The 18 best animation apps for beginners in 2023

Looking to get started with animation? Look no further. Here are 18 apps for animation ideal for anyone getting started in 2023 – for 2D & 3D alike.

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Animations on your website grab viewers’ attention, providing creators and entrepreneurs the artistic means and freedom to further connect with and expand their audience.

Animations have become ubiquitous in our online world, and rightfully so. The creative, playful nature that is animation almost forces us to think outside of the box. There are no bounds! And in an oversaturated digital marketplace, this is a creator’s dream. Heck, it’s probably what brought you here.

Lucky for all of us online creators, getting into animation couldn’t be easier in 2023. With the plethora of animating apps on the market, choosing the right animation software that’s best for you is the ‘hard part.’

Whether you’re the ultimate beginner, looking to dive deep into the uncharted worlds of animation, or the curious novice looking for simple, yet unique ways to sprinkle new and imaginative effects on your online content, below are 18 of the best apps for animation in 2023.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s address the more pressing question: How do I choose the best animating app for me and my needs?

How to choose your animation app

Pricing. A lot of these animating apps can be expensive, especially if you’re a one-person operation. That said, the first place to begin is with what you want to create, as you don’t need fancy animation software if all you want to do is create infographics.

Ease of use. You should also consider how much time you want to spend learning a program. Many animation apps are notorious for their steep learning curves. However, that doesn’t mean you should write off more complex software. It’s a factor you should weigh with the cost to make sure you’re getting the most out of the animation app and the best return on investment.

In short, match your animation app to both your skill set and time commitment to learning a new program.

Customer support. Further, we suggest checking out your avenues for getting help, whether there’s an active community or one that provides tech support. Make sure to check when they are available. We prefer animating apps with live chat since you can get a transcript of the conversation. 

Other things to consider include:

  • 2D versus 3D, or both
  • Social media integration
  • User interface and customization options
  • Media library

A quick note about using animations on your website: Be sure to use the animation section of our accessibility checklist so everyone can have a great experience on your site.

18 great animation apps for beginners (free & paid)

1. Cinema 4D (paid)

Cinema 4D is a powerful, well-made 3D animation app that gives users a plethora of tools for creating a broad spectrum of professional projects. Beginners can get up and running quickly on this easy-to-use platform. Customer support is outstanding, with tutorials and weekly webinars to help users explore its many options.

Cinema 4D’s list of features is staggering, especially the built-in Adobe integration. You need a powerful machine to run this program, with the RAM and other hardware to match. You can create motion graphics, develop realistic artificial reality games, and do procedural modeling. As you may expect, this software isn’t cheap at $59.91 a month, billed annually.

Platforms: Windows, Mac


  • Stellar customer support
  • Powerful toolset
  • Adobe product integration


  • Advanced features unnecessary for simple projects
  • Pricey
  • Resource heavy

2. Adobe Animate (paid)

Adobe Animate focuses on the 2D end of things, making it easier to use than other apps for animation. Its feature set is useful for marketers who want to create compelling ads and infographics. You can create frame-by-frame animations to add some life to games or banner ads. 

Adobe Animate offers several export options, including SVG and HTML5 Canvas. It also supports TV and mobile applications.

Another great feature is being able to edit with or without using code, making it user-friendly for beginners. You can get Adobe Animate as part of the company’s Creative Cloud subscription or use it on its own. The free trial allows you to get started right away and see if the animating app is right for you and your skill set. It’s a worthwhile investment for business owners wanting to delve into animation.

Platforms: Windows, Mac


  • Import options
  • Integration with Adobe Creative Cloud subscription
  • Useful for marketing
  • Excellent export options


  • Not for advanced users
  • Dated technology

3. Adobe After Effects (paid)

Adobe After Effects is the answer for creating 3D animation and motion design. There’s no doubt that it’s a powerful program. It can accomplish simple tasks, such as rotating text, as well as advanced jobs, like full-blown post-production editing. The interface is user-friendly, although it has a high learning curve to make full use of its features. You can also install plugins for specialized tasks, albeit at a cost.

Adobe After Effects integrates well with the company’s suite of software packages and some third-party programs, such as Cinema 4D. You can subscribe to just this animation app or all the Creative Cloud apps. Subscribing to Creative Cloud will give access to more robust features. Unfortunately, that may put it out of the budget for individuals and small businesses.

