Animation has always been impressive. Even amongst illustrators and designers, creating moving images is an uncommon skill. Yet, learning how to animate can be an arduous task, especially for those who try to jump into the medium with complex software like Autodesk or Adobe After Effects. Fortunately, as the demand for simple, fast, high-quality animation increases, tools to help designers pick up the skill are becoming more plentiful. Whether you need a simple moving graphic for your business or you are taking the first steps toward your animation magnum opus, here are five tools beginners can use to get animating.

1. Animatron

The best known animation software is expensive ― in the thousand-dollar range ― and as explained before, it can take months to become competent enough with those programs to produce a simple moving clip. Meanwhile, Animatron is a free web app you can use to make short animations right now. Accessible online through your browser, Animatron is available wherever you are without any time-consuming file sharing, which makes collaboration even easier. The interface is incredibly intuitive, and the tool already contains a wide array of objects and sounds useful in creating short videos for websites.

Though Animatron doesn’t offer nearly as many options as more complicated professional software, it is a fast, easy online animation maker equally good for novice animators looking to experiment with the medium and businesses looking for a quick fix.

2. Apple Motion

Macs are computers for artists, and animators are no exception. Unfortunately, though the MacBook Pro comes fully loaded with apps like GarageBand and iMovie for other creative types, no Apple devices include any animation software. Still, Apple Motion is a useful little tool available for download at the reasonable price of $49.99. In just minutes, you can create a simple animation using the app’s features, which include motion tracking, 3-D compositing, and vector painting.

Apple Motion is marketed to editors as a tool for titles and transition effects, but beginning animators can learn quite a bit by tinkering with this program. At the very least, this animation software is an invaluable companion to other movie making apps, like iMove and Final Cut Pro.

3. Wideo

Wideo specifically targets marketers and educators who require the simplest animations to make their messages pop. Like Animatron, Wideo is a free animation tool available online, but this service requires registration ― which maddeningly delays the process of creation. The pre-generated templates do make animation fast and simple, especially for animators with minimal needs. Yet, customization is limited, which means animators looking for a stepping stone into more complex software should probably look elsewhere.

Ultimately, Wideo is a new web tool that one-time animators will find briefly useful. Though it is definitely possible to create a polished animation from this app, the incomplete options make learning real animation impossible. Thus, if your needs are plentiful and complicated, you should try out a different animation tool on this list.

4. Creatoon

Another free animation app, Creatoon is an excellent teaching tool for ― you guessed it ― cartoons. Specifically for 2-D animation, Creatoon has particularly good training videos on translation tools and key framing; plus, it includes valuable features like art vectoring and voice synchronization. If you are an illustrator interested in seeing your characters come to life, you might find some fun with this app.

Expert animators complain about a few flaws in this freeware. Notably, the software does not include sound, which means you have to mix your sounds in another program and import it into Creatoon. Additionally, download and upload times tend to lag, which is frustrating to animators eager to see their finished products. Still, Creatoon is a useful beginner’s tool ― if only for the integrated tutorials.

5. Poser

Animating in three dimensions is quickly becoming de-rigueur, but, as you might expect, creating and manipulating 3-D objects is even more complicated than doing the same in 2-D. Enter: Poser. This software removes all the tiresome, time-consuming steps require to produce 3-D scenes, characters, props, and more, so all you have to do is animate. The program includes thousands of pre-generated people, objects, and backgrounds you can use in your animated clips, which is incredibly useful to the animator on a deadline ― or the animator looking to get a feel for 3-D.

Poser is rather intuitive, but it does provide a handful of tutorials to help you learn the basics of animating in 3-D. The newest professional editions cost several hundred dollars, but if you are willing to settle for an older version, you don’t have to spend more than about $70.

About the author

Vlad Georgescu

I'm a graphic designer/web developer from Romania and I'm the founder and co-owner of icanbecreative.

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