The journey to becoming an animator is a daunting one. It requires not only years of education and experience, but an undeterred dedication to refining your craft and being the best artists you can possibly be. People rarely fall into animation, and making it a career requires the willingness to continue learning new techniques, abilities, and computer programs to get the best out of your natural talent.
Software, however, can range widely in terms of usability and cost. There are plenty of capable animation programs out there (for modeling, drawings, rendering, and animating), but they often come with a rather hefty price tag. We’ve sifted through the internet and picked out a collection of great programs that are completely free. Familiarizing yourself with these programs could help you decide if animation is something you’re willing to devote your life to.
PAP is one of the best 2D animation tools around, regardless of price. The fact that it’s free to download is just a bonus. The program is easy to use and get started on, and is perfect for people who are looking to dip their toe in the world of animation and try things out for themselves. Animation can be completely foreign territory for novices, and PAP does a great job of walking users through the process of drawing, animating, and refining your finished product.
It only does everything. Blender is universally known as the best open-source all-in-one visualization program on the planet. If you’re looking to get into 3D rendering, Blender handles modeling, camera, lighting, rendering, and animating with relative ease. It might take you a bit to familiarize yourself with the robust set of tools Blender offers, but once you do you’ll have unlocked a powerful animation tool that doesn’t set you back a single penny. Do yourself one better by tapping into the loyal underground community that keeps making Blender better.
Bryce is a specially 3D modeling and animation program that has a focus on landscape, setting, and entourage visualization. Few programs on the market have such a narrow field of view, but it allows Bryce to give users tools tailor made for manipulating terrain and physics-based systems and scripts. For being free-to-play, it offers a large suite of tools that help artists animate sky, water, vegetation, and fog. It’s a great piece of supplemental software that does well to fill a gap in the available programs.
DAZ is a 3D modeling program that comes to play with a ready-to-use library of components that can be combined to quickly populate animation scenes. It features an NVIDIA rendering engine that has photorealistic capabilities - something unique and welcome from a free software download. With DAZ you’ll spend less time modeling and more time creating animations, which are time-consuming enough as it is. DAZ is great for a one-person operation trying to cut a few corners on their way to final production.
Clara.io is a web-based animation studio that presents an incredible array of tools for existing so off the grid. All you’ll need to get started is an internet connection and you’ll be modeling, animating, and rendering with a few clicks of the mouse. While not the most refined or professional tool on the market, Clara.io is perfect for anyone who isn’t ready to cannonball into the deep end of animation and visualization. Even with its low profile, there is a strong community of artists and animators who are more than willing to help people out who might be trying to find the right footing in the industry.
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So, if you’ve been thinking about a career in animation, you now have zero excuses for getting those balls rolling. Any one of these programs will, at the very least, test your willingness to put in the time to become a professional animator. Time to start turning out the frames.