Animation is one of the pillars of the entertainment industry and rightly so, from movies to TV shows to gaming to websites and even YouTube videos feature animations extensively. It is an art form and there is a lot of demand for it. Check out our list of the Best Animation Software for Mac.
If you are a budding animation artist, you are probably looking for animation software that suits all your needs. Or you might be someone who is looking for a change if you are not satisfied with the one you are using right now.
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While I am no animator, a nephew and a friend of mine are, and they keep telling me how some animation software make or break their workflow. So, with their help and some research I present to you the Best Animation Software for Mac. Choose the best animation software depending on your workflow and needs.
After having reviewed all the Animation Software for Mac based on various factors like UI/UX, function, features, price and much more; my team and I zeroed in on 8 that really stood out. These 8 were further put through a series of stress tests to determine the best. We found that:
The best animation software for mac is the AUTODESK MAYA. This program is perfect for beginners and can help you deliver quality animation. It is commonly used by Disney professionals. Maya lets you create characters, models, motion graphics, terrains, backgrounds and much more.
BEST ANIMATION SOFTWARE FOR MAC
Autodesk Maya is one of the best animation software, and this is evident as it is also the most popular software for animation among Disney artists. So naturally, this makes it a professional animation software but don’t shy off if you are a beginner, as Maya is a great software for beginners too. Maya has been used in the production of great films like “Avatar”, “Finding Nemo”, “Monsters Inc.” and tons more.
- One downside is that it costs a hefty 1620$ per year but it is also professional, powerful and the industry standard when it comes to animation. If you are a student, then good news, as you can access Autodesk Maya for free.
- Maya lets you create characters, models, motion graphics, terrains, backgrounds and more. Great software for simulation, rendering, animