The Best 2D Animation Software of 2017

by CGAfrica in Articles,

on December 16th, 2017

These are the best 2D animation programs, taking into account user reviews and software features.

Toon Boom Harmony

Toon Boom’s animation software gives you a lot of control over your 2D animation projects. With the program, you can choose from five different animation techniques: traditional paper animation, digital animation, cut-out and puppet animation, rotoscoping, and stop-motion. You can also mix these together for some interesting effects.


  • Bitmap and vector tools for creating art
  • Create any style with advanced tools that
    speed up production
  • Combine 3D imported models with 2D for
    hybrid productions
  • Create multiplane scenes using Z-depth
  • Introduce occlusion and 3D camera moves
  • Animate in any style, apply effects and composite in 3D
  • Ink, paint, rig and animate
  • Compositing and effects
  • All the tools you need to create your entire project in one tool

Toon Boom Harmony is used by top studios all over the world, Harmony lets you work fast and animate in any style. Harmony has all the tools you need for traditional paperless, cut-out and hybrid animation productions.

Some artists believe the best way to use animation software is with a drawing tablet, and you can use one along with Toon Boom software to draw and color directly in the program. If you prefer, you can sketch right in this software using your computer mouse or import digital images and drawings. The program also comes with several special effects, including flames, rain, smoke and camera shake.

Toon Boom Harmony has many import and export options. You can upload your own paper drawings or digital images as more than 13 different file types. You can also export single cells and frames or whole projects in a variety of ways. These include exporting AVI video files for television playback and uploading directly to websites such as YouTube and Facebook.

The company provides many resources to teach you how to use the software, including a free Quick Start Tutorial and official training videos you can purchase at an additional cost. You can also access its user forum, knowledgebase and FAQs page, as well as a variety of manuals and tutorials. If you need additional help, customer support is available by phone or email.


Anime Studio

Smith Micro Software makes beginner and professional versions of its Anime Studio 2D animation software, Anime Studio Debut and Anime Studio Pro, to help you bring your imagination to life. Its programs have libraries of premade characters and assets you can use to quickly create and populate scenes. This cartoon maker software also includes a character wizard that uses preset character features you can mix and match and adjust.

In addition, both versions have tools you can use to draw your characters on your computer like freehand drawing tools, brushes and vector conversion so you can trace imported sketches. In addition, both versions are compatible with drawing tablets.

This program does not include any premade environmental effects such as rain, smoke, fire or explosions. You either have to create these effects yourself or purchase them from members of Anime Studio’s active user community.

The company’s programs allow you to import images in a wide variety of file types, including JPEG, PNG and BMP. When you are finished with your cartoons, you can export them as an AVI, QuickTime and Flash Movie files or upload them directly to your Facebook or YouTube account.

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DrawPlus by Serif is drawing, illustrating and 2D animation software that allows you to create animation masterpieces using a single program. This animation software is full of tools you can use to create high-quality backgrounds, scenery and characters. It includes drawing tools, complete with pencils, erasers, shapes and vector path pens. You can also scan your paper drawings and trace over them to convert them into vector graphics for coloring and animating.

A joint tool places movement points on your character's body so it moves naturally and smoothly. You can animate using individual frames or create animation paths with keyframes. In addition, the program supports onion skinning, which allows you to see the previous frame, your current frame and the following frame on top of each other to help you create smooth movement.



Dazzling colours

Colour is at the heart of your design, and Affinity Designer delivers in droves. With support for all major formats, ICC profiles and the latest wide gamut displays you know your designs will pop. And with silky smooth gradients which always update live on your page, the control you have is limitless.

Precise curves

The fundamentals of crafting curves are covered expertly with the precision-engineered pen tool − and in combination with intuitive modifiers it’s the workhorse of everything you create. Swapping to the node or live corner tool allows you to re-sculpt, hone and adjust to perfection.

Flawless geometry

It’s hard to describe the joy you will feel in using the fully customisable live shapes in Affinity Designer. Not only are they incredibly fluid to adapt, we’ve added automatic snapping points to ensure spot-on geometry with everything you do.

Brush stabilisation

An amazing addition, the rope and window stabilisers allow you to produce the smoothest, most accurate curves you ever thought possible – all using freehand pencil and brush tools.

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Digicel’s FlipBook 

Digicel’s FlipBook Digicel’s FlipBook cartoon maker software uses time-honored animation methods to create your animation masterpieces and is designed with the traditional animation artist in mind. It doesn’t have character libraries and templates like other digital 2D animation software, so you have to draw everything yourself. Still, FlipBook has the professional tools you need to create high-quality animations. This animation program provides one foreground layer and background layer and can hold up to 300 frames.

