Best 3D Animation Software for Beginners [Free And Paid in 2022]

It would help if you mastered 3D animation software to give life to the 3D models you draw or wander in your imagination.

To achieve a professional result, you must train to assimilate shooting techniques or even the specificities of game engines and rendering tools.

To do this, we teach students every year in our 3D animation school, from graduation to bac +5, with a state-recognized Master’s degree, level I, registered with the RNCP.

3D animation is an exciting world for anyone interested in cartoons, 3D animated films, motion capture, 3D modelling, 3D video, game design, or cinema and animated cinema.

While your ambition is to join one of the biggest studios, such as Pixar or Dreamworks, or work in an independent studio in France or abroad, you must develop technical expertise on 3D animation software.

List Of The Best 3D Animation Software

  1. Maya
  2. 3DS Max
  3. Cinema 4D
  4. Adobe Animate
  5. Renderforest
  6. Animaker
  7. Keyshot
  8. iClone

Now that we have recommended the above tools:

let’s examine their features closely.

Maya:

Maya is widely considered the industry standard and offers an impressive array of tools and features.

However, this application is very complex. It will take you some time to master this software, but if you want to work in the animation or special effects industry, this is probably your best choice.

Maya is perfect for modelling, texturing, and lighting… Its features include particles, hair, solid body physics, fabrics, fluid simulations, and motion animation.

Key Features:

  • 3D modelling tools
  • UV editor
  • Shaders and Materials
  • Built-in sculpting tools
  • NDD tools for effective game models

Pricing:

  • Free Trial
  • Monthly Plan: $290
  • Annual Plan: $2,330
  • 3-Year Plan: $6,640

What I Like/Dislike about Maya:

Like: 

  • Good graphics
  • Easy access to tools
  • Every year, a new feature is added to make the software easier to use.

Dislike

  • It is a somewhat complicated program, and it is not an act for beginners; some of its tools are difficult to understand.

3DS Max:

3ds Max is a 3D computer graphics program created by Autodesk, which also owns Maya. It is used for television, film production, and architectural and product visualization.

Claimed to be easier to use than its sibling Maya, 3ds Max is very well endowed for 3D modelling, not to mention fluid, hair, and fur simulations, as well as character dressing and animation.

3ds Max offers a professional toolset and, like Maya, comes at a professional price. Again like Maya, a trial version is also available for 30 days.

Key Features:

  • Retopology tools
  • Smart extrude
  • Open Shading Language (OSL) support
  • Anchor to texture
  • Built-in Arnold renderer

Pricing:

  • Free Trial
  • Monthly Plan: $290
  • Annual Plan: $2,330
  • 3-Year Plan: $6,640

What I Like/Dislike about 3ds Max:

Like: 

  • It supports a huge number of tools that are easily available for modelling.
  • It is user-friendly in modelling and complex animation.
  • It supports powerful and multiple tools for animation.
  • It supports the Material Editor, allowing users to create and edit materials and maps in their scenes.

Dislike

  • Pricing is very expensive
  • antialiasing of Interface,
  • Sometimes lags on low-poly objects, and the shading viewport model could use some work.”
  • Hard to compose a scene in animation.

Cinema 4D:

Key Features:

Pricing:

  • Zbrush: $51/ Month
  • Universe: $41.50/ Month
  • Redshift: $57/ Month
  • Red Giant: $110/ Month
  • Cinema 4D: $129/ Month
  • Maxon One: $219/ Month

What I Like/Dislike about Cinema 4D:

Like: 

  • Cinema 4D is much user friendly than some of the other 3D software on the market. The software comes with many presets to enable your work to flow more efficiently. It is not only great for animation but also for graphic design and motion graphics. Mograph with cloner allows you to replicate models quickly, saving you precious time.
  • Love the render quality and how smooth the materials look, easy to work with the modelling and texturing tool, which helps us to get fast results.
  • Cinema 4D offers a rich feature-set and wide options in all stages of production, the integrated renderer is great to use and, compared to other products, fast in rendering.

Dislike

  • Cinema 4D is around $1000, which is expensive, but if you are a student or teacher you may obtain the education version. Also Cinema 4D lite comes with Adobe After Effects. Cinema 4D may also be purchased from Maxon by monthly subscription for $95 or their bundle with z-brush for $150.
  • Is hard to get information about animation or how to animate with the software is not very friendly on how to do it and is hard to figure it out.
  • You really need a lot of practice and knowledge to use such advanced software, even though I still have to search sometimes for the right tool after using Cinema 4D for 3+ years.

