2d Animation Software

The term "2d animation" refers to hand drawn, classic animation.
The programs listed below are an extension of the light-table-and-pencil world.

At the end of this page you will find a list of what to expect from a 2d animation software, and also what hardware and complementary programs you might need.

If you need a Flash style, vector based animation software - click here.
You can, of course, draw your animation frame by frame in a Vector-Based program.
Simon's cat, for example, is drawn this way.

List of Totally Free Classic Animation Software



Monkeyjam free animation software

A simple and very friendly 2d animation software

  • Totally free
  • PC only


  • Pentium III or higher (seriously people?? Pentium?!)
  • Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7
  • DirectX 8 or higher

Read The Flying Animator's Software Review



Pencil animation software

Free and open-source

Mac and Linux oriented. PC has some issues:  
"At the moment the Windows version can only export frames and Flash files".

Plastic animation paper


  • Completely free at this point
  • Windows only

Now Look at Some Heavier Canons -
Not Free, But Not Expensive:

DigiCel FlipBook


digicell screen shot

Built to accommodate professional classic animators.

2d Animation Software with Trial Versions



An amazing family of programs for making animation, for animators of all levels.
They offer software for:

  • Advanced animators and a complete studio pipeline
  • Freelance, "solo" animators
  • Beginners and kids of all ages
  • Storyboard Software
  • Animate Garfield the Cat and friends - great fun!
  • Free trial downloads
  • PC and Mac compatible



For exciting brushes, and an Un-flashy, artistic look.

Trial version available

PC and Mac compatible


An overview of the software

Trial download link

  • Trial period for 30 days
  • PC and Mac compatible

What to expect in a Classic Animation Software?

A free 2d animation software usually allows you to:

  • Scan your artwork and place it on a timeline.
  • Use a pen tablet and draw the frames directly into the software, bypassing the need for pencil and paper.
  • Capture images from a camera on an animation stand, or a simple webcam, to create a pencil test or stopmotion.
  • Import an existing image sequence.
  • Insert a soundtrack.
  • Ink and Paint your animation.
  • Most 2d animation software will work together with an external image editing program, such as Photoshop, to let you to work on your frames.
  • All will export your creation to a video file, usually to an AVI or WMV or Quicktime format.


You will need one or all of these:

  • Scanner
  • Digital camera
  • Webcam, preferably one that has an adjustable focus.
  • Pen tablet
  • Peg bar, or some other way to register hand drawn paper pages.

Complementary software

A 2d animation software will usually only take care of making the animation itself.
Beyond a certain level of production, you will probably need:

  • A Sound Editing software
  • Image editing (eg. Photoshop or Gimp)
  • Compositing and Editing software (Premier, After Effects, iMovie, maybe Movie maker could do up to a certain level.) You will need this to combine several shots into a sequence and add a soundtrack of reasonable quality.

The overall production software can come later though, when you feel you need them.

First, pick one and just start animating!

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Learn to draw people

How to animate a walk cycle

List of vector based 2d cartoon software