If you’ve ever created animations, you’re probably familiar with Adobe Animate. One of the most popular animation software options for professionals and amateurs alike, Adobe Animate is a powerful platform with plenty of dynamic tools.
But just because Adobe Animate is one of the most well-known animation software options out there doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for every animator.
There are plenty of Adobe Animate alternatives that are less expensive, easier to use, and have a cleaner user interface.
Today we’ll take a closer look at that software along with our top 7 Adobe Animate alternatives.
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What is Adobe Animate?
Adobe Animate is a popular 2D animation tool that enables users to design interactive animations.
Create interactive web banners that respond to user interactions like click, touch, and mouse movements, or use the platform to build more expressive web characters that blink, talk, and walk with frame-by-frame animation. The software is equally powerful for building game environments or online learning experiences.
With Adobe Animate, it’s easy to reach your audience on desktop, mobile, and TV. You can also export your animations to multiple platforms like Flash/Adobe AIR, HTML5 Canvas, and custom platforms like SVG.
Adobe Animate key features
- Use Adobe Fresco live brushes to bring characters to life.
- Make animations more realistic with Animate Camera.
- Do all your asset coding and design within the app.
- Create interactive content for eLearning or game environments.
Why you may want an Adobe Animate alternative
Firstly, Adobe Animate isn’t free. Plan prices vary by region — in the United States, a monthly subscription starts at $20.99, which may be over your budget.
You may not like the layout of Adobe Animate, either. Its user interface can seem cumbersome and hard to find your way around.
There’s also no available mobile software download, which is a downside if you’d like to manage your animation projects on the go.
Given that it’s a specialized 2D animation platform, Adobe Animate has limited 3D capabilities. If you’re looking to create 3D animation projects, it might not be the right choice for you.
Before you make a final decision, review and test our Adobe Animate alternatives.
Top Adobe Animate alternatives to up your animation game
1. Toon Boom Harmony
Toon Boom boasts that “the best animation studios in the world use their software.” According to their site, Fox, NBC, Boulder Media, and Chavo all use Toon Boom.
In fact, Toon Boom’s Harmony animation software is behind some of our favorite TV animations, including The Simpsons, Rick and Morty, and Spongebob Squarepants.
But, how does it stack up as an Adobe Animate alternative?
- Onion-skinning feature. View the previous drawing underneath the next sketch to help create smoother movements and transitions.
- Multiple import and export features. Upload your own paper drawings or digital images as more than 13 different file types.
- Animation pegs. The software charts the path of the character’s movement and automatically animates the steps between 2 points.
- Lack of audio features. You can’t record or edit audio in the software, so you’ll need to use an external audio program if you want your animations to include audio.
- No pre-loaded characters. Animators must create the characters from scratch, which is a downside if you’d like some extra help.
Operating system: Windows (7 and 10) macOS (High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina)
Pricing: The Essentials plan starts at $25 per month, the Advanced plan is $63 per month, and the Premium plan is $115 per month.
Who is ToonBoom best for? Professional freelance animators or animation studio owners looking for an advanced set of animation tools
Krita is a free Adobe Animate alternative that doesn’t require a sign-up to use the software.
Unlike Adobe Animate, Krita is completely open-source, giving animators more flexibility in how they use the platform
Its drag-and-drop dockers and panels are intuitive to use and fully customizable. The user interface is simple and not cluttered with tools, making it easy for beginners and advanced users to find their way around.
- 100 preloaded brushes. Categories include ink, digital, paint, and sketch.
- Onion-skinning feature. See your previous drawing to help you plan out your next frame
- Tablet support. Krita supports pressure-sensitive tablets, enabling you to draw with varied pressure on the page.
- Pixel-based drawing. This makes manipulating parts harder and can easily cause rough edges.
- Exporting is more complicated. Krita requires a secondary application to export animations.
- Sound is added during the editing process. Adding sound at this stage makes accurate lip-syncing harder.
Operating system: Windows 8.1 or higher, Linux, and macOS X 10.12
Who is Krita best for? Designers who are looking to dip their toe into animation and won’t mind the heavy emphasis on illustration features, as professional animators might find Krita tools limiting
3. Synfig Studio
Synfig Studio is another free Adobe Animate alternative with powerful features to help you create flawless animations.
Using vector graphics, Synfig Studio enables users to create simple animated objects as well as film-quality animations.
Tools are conveniently organized into different kits, making it easy to find your way around the workspace.
- Vector tweening. Transform a vector into another shape. Set the key positions and the software will automatically calculate the inbetween frames.
- 50+ layers. Choose from layer types like geometric, gradients, filters, distortions, and fractals.
- Automatic lip-sync. A plugin enables automatic pairing between characters’ movements and audio, enabling your animation to look more realistic.
- Constant saving required. The software crashes when overloaded, meaning you’re at risk of losing work if you forget to save.
- Steep learning curve. There are few available online resources to help users learn the software.
Operating system: Windows 7 or above, macOS X 10.8 or above, and Linux
Pricing: Synfig Studio enables users to pay what they think is fair; however, if you enter $0 the software is free. You can also contribute to their Patreon.
