of DSLR cameras, it works best when paired with Canon and Nikon models. If you have other high quality DSLR cameras, such as the Panasonic Lumix GH2, you may notice that the pairing is not as intuitive and flawless.

The options for creating high quality stop motion animation are near limitless with Dragonframe 3, but a few of the features that set it apart from other software are the onion skin view, increment editor, and the Dragonframe Keypad Controller. When working on your animation, Dragonframe 3 gives you the option to use onion skin, a way to layer your previously shot frame with your current frame. When paired with the increment editor, which allows you to break up the path of a character over time, you can create a precise animation. The Dragonframe Keypad Controller is a special keypad included with your purchase that makes your work easier by providing shortcut keys to the most used features to help save you time from finding the tool with your mouse.

Dragonframe 3 is certainly not the best animation software for beginners or those only causally interested in animation. But, if you are a serious hobbyist or a professional with access to a good DSLR camera, Dragonframe 3 can help you create quality stop motion animation at home.

2. Anime Studio Pro 11

Anime Studio Pro 11 is professional level 2D animation software that you can use in your home. While there are many versions available, such as the more simplistic Anime Studio Debut, the Studio Pro 11 edition has the most features and options for your money.

Anime Studio software is best known for its bone-rigging system and Smart Bones options, tools that allow the animator to create in the efficient style of key-frame animation. In the Studio Pro 11 edition, the bone-rigging has been improved to allow for quicker and more complex animation, such as creating reflected images. Also, Studio Pro 11 now allows for traditional frame-by-frame animation in addition to key-frame animation, giving animators the best of both worlds. While frame-by-frame animation is certainly more time intensive to learn and use, Studio Pro 11 has included some features, such as onion skin tools like those included in Dragonframe 3, to make the process a bit easier. Finally, Studio Pro 11 has improved file integration with programs like Adobe Photoshop and Smith Micro’s Poser, making the software even more versatile.

While those just learning the basics of key-frame animation may opt for easier or less expensive software, the new and improved Anime Studio Pro 11 is a great purchase for dedicated hobbyists and professionals alike.

3. MotionArtist

If you are just stepping into the animation arena, you may want to consider Smith Micro’s Interactive Animation Software, MotionArtist. While MotionArtist will not give you as many options as more complex software like Toon Boom or Manga Studios, it is perfect for creators who are just learning about animation.

MotionArtist allows you to take already completed photographs and illustrations and add audio and visual effects. The software is easier to use than stop-motion, key-frame, or frame-by-frame animation because it works on animating entire images rather than each frame. MotionArtist uses a tool called Motion Assist to allow this easy animation. However, there is no option to create or draw your own images within the software, so if you do not already have a program that has these capabilities, you will be limited to what you can import. MotionArtist also allows you to link audio, video, images, and URLs to the created comics to make your animations interactive. Additionally, the interactive comics and animations you create within MotionArtist can be easily shared on the web via HTML5 publication.

MotionArtist is a good program for beginners who don’t need all of the bells and whistles, but just because it is meant for beginners does not mean there won’t be a learning curve. However, if you are willing to spend the time reading the owner’s manual and watching training videos online, even those with little design experience can create quick and creative interactive animations.

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