Adobe Animate:

For people who want to do work on animate vector graphics, create interactive content, and add effects, Adobe Animate is built for these people. This software also has built-in templates that can be customized to your liking.

Key Features:

  • Use Adobe Animate to animate vector graphics.
  • Create interactive content using Adobe Animate features.
  • Create content by simply dragging and dropping.
  • Add effects to your animations with built-in templates from Adobe Animate, such as colour and tone effects, time effects for video, and more.

Pricing:

  • Adobe Animate Single App: $27.99/ Month
  • Creative Cloud All Apps: $71.99/ Month
  • Student And Teachers: $25.99/ Month
  • Business: $110/ License

What I Like/Dislike about Adobe Animate:

Like: 

  • Adobe Animate is the industry-leading 2D animation software for creating interactive ads and games for web browsers, AR, and VR devices.
  • It comes free with an Adobe CC subscription, and the user interface is similar to other Adobe software. It features advanced rigging for characters, a rich asset panel with sounds and effects, a wide range of export formats, and great tutorials to get started.
  • I like Adobe Animate because it is very easy to operate. Anyone with basic knowledge can learn the animation with Adobe Animate. The frame-by-frame animation in the timeline requires less learning curve. The most functional thing of Adobe Animate is the tweens.

Dislike

  • Requires programming in ActionScript, Javascript, or HTML5 for interactive animation. Animations produced are quite resourceful. Needs to be used in conjunction with Photoshop and Illustrator for better graphics.
  • I think the lack of 3D cameras is one of the problems that everyone is looking to see, and the price of the software is very expensive, especially for beginners who want to enter this field.
  • Prices to rent can vary in different countries.

Renderforest:

If you are not a design expert but need to create a professional logo, animation video, music visualization, or intro, Renderforest is the obvious choice.

Business owners who don’t want to hire a facilitator but can follow easy-to-follow online instructions will be well advised to join Renderforest. This software is best if you don’t know how to code but want professional animations for a single monthly price.

Key Features

  • AI Automated
  • Over 50,000 unique graphic files to choose from
  • Downloadable professional mockups and branding guidelines
  • 100+ mobile-friendly website templates.
  • Ready-to-use animated blocks
  • One-click webpage animations

Pricing:

  • Free $0
  • Lite: $14.99/ Month
  • Pro: $29.99/ Month
  • Business: $29.99/ Month

What I Like/Dislike about Renderforest:

Like: 

  • A super-intuitive user interface makes it easy to create animated videos with just a few clicks.
  • Their advanced AI understands how to deliver high-quality logos and graphics to you.
  • Simple monthly pricing, based on the number of videos you need.
  • The quantity and quality of the resources it’s stunning, you can use them daily and not repeat a design.

Dislike

  • The monthly cost is a lot more expensive than if you paid yearly.
  • The only con I can think about this product is that there isn’t much spacing in small texts for you to write an overall amazing product.
  • Price plans are a little bit misleading. For instance, if you are not a huge, international company but yet you want to create some beautiful videos for you friends without watermarks, but quite a small number of videos (30 videos per month or fewer), you probably don’t need expensive plans, but Renderforest doesn’t really explain what kind of price plan to choose in this case. Is it marketing of something? A little bit discouraging
 

Animaker:

Launched in 2014, Animaker is a do-it-yourself type software. It has a wide range of services, including helping users create animated videos using embedded videos and infographics.In 2017, it launched a tool for creating vertical (animated) videos, the first animation company to do so.

The built-in templates are remarkably self-contained for essential animation work, including educational tutorials and classroom instruction.

Key Features

  • Cloud-based animation and video-making software for editing GIFs, short videos, and live videos.
  • Uses HTML and Adobe Flash
  • Ability to directly upload animated videos to platforms such as Facebook and YouTube (videos can also be uploaded as an mp4 extension)
  • Google Chrome Extension Deals
  • Has huge collections of anime characters, properties, icons, graphics, and maps.
  • It offers the ability to create videos in six different and unique video styles and layouts.
  • Video infographics offer
  • You can customize explainer videos (speech synthesis, background music, more than 100 sound effects).

