Hey, you’ve always wanted to make cartoons right?
Want to make your own cartoons for free? Had great ideas and wanted to animate them, but you didn’t know where to start, what materials you needed, or what books to study? Then this list is for you!
I’m going to show you some of the best animation software that you can download completely for FREE! If you’ve ever wanted to make your own cartoon but didn’t know how, these are great places to get started:
FREE ANIMATION SOFTWARE:
This was the first program I learned how to animate on! It’s very easy to learn, and has a lot of features like sound importing, motion-tweening, and puppet rigging! This would probably be my highest recommendation for you to check out of this whole list!
Why is it free? This is an older version of Flash/Adobe Animate called Macromedia Flash MX. Adobe has released the activation on this old version and released the serials, so now you can download Adobe Flash/Adobe Animate completely for Free! Check this video out to find out more:
If you’d like to learn how to use Flash, I’ve also created a free tutorial on how to animate in Flash for beginners! This will show you everything you need to get started animating in less than 10 minutes!
Krita is a great program, but is still being developed so they may be some glitches. It is a great free alternative to Photoshop as well, so it’s great for creating cartoon backgrounds as well as animating characters, anime, or anything you want! It even includes sound for lip sync! It is a great way to quickly practice frame-by-frame animation! Available for Mac, Linux, and PC.
This is a free and open-source version of the program that was used by Studio Ghibli. It is also currently being developed by volunteers, so expect a lot of glitches. It’s also not very beginner-friendly. But man, is it powerful! It has nearly all the same features Toon Boom Harmony has, and WAY more features than Adobe Animate! Try it out, see how you like it, it’s not like it’s gonna cost you anything.
This program is very lightweight, and dead-easy to do simple animations in! While it’s technically a drawing program, it has an onion skinning feature where you can see previous and next drawings for animation. Super easy to use! Great for beginners! It is also available for Mac and PC.
Plastic Animation Paper (PAP)
This program is pretty old, and it looks it! But it has all of the features you’ll need to create your own 2D frame-by-frame animations, just like Disney! And it’s pretty easy to learn!
You know what’s also practically free? Paper!! I got my first start animating on the back of my mom’s business cards and fastening them together with binder clips! You can do the same!
- Take a stack of semi-thick paper that is all the same size. You could use index cards, business cards, or sticky notes, they practically grow on trees…
- In animation it’s important to see the previous drawing so you can draw your next frame in movement. This is done with a lighted surface called a “lightbox” but you can use your phone with the brightness turned all the way on instead!
- Then just draw frame after frame of your stick figure moving around, a ball bouncing, or whatever else you want to animate! Make sure to number them in case they drop on the floor accidentally!
- When you’re done stack them all together in order with the first drawing on top to make a flipbook! You can keep it together with a rubber band, tape, or even a clothespin! I used small binder clips.
One of my old flip-books from when I was 11.
Can You Animate With a Mouse?
While I don’t recommend it (it’s inaccurate, slow, and can cause wrist injuries) you totally can draw and animate with a mouse! Try keeping it simple though. Stick figures are pretty easy to draw, try drawing a bunch of those, or practice drawing circles to get used to how to draw with a mouse!
But if you’d like to get a tablet, here is a great, cheap, drawing tablet I would totally recommend for young people or beginners:
Animator’s Survival Kit is a MUST-HAVE book for animators both beginner and expert! It goes over walk-cycles, the 12 principles of animation, and almost everything you’d want to learn with animation. I definitely recommend getting this:
If you use those Amazon links it will support me, and they’re products I would highly recommend to you. I get a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you, and it helps me run my webpage and YouTube channel and pursue a career of teaching animation to awesome future animators– like yourself!
Have fun animating! :)