The Top 3 Free 2D Animation Software Tools in 2018

Certain styles of 3D animation have been around long enough that younger generations of animators and animation fans may not remember a time where they weren’t prevalent. But whether it’s a creative indie game, popular television show, or brief video clip just to bring laughs on social media, artists are still finding creative ways of using the gorgeous, emotion-filled style of 2D animation.

The price tag on some great pieces of software, however, can be daunting. The good news is there are plenty of great tools out there that don’t require a dime to use. If this sounds like what you’re after, look no further than our list of the top free 2D animation software tools in 2018.

Synfig Studio

If there’s one open source 2D animation software you’ll find on most other lists, it’s this one. Synfig Studio is one of the best for being easy to pick up while also allowing experienced animators to create high quality animations. It offers several layers of content, has an intuitive interface divided into four different windows, and is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. A notable feature is sound support that lets you sync sounds, music, and narration to your videos.

An interesting thing about Synfig Studio is that its developers offer two different versions. The Stable Version is just that — a simple, highly tested set of features you can rely on for your project. The other version, called Development Version, let’s you check out some experimental features that might not still be polished, yet allow you to do some neat things with your animations.

Main Features:

  • Vector Tweening: transform any vector shape into another
  • 50+ layers & several layer types to choose from
  • Full-featured bone system for cut-out animations and vector artwork
  • Advanced controls for experienced animators
  • Cross-platform: Windows, OS X, and Linux

synfig animation software

Pencil2D Animation

This free 2D animation software is recommended for beginners looking to get a better feel for animation and how it works. Pencil2D boasts a simple, clutter-free interface that makes it easy to create basic graphics and drawings as well as complete animations. This program is compatible with three major operating systems (Windows, OS X, and Linux) and lets you use both vector and bitmap graphics.

The ability to quickly switch between vector and raster workflows means nothing can slow you down whether you’re using ink, paint, or sketching. And if you’re ever stumped or want to learn more about certain features, you can either check out valuable docs or ask the community forum or social media pages.

Main Features:

  • Simple, easy-to-use interface design
  • Can switch between vector and raster workflows
  • Active community sites to get help and ask questions
  • Cross-platform: Windows, OS X, and Linux


Opentoonz is the free alternative to Toonz, an advanced 2D animation software used by some of the top film and game creators in their industries. How can you not get excited at the thought of using the same tools as the likes of legendary Japanese animators Studio Ghibli or the creators Futurama and SpongeBob SquarePants? Although you won’t get all the features of Toonz Premium, the free Opentoonz version still provides an impressive number of features and tools.

With the help of a plug-in effect SDK, users can seamlessly swap picture styles and also apply powerful effects such as Affected Incident Light and Wavy Distortion. The inclusion of Studio Gibhli’s GTS scanning tools provides four types of scanning: colored, black/white, and with or without binarization. Opentoonz is also frequently improved based on the opinions of production professionals, which helps make it an amazing tool for 2D animation pros and newcomers alike.

Main Features:

  • Users can modify source code
  • Frequent updates and improvements
  • Used by top animators in the business
  • A host of features and helpful manuals

opentoonz animation software


Don’t let money be the reason why your exciting ideas will never leave your mind or sketchbook. No matter where you are in terms of experience, the top free 2D animation software tools listed above can inspire you to finally turn your visions into visuals, ones you can be proud of and that others can enjoy.

Interested in researching other free 2D animation software tools? Here’s some Honorable Mentions:


  • PowToon
  • Animation Paper
  • Anime Studio

5 Classic Video Games That Changed Everything: From Mario to WoW

Grand Theft Auto 3 cast

Compared to the history of film and television, video games are still pretty much in their infancy. One can also argue that games are advancing much faster than either of the two thanks to better tech and new ideas. Twenty years ago we were all playing 32-bit titles but can now jump into a massively multiplayer online world with hundreds, if not thousands of others.

Although games today blow yesterday’s classics away in terms of polygon count and download sizes, some of the best our industry has to show are from way back when. It’s thanks to more than nostalgia that veteran designers frequently recommend up-and-comers to check out the games that changed everything. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Super Mario Bros. (1985) – Fun For All

To a Minecraft and Call of Duty kid of today, it may be impossible to believe that Super Mario Bros. was a breakthrough in its time. Not only did it serve as the birth of Nintendo’s biggest mascot but it also single-handedly helped save the video game market after its infamous crash. Three decades and more than half a billion game sales later, the Mario franchise continues playing a large role in the industry.

So what was it about Super Mario Bros. that convinced people to once again spend their hard-earned cash on video games? Accessible gameplay. To this day, anyone can pick up Super Mario Bros. and immediately start hopping on Goombas, entering pipes, and making their way to the flag at the end. Hand a non-gamer an Xbox One or PS4 controller and a copy of any big-budget title today and you’ll see them stare down in confusion.

2. World of Warcraft (2004) – Making Friends

Before Blizzard unleashed arguably the most influential MMO of all time, people did have online games to get lost in. Before 2001 there were titles like EverQuest and Lineage as well as RuneScape, Dark Age of Camelot, and more. If you wanted to hop into a big world and quest with other players from across the globe, you had a number of choices.

World of Warcraft screenshot

Then World of Warcraft arrived to nearly wipe out all the competition. There are many reasons why, including great gameplay, cinematics, and graphics. But the one reason numbers only continued growing was due to its social elements. Whether it was raiding, questing, or just hanging out in a main city and listening to nonsense on trade chat, Blizzard’s world made you feel connected with other players.

3. Grand Theft Auto III (2001) – Freedom

Today, gamers know what to expect from a Grand Theft Auto game. That still didn’t stop the fifth entry in the series from leaving everyone who played it stunned. With its improved gunplay, expansive world, and three characters to switch between, it’s no surprise that GTA V ended up being one of the most successful games of all time.

More than a decade earlier, the first 3D entry in the series was released to the same applause. Grand Theft Auto III gave players freedom unlike any other game in that time. If you didn’t want to do the main storyline, you could drive around wreaking havoc by stealing cars, fighting random people, and running from the law. More importantly, all those extra things to do were fun.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) – Captivating World

Plenty of great games had released before 1988 that showed us what 3D could do. Super Mario 64, Spyro, Resident Evil, and Tomb Raider are few of the many trailblazing titles that made us forget about our beloved 2D adventures for a while. Eventually we were introduced to a Hyrule that felt alive and expansive.

Link from Ocarina of Time

Ocarina of Time’s world was a sight to behold back in the day, and even now if you can forgive the outdated visuals. Every area of the game feels like it’s part of a living world, complete with beings that are still going about their business after you leave. If you’re looking to create a game with a world that invites players

5. Wolfenstein 3D (1992) – We Like Shooting Things

The first-person shooter genre is hands-down one of the most popular today. Thanks to franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, and many more we could mention, FPS titles have been raking in the dough for developers and publishers for many years now. The ability to play with people from all over the globe thanks to better tech has helped significantly

Of course, it all started with a little game called Wolfenstein 3D. The PC game by id Software introduced us to gameplay elements we still see today—health packs, holding more than one weapon, and more. Although the visuals haven’t really stood the test of time, it’s still a great game to pick up if you want to see where the genre was born.