Platforms: Windows, Mac


  • Excellent set of preloaded effects, Adobe Fonts, and presets
  • Tons of tutorials available
  • Plugin integration
  • Widely used in the industry
  • Animated text feature
  • Virtual reality capability


  • Only a seven-day free trial
  • Steep learning curve
  • Uses a lot of computer resources

4. LottieFiles (free & paid)

LottieFiles simplifies motion design, allowing you to create scalable animations for everything from pitch decks to websites. And with the Webflow Lottie integration, you can select from more than 50,000 free animations directly in the Designer — letting you create custom animations and set up triggers like a click, scroll, or hover that activate your designs. 

LottieFiles is a great animation app for web design as their animations are much smaller than gifs, rest assured they won’t slow down your page load speeds. Plus, they are limitlessly scalable, so you can keep your designs responsive regardless of screen size. 

Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android


  • Integration with Webflow
  • 50,000+ free animations
  • No coding skills required 
  • Mobile app
  • Free plan option


  • Free plan only includes 1 private project and limited shareable links
  • Features like customization, unlimited projects, version history, and collaboration only available on paid plans

5. SideFX Houdini (free & paid)

SideFX Houdini is an excellent choice for advanced productions, including virtual reality, motion graphics, and even film. In fact, professional animators used it during the production of Frozen. Like similar animating apps and software programs, SideFX comes with a steep learning curve. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of tutorials to help you get over the hump. It has many automated functions that make it more user-friendly.

Houdini’s strength lies in its node-based workflow, which allows you to create actions that you can reuse and reorder easily. However, it is technical software. A coding background is helpful but not imperative. If you take the time to learn it, you’ll reap the rewards of creating film-quality visual effects and rendering capabilities. The platform offers 6 subscription tiers, including a free option for hobbyists.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Node-based workflow
  • Excellent real-time animation
  • Free for noncommercial use
  • Effect-specific tutorials available
  • Mantra inbuilt renderer
  • Texturing capability
  • Drag-and-drop editing


  • High learning curve
  • Not for casual users wanting a graphic design program
  • Expensive subscription price

6. Blender (free)

Despite the fact that Blender is a free animation app, you can do a lot with this 3D animation tool. Its features include visual effects, digital sculpting, video editing, and motion tracking. While tutorials are available, you may find them limited for some tasks. However, it has an active community, with frequent updates on the software, which are constantly improving its performance. The documentation is also well done.

Blender supports a wide range of graphic formats, making it user-friendly. It also has an integrated 3D game engine if you want to take your skills to the next level. And like Houdini, the film industry has used it, too. It does take some time to become proficient in the program, but at least it won’t cost you anything to try. It gives you everything you need for creation — including modeling, simulations, and post-production.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Free, open-source program
  • Excellent feature set
  • Outstanding community support
  • Audio capture capability
  • Portable USB version available
  • Keyboard shortcuts


  • Confusing interface, especially for beginners
  • Resource hog
  • 3D videos more difficult to create

7. Pencil2D (free)

Pencil2D is another free, open-source app for animation, perfect for those getting started with 2D animation. It works with both raster and vector workflows, giving you optimal flexibility. It has a decent feature set, especially when you consider that it doesn’t cost anything. Top features include a pixel tracker, sound scrubbing, and movie import. Its community is also active, offering lots of support.

Pencil2D’s value lies in its user-friendly interface and intuitive design. That makes it an excellent choice for beginners who want a basic program for the job. The software has a dedicated group of contributors who continually improve the software and add new features. The one downside is ongoing security protocol issues with the operating systems themselves that they’ll hopefully solve soon.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Free, open-source program
  • Community support
  • Powerful 2D animation tools
  • Drag-and-drop editing
  • Lightweight
  • User-friendly
  • Raster and vector graphic support


  • Not robust enough for advanced users
  • Some permission issues with operating systems
  • Not widely used in the industry

8. ​Animaker (paid)

Animaker differs from the other apps for animation we’ve reviewed because it’s web-based with a subscription model. Its primary function is making videos and animated GIFs using an HTML5 engine. That’s an excellent option if you don’t want to — or can’t — download software on your computer. The animation app makes it easy for beginners, with templates, auto lip-sync, and a library of facial expressions.

It doesn’t stop there. The site also has an extensive image library with music and sound effects to create high-quality videos. You can even do voiceovers with your choice of voice. Animaker offers 5 pricing tiers, including a free option with 5 free downloads. Unfortunately, the 5-download limit includes watermarks. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent way to try out Animaker without fronting any cash or credit card info.