Who is Synfig Studio best for? Confident animators who require complex features and are happy without help resources
Created in 2017, CACANi is a relatively new animation software. It’s become popular thanks to its vector drawing system that comes with features like smoothing modes, a resolution-independent canvas, and curve drawing tools.
Developed with hand-drawn animators in mind, CACANi aims to reduce the work required by auto-generating animation drawings.
- Assisted painting system. Paint one frame and transfer the color information from that frame to the rest of the animation sequence or to certain frames within the sequence.
- Re-match Stroke feature. Correct stroke matching problems in-between frames.
- Drawing tools. The accurate smooth feature makes freehand vector drawing simpler, giving users a smoother pressure-sensitive stroke the first time around.
- Only available for Windows systems. Currently, Mac and Linux users aren’t able to download CACANi.
- Expensive for team use. Individual plans are the most cost-effective, with plans for multiple users and computers expensive as a result of the need for multiple licenses.
Operating system: Windows 7, 8, or 10 64-bit versions
Pricing: An individual 30-day license is $20, year-long license is $180, and perpetual (life-long) plan is $499. A team year-long plan for 4 devices starts at $399, while a perpetual plan is $799.
Who is CACANi best for? Animators looking for advanced tools who won’t mind paying a higher price tag or using it only from Windows operating systems
Blender is a free and open-source 3D creation software. Its specialized animation tools enable artists to transform their still-life characters into fully-fledged animations.
A community-based software, Blender attracts hundreds of global contributors like scientists, artists, and animators who help build new tools and plug-ins.
- Sound synchronization. It’s easy to get your audio to match your visuals with Blender’s automatic synchronization.
- Pre-programmed keyboard shortcuts. Learning the hot-keys or having a list handy, means you can control the software almost exclusively from your keyboard.
- Shape keys. Tweak facial expressions, refine skeletal rigs, and model muscle parts with precise shape keys that make it easier to create realistic animations.
- Complex user-interface. There are duplicate buttons all over the screen, making it appear cluttered. Some of the main controls seem hidden in counterintuitive places.
- Bugs and glitches. Heavier projects can slow the software down or cause it to crash.
Operating system: macOS 10.13 or higher, Windows 10 or higher, and Linux
Who is Blender best for? Animators looking for free advanced customizable software to help them create professional-grade productions
6. Wick Editor
Wick Editor is a flash-based online animation software for designing games, animations, and everything in-between.
Created by Luca Damasco and Zach Rispoli, Wick Editor was born out of a need to create a free and accessible animation program to teach kids. For that reason, it’s a basic and easy-to-use toolkit.
Unlike Adobe Animate, it’s free, open-source, and runs directly from your web browser. If you prefer to work without an internet connection, there’s also a beta version of their downloadable software.
- User-friendly interface. Icons are large and easy to click on. Text labels appear when you move your cursor over the icons, making it easy to find your way around the software.
- Basic programming options. Wick Editor combines animation design with a programming environment. It’s suited to users who want to experiment with programming but don’t have in-depth coding knowledge.
- Multiple export options. You can export complete or unfinished projects in multiple ways including GIF, ZIP, HTML, and video.
- Help resources. A library of examples and tutorials provides guidance on how to leverage the platform. Examples can be downloaded and opened in Wick Editor, making it easy to get going.
- Mobile inaccessibility. Wick Editor isn’t currently optimized for mobile use. Creation and about pages aren’t responsive on mobile devices.
- Limited tools and features. The animation software can feel quite basic for advanced users. At the moment, Wick Editor is working on bringing out gradients, glows, and raster-based tools.
Operating system: Chrome and Firefox browsers are best for running the software.
Pricing: Free, but users can donate to the creators on Patreon
Who is WickEditor best for? Freelancers or marketers looking to create their first simple animations
Born out of the popular animation creation software Toonz, OpenToonz is a free Adobe Animate alternative. Whatever the size of your project, it’s totally free — you can use it for both commercial and amateur productions.
Being open-source, you can modify the code, add new features, or change the graphical interface.
OpenToonz is also compatible with vector and raster images, giving you more options for your choice of animation production.
- Compatible with TWAIN standards. OpenToonz can capture images from scanners and digital cameras which you can then incorporate in your animations.
- 100+ special effects. Add distortion waves, create an incident light effect, and change the style of an image.
- Choose between different animation types. Create skeletal animations or draw traditional animations.
- Complicated for beginners. OpenToonz is professional-grade and may require users to undergo a steep learning curve. There are fewer tutorials and resources than other platforms so it requires some experience.
- No auto-lip sync. Lack of automation makes it harder to align sound effects with character movements.
Operating system: Windows (7 or higher) and macOS X 10.9 or higher
Pricing: Free for commercial and amateur use
Who is OpenToonz best for? Professional animators looking to make the most of the available tools and features
The bottom line: which Adobe Animate alternative is right for you?
So there you have it: a full lowdown on the best Adobe Animate alternatives available today. As with any new software decision, the best Adobe Animate alternative will depend on your budget, and which features and tools are a priority.
Before you commit to a potentially pricey animation software purchase, check out a few Adobe Animate alternatives and take advantage of free trials.
While you’re testing out new tools, be sure to take a look at the AppSumo Store for all the latest software deals we’re running.