Pricing:

  • Basic $10/ Month
  • Starter: $19.99/ Month
  • Pro: $49.99/ Month

What I Like/Dislike about Animaker:

Like: 

  • Pro-level functions (recording, multi-movie, camera, curve, transition effects, in and out products)
  • Animaker deck (brings together all the features of animated videos and the convenience of Powerpoint on the same platform)
  • Audio features include voice-over and automatic character lip-syncing.
  • Support for texts in more than 50 languages ​​(support for custom fonts)
  • Export video in full HD (1080p)

Dislike

  • Sometimes the preview may cause the video to lag.
  • There are sometimes errors in the case of downloading videos.
  • It does not offer HD animation in Free Version.
 

Keyshot:

KeyShot is a standalone ray tracing and global illumination animation program. You can create amazing 3D and 2D animations with this tool.

With KeyShot, you don’t even have to put an extra graphics card on your PC.

Additionally, it supports more than 30 file types for rendering 3D animations and comes with attributes including interactive labelling, texture mapping, and physical lighting.

This software is beneficial for concept modelling, where the advantages of 3D are needed. You can also use it for designing jewelry, toys, and automobiles.

Key Features

  • Provides real-time 3D image rendering workflow
  • Native support for over 30 3D file formats
  • Includes over 750 preset materials to help you style your videos differently
  • Core’s strength lies in its speed and flexibility
  • Animation and VR available
  • HDRI lighting allows you to adjust and light your scene according to your needs.
  • KeyShot XR will enable us to create interactive and tactile visuals
  • Still image animations
  • Media scattering feature (adds particle scattering)

Pricing:

  • Pro: $99.99/ Month or $1,188per year

Addons:

  • Keyshotweb: $39.00/ Month 
  • Network Rendering: $16.00/ Month 
  • Keyshot NX Subscription: $29.00/ Month 

What I Like/Dislike about Keyshot:

Like: 

  • Unparalleled detail, precision, and realism in visualization.
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac
  • User-friendly and intuitive Interface (for those with experience)
  • Imports and exports a variety of template formats
  • The user interface is great and perfect. You get a good and realistic rendering ones you have gotten the hangs of the settings. Also, it has a lot of inbuilt materials which can be used directly or manipulated to meet your design requirements.
  • Another thing I like about keyshot is that it can also be added as a plugin on most CAD software, which means you can directly send your design to key shot right from your design software.

Dislike

  • The price is high
  • 3D animation can be complex for a novice to grasp
  • Framing, sizing, and resizing the window can sometimes be tricky.
  • It has a steep learning curve. Though the interface is good, it has too many settings for a beginner to learn for a good image to be rendered. Well, of course every good thing comes with its price. For a good, smooth and time-saving rendering, you need a good personal computer with a good ram, preferably a good graphics card. Because you will most likely be frustrated if you try it out on a low-end PC.
 

iClone:

iClone is both a tool to generate characters but also 3D animation software.

With iClone, create 3D humanoid models in the blink of an eye: the characters are designed from a basic mesh, which is then modified thanks to a complete set of tools.

First, adjust the overall silhouette of your personality and then customize it down to the smallest detail.

Key Features:

Pricing:

  • One-Stop 3D Character Animation Solution: $599.00 (one time purchase)

What I Like/Dislike about iClone:

Like: 

  • iClone can run on PCs with average specs, while other 3D animation tools require you to have a high-end PC to handle your workflow smoothly. The animation process has not been overcomplicated, and the features are great.
  • Before, I used version 6.X, but this latest version of iClone 7 is compatible with previous versions, so great, it helps me a lot because it is a powerful tool.
  • iClone is one of the best software to use for character creation, whether you work for movie VFX, gaming, or whatever.

Dislike

  • I severely dislike nothing about the iClone, but I hope there are some bugs that will be fixed in later updates.
  • Being a very new version, there are small bugs that need to be improved, I imagine that the updates will fix it.
  • The Human IK is a bit too basic and too often gives faults for non-standard characters. There are possibilities to edit one’s way around the faults, but it becomes time-consuming. The clothing conforms can also be a bit frustrating for non-standard figures – which shouldn’t be because iClone Character Creator just begs for wild creativity.

Conclusion:

There are a lot of 3D modelling tools available in the market but it is a very hectic task to select the best one.

A 3D  animation tool will help you to make 3D objects at the height of your imagination.

Above is the list of the Top 8  3D animation software that we recommend. We hope from our reviews we helped you choose the best one for your 3D animation project

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