Platforms: Web-based


  • Web-based
  • Audio capture
  • Extensive template and image library
  • Character builder interface with auto lip-sync
  • Sound effects and royalty-free music tracks
  • Collaboration tools
  • Social media integration


  • Watermarks with free plan downloads
  • Internet connection required
  • Video upload unavailable

9. OpenToonz (free)

OpenToonz is another free, open-source 2D computer-based animation app. It has a decent feature lineup that includes old-school integrations as well as newer bells and whistles. However, the interface is dated and not intuitive. That makes it tough to learn, considering the lack of support and tutorials. Fortunately, you can find help from fellow users on YouTube.

OpenToonz works well for basic tasks, although you may have some trouble finding the tools you need since it’s not obvious where they’re hidden. It’s a solid tool for brainstorming and drafting 2D animation before launching your work into 3D. While it may not be the best tool available due to its dated, unintuitive interface, you can’t beat the price.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Free, open-source
  • Smooth operation
  • Raster and vector image support
  • Excellent for basic 2D animation
  • Scan capability


  • Not intuitive 
  • Limited support
  • Limited drawing tools
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10. Autodesk Maya 3D Animation (paid)

Many consider Autodesk Maya to be the industry standard. After all, what else can you say about a company that also created AutoCAD? It happens to be the software of choice for Disney. Enough said. Autodesk Maya is a complete 3D production package that you can customize with plugins and scripts to make it more user-friendly.

The development of Autodesk Maya is geared toward the professional sector. It’s expensive, putting it out of the range for small businesses. However, the company offers three-year licenses, which can save you some cash if you like using this software. There’s no doubt that it’s powerful and can create a broad spectrum of animations. However, it misses the mark on basic features like a better viewport.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Decent integration with other software
  • Node-based workflow
  • Powerful rendering engine
  • Excellent for complex geometry
  • Free and paid plugins for customization
  • Free trial available


  • Expensive
  • No texture feature

11. Powtoon (free & paid)

Powtoon is another web-based animation app offering free and premium plans for its video animation software. It’s an intuitive and user-friendly option for individuals and small businesses new to creating animated videos. The site has an extensive library to get you started, although the better stuff comes with paid subscriptions. Powtoon is also easy to customize to make it even simpler to use.

Powtoon has 4 price tiers in its subscription model and offers competitive pricing for educational and business plans. The free version is generous with its storage capacity and recordings. However, the 3-minute HD videos allowed per month are branded, which isn’t surprising. On the positive side, it’s easy to share your work through YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and PDF export functionality.

Platform: Web-based


  • Extensive library of music, characters, and templates
  • Decent features, even on the free plan
  • Easy to learn
  • Node-based editor
  • Export to social media
  • Collaboration tools


  • Branding on the free plan
  • Lack of collaboration features
  • Limited library options with free plan

12. Stykz (free)

Stykz stands out in several ways — for one, it’s free. It is a 2D animation app that makes it easy to bring stick figures to life. It’s a frame-based software to give you optimal control over your work using onion skins to make sure everything works seamlessly. Stykz is not a hard program to grasp once you get the hang of it. Plus, it has a decent knowledge base to use as a guide.

On the downside, Stykz has been discontinued by the developers. That makes its best use as a way to learn animation basics before moving on to active software. However, it does appear to still run well, even on Windows 10 machines. That said, it has an old-school user interface that is dated (but still user-friendly).

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Simple to use
  • Freeware
  • Auto-save feature
  • Excellent help section


  • Not robust enough for advanced users
  • Discontinued

13. Adobe Character Animator (paid)

Adobe Character Animator is an animation and motion capture tool that is beginner-friendly and so much fun to use. Like other Adobe products, you can integrate other program exports into this platform. The software uses your mic and camera to animate the image you import into the program using your voice and facial expressions. It even has auto lip-sync.

Aspects of fine-tuning are more difficult to learn, including moving the limbs and other actions in your animations. It works best with tasks where voice is the star element. You can get this animation app as a standalone or with the Adobe Creative Cloud plan.

Platforms: Windows, Mac


  • No experience in animation necessary
  • Adobe software integration
  • Excellent performance and speed
  • Real-time animation


  • Limited motion capture
  • A high learning curve for other tools

14. Cartoon Animator 4 (paid)

Cartoon Animator 4 is a 2D animating app that uses motion capture to bring your creations to life! It operates on the same principle as Adobe Character Animator. The program has several features that make fine-tuning easier, including smart 1K motion editing and prop dynamics. It is easy to use out of the box, making it an excellent choice for beginners.