With FlipBook, you can use onion skinning, an animation technique that allows you to see the frame you are currently working over the previous and next frame. Seeing the position of your character in the previous frame helps you make movements natural and realistic. This software does not use a bone-rigging system, and there is no option to create animation paths.

Support is available but limited for this animation software. The program comes with a help file that walks you through the program’s tools and procedures. If you need additional help, the FlipBook homepage has a support section with an email address and a few video tutorials. You can also call customer support if you prefer to talk to a representative.



One of the biggest drawbacks to animation is the time it takes to create each individual drawing. With 2D animation software, you can reduce the amount of time you spend with each frame because the computer can automatically create the inbetweening of your characters and objects. The TAB by Digital Video is good 2D animation software that helps you streamline your artistic workflow with its intuitive drawing tools and flexible keyframe animation. The TAB series of 2D animation software includes Student, Standard, Pro, Manga and kids programs, so you have many choices to create your animations.

The TAB cartoon maker programs have drawing tools that make it possible for you to manipulate and adjust your artwork with ease. While you can draw using your mouse, this program supports the use of electronic drawing tablets. The TAB software senses the pressure from your pencil and translates it onto your screen. This sensitivity gives your digital strokes the same look as if you were drawing on a piece of paper.

There is next to no technical or customer support for this 2D animation software. There are a few video tutorials you can find on YouTube to learn about some of the basic functions and an email address you can use to contact the customer service department, but it does not guarantee feedback if you email it. In addition, it doesn’t have any support plans you can purchase. You can find user manuals under the press section of the manufacturer’s website; the manuals do give some insight into how to use the program, but it would be nice to have tutorials or a user forum to ask other animators specific questions.



CrazyTalk Animator

If you want to try your hand at creating an animated show but don't have the artistic skills to hand draw images, CrazyTalk Animator may be the solution for you. This 2D animation software by Reallusion has tools to take your animation project from the storyboard stage to a completed show. Everything starts with your character creation, and you can select from premade body parts to create the perfect characters for your show. You can also import vector graphics.

CrazyTalk Animator uses puppeteering to control the movement of your character's limbs and facial expressions. You can bring your character to life very quickly by selecting predetermined actions and expressions from the puppeteering panels. This can save you valuable time, especially if you are an animation beginner.

CrazyTalk Animator allows you to record audio through a microphone attached to your PC, or you can import your sound and dialogue files. Adjusting the volume and fading in or fading out are the only audio-editing options included with this animation software. You need another program to alter sound and dialogue if you want to edit beyond that.




Smith Micro Software's MotionArtist is designed with comic artists in mind, providing a way for them to add movement and sound to their creations. With this 2D animation software, you can import the characters and artwork you have created in other drawing programs and turn them into motion comics and movies.

MotionArtist has three workspace views, each with a different purpose and toolset. The Director View is the most commonly used workspace in the application, and it presents an overall view of your work. You can add panels in this view and arrange the layout of your page. You can also set motion paths and add stop points. Stop points are an essential part of your motion paths, as they give your viewers a chance to read your word balloons and admire your art.


Stopmotion Studio

Animation doesn't have to be confined to a sheet of paper or a computer screen. The stop-motion technique has been around since the early 1900s, and it is a fun way to bring objects to life. Stopmotion Studio is an easy-to-use 2D animation program that animates your photos and drawings as well as your actions figures and Lego creations.

Stop motion animation is a tried and true art form with film credits including older titles like “Star Wars” and “King Kong,” as well as modern shows such as “Robot Chicken,” “Wallace and Gromit” and “Coraline.” Using Stopmotion Studio, you can create your own shows and shorts by capturing sequential images with a web camera, digital video camera or DSLR camera.

This animation software uses frames on a storyboard to create your animation. When you use stop-motion animation, you create the illusion of movement by moving your object a little bit in each individual frame. When these pictures are played back in sequence, it looks like your object is moving.



Animation Workshop

Animation Workshop is 2D animation software with a niche focus on creating commercial advertisements such as animated web banners and buttons. Because it isn’t designed to animate stories, it does not have traditional animation features and tools to create cartoons or animate characters, you can use it to quickly create web graphics to grab the attention of your customers.

This animation maker has an easy learning curve, so you can successfully use it even if you aren’t tech savvy. The interface is straightforward, with templates for banner and buttons organized in easy-to-navigate menus. You can add or remove images, create text or backgrounds, and edit your animation frame by frame with this animation software.


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