Many times you’re able to download a free trial for an animation program. Fortunately some programmers out there realize that not everybody has piles of money to throw at their cartoon animation programs. The following software packages are completely free animation programs, so the size of your money pile should not matter. Some of these free animation programs are more complex than the others, so ease of use will vary.
If you’re interested in a more complete list you can find all animation programs here (free and not free).
If you can imagine the vector drawing attributes of an animation program like Flash combined with the bitmap drawing characteristics of Photoshop, you’d be close to Pencil, the first of our free animation programs. It’s a great starting software package, as the developers have done a great job paring it down to its most essential parts.
Synfig is an impressive animation program that is currently only available on the PC. It does a great job of creating camera and lighting effects. Synfig is well on its way towards establishing itself as solid software, not bad for a free animation program.
Let’s hope that some day they’re able to create a Mac version.
It would be great if this was also available for the Mac, but currently CreaToon is only for the PC. It uses a limited animation style, kind of like Toon Boom in that regard. Of particular interest is the ability to use bitmap images inside the animation program itself. The application could use a bit of polish, but it’s free so we’ll let such issues pass.