Cartoon Animator 4 integrates with Adobe Photoshop, allowing you to import PSD templates. Another outstanding feature is its 3D motions for 2D animations. It’s an effective way to make your work stand out from the crowd. The online community is active, so you can quickly find answers to your questions. The platform offers a free 30-day trial with all the features, with paid pro and pipeline editions.

Platforms: Windows, Mac


  • Adobe Photoshop integration
  • Excellent community support
  • Auto lip-sync
  • Free trial
  • Customizable templates


  • Lacking robust social media integration
  • So-so documentation
  • No drawing tools

15. Synfig (free)

Synfig is a free, open-source video app for animation. Considering its cost, Synfig has an impressive set of animation tools. It’s well-designed software that is easy to use for vector images, layers, and short videos. Its interface differs from many programs out there. Once you get used to its quirks, you won’t have any issues using it — there is an active community to help.

However, Synfig is still a work in progress. It’s resource heavy and tends to crash more often than we’d like. Nevertheless, it’s a good animation app to ‘get your feet wet,’ especially if you’ve worked with graphic design before. Synfig’s best use is for small projects that don’t require a lot of detail or extensive work. That makes it an excellent choice for small business owners.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Free, open-source
  • Online help available
  • Plugin support


  • Resource heavy
  • No auto-save feature

16. Moho Animation Software (paid)

Moho Animation Software has been around since 1982. It produces 2D animation using copy-and-paste functionality with its complex bone system. That means smooth motion without distortions. It does a great job of rendering realistic-looking animals with its full line of optimized drawing tools. It also has decent customization features for settings and brushes that we liked.

The company changed hands with the Moho 13, adding a lot of new functionality. It added wind and other automated dynamics, brought a 3D space and camera onboard, and made a giant leap forward with FBX support for Unity game developers. There are two versions of the animation app: Debut and Pro. The price difference between the two is considerable at $59.99 and $399.99 for one-time purchases, respectively.

Platforms: Windows, Mac


  • Helpful documentation
  • Realistic-looking animations
  • Plays nice with Adobe Photoshop integration
  • Automated dynamic elements
  • Value-priced for what it is


  • A steep learning curve, especially for the pro version
  • Best features in pro version only

17. FlipaClip (free)

FlipaClip is a free and easy-to-use 2-D animation app available on Android or iOS. Not only is this platform beginner friendly with great customer support, but it is also one of the top-rated cartoon animation apps for portable devices. 

However, FlipaClip does have its downsides. With the frame-by-frame app being fairly ‘new to the scene,’ the app does have its bugs here and there, including in-app ads that may pose a distraction for some users using the free version of the animating app. 

Nevertheless, those willing to pay the $29.99 annual or $5.99 monthly fee, will join a devoted, thriving online community of over 60 million lifetime users. 

Platforms: Android, iOS


  • Beginner friendly 
  • Great customer support
  • Easily share animations on platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and more


  • Has some bugs
  • In-app ads (free version)

18. SVGator (free & paid)

Last but not least is SVGator — the ‘ultimate SVG animation platform.’ This browser-based animation app allows users to animate SVG files without the need for code (specific use cases include logos, illustrations, icons, and more). 

Similar to LottieFiles, one of the best features of SVGator — apart from its no-code — is its interactivity. Users can create illustrations with triggers such as a click, scroll, or hover that ‘activate the animation.’ Further, like LottieFiles, users with Webflow can also animate directly in the Designer — see SVGator’s tutorial if you’re wanting to get started. 

With little to no learning curve and an intuitive keyframe-based interface, this 2-D SVG animation app is ideal for beginners looking for a no-code app that’s not only powerful but also user-friendly.

Platform: Web-based


  • Limited free plan available and lite plans starting at $12 per month
  • Browser-based with cloud rendering; no installation needed
  • Webflow integration for easy animating directly in the Designer


  • Not as capable as animating apps like Adobe After Effects

The best apps for animation 

Animations can help you reach and interact with visitors in new and exciting ways. They can be used to explain complex concepts right on your website.

For more design inspiration and insights, check out the Webflow blog or consider giving animation apps LottieFiles or SVGator a go in the Designer — with the above-mentioned Webflow integrations, you can start creating your next best animations in a matter of minutes. 


April 3, 2023



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