This book provides a comprehensive overview of the best open source software (OSS) applications used in the animation industry. All of the material discussed in this book is freely available to use, modify, distribute and even sell as you wish. In this book you will find information on how to use libraries such as Open Frameworks, as well as tips on how to work directly with code such as that found in the Blender environment.
Whether you’re a student working on a thesis, a professional animator, or entrepreneur looking to start your own business, download free and open source software animation tools to create the best possible work.
Opentoonz is one of the best free animation software for beginners. It helps coming animators to create beautiful 2D animations and sketches. It also provides many other plugins for to apply different effects such as SDK that allow animators to completely alter animations, tweak color, distortion and more. It is open source and free to download used for both small projects and commercial films. Opentoonz is also compatible with different operating systems including Windows and Mac OS, system requirements are mentioned below. Following are some standout features of OpenToonz:
- Create animations with multiple effects
- Allows you to change the incident light on your animations
- Create a wavy distortion animation for a more detailed 2D animation
- It allows you to create new function to meet the on-site demands of any commercial project.
Blender is so good, so good to the level that people have been wondering how can it be open source and free? And the first one that comes to mind when talking about open source 3D modeling tools.
It is a fully-fledged 3D modeling and animation software that supports almost anything any animator can think of:
- Texture mapping.
- Raster graphics editing and creation.
- Rigging and skinning of objects.
- Fluid and smoke control systems already built-in.
- Particle simulation and control.
- Visual effects composition.
- Objects sculpting from defined materials.
- Rendering in different supported engines.
- Motion graphics capture and creation.
For rendering, Blender supports NVIDIA CUDA technology for NVIDIA graphics cards, and supports OpenCL rendering for Intel IRS and AMD graphics cards. Version 3.0 of the software is expected to land soon with tons of new improvement.
Blender was released back in 1994, making it one of the oldest open source software available in the world. It is licensed under the GPL license, and written in C, C++ and Python programming language.
Synfig is one of the most famous open source 2D animation software out there. It’s licensed under the GPL license and works on all the three major operating systems (Window, macOS and Linux). Written in C++.
Among Synfig features we can notably see:
- Vector Inbetweening, which would save the animator a lot of time and work on switching the movement/motion between sequential frames.
- Support of up to +50 layers objects.
- A bones system to simulate the human motion, and control the body’s parts movements accordingly.
Synfig uses its own .SIF/SIFZ/SIFG formats for the data files it produces, and supports rendering the output in AVI, MPEG, GIF, Flash and many other formats. It also supports importing Inkscape’s SVG files so that you can use them in your work. Synfig supports gradients, shadows and real-time effects.
Synfig provides a lot of documents about how to use the software on their official website.
Platforms: Windows, Linux
K-3D is a free 3D animation software specializing in polygonal modeling, an approach to digital graphics that represents and approximates object surfaces using polygons. Designed for artists, the software combines plugins with a visualization pipeline architecture — it adapts to the look and feel of the tools you integrate it with.
Get started with their Wiki tutorials, showing you how to master features like texturing, shadows, and symmetric modeling.
One of its best features? Easy undo/redo functionality, so you can quickly fix a mistake. Most programs only offer the option to undo an action.
With both procedural and parametric workflows, you can make adjustments and see the change immediately. A node-based visualization pipeline means editors can create connections and combinations for different elements within the video. You can work on one side of a model and mirror the other side to see what it looks like welded together.
K-3D is an advanced tool for true creatives.
TubiTube Desk doesn’t focus on being a professional 2D animation program, but instead, it’s targeting children, hobbyists and amateurs.
Its user interface is quite simple, and the program itself only offers the basic features of any 2D animation program, such as the painting/drawing tools, support for importing vector/image files in many formats from other programs, support for rendering the output work in AVI, MPEG and SWF formats, and manual tweeing, scaling, rotation and opacity.
The program is released under the GPL license, and can be downloaded along its source code from SourceForge. It works on Windows, macOS and Linux.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux
Pencil2D is a simple animation software you can use to create hand-drawn 2D videos. The open-source software is free for both personal and commercial use, so you can use it just for fun or to create videos to promote your products.
The interface is simple and easy to use. That, along with tons of tutorials on the website and forums you can join, makes it a great option to start with.
- Image and audio import
- Switch between raster and vector workflows so you can sketch, ink, and paint
- Adjust frame rate
- Add distortion and lighting effects
- Onion skinning
- Toolbar customizations
- Pressure sensitivity
- Multiple export formats
Plastic Animation Paper
Platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux
Plastic Animation Paper (PAP) is a free animation software for PC, Mac, and Linux. Though its interface is outdated, the software is completely free to download and use. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?
With PAP, you can create hand-drawn 2D animations, while seeing your edits in real time. The editing experience itself can be clunky, but it’s easy for beginners to learn and become familiar with. It’s a sufficient tool for basic animated videos.
Feature highlights include basic drawing tools, zoom, rotation, cutouts, layers, and more.
Soon, PAP’s creator will release a new, more advanced program for $79, Animation Paper.
Best suited for skilled animators, Animation Paper will help animators create 2D graphics from hand-drawn illustrations, along with a long list of features:
- Small and large format frames
- Real-time, smooth rotation and zoom, along with multiple options for flipping
- Advanced and customizable onion skinning
- Layers and lasso
- High-quality lines and stabilization
- Coloring and paint
- Real-time full frame reference on a second monitor for quick editing
The animation industry is booming, and with so much more accessible software it’s no wonder. Filmmakers and animators are taking to DIY methods to get their movies made and now some of the most affordable 3D graphics software is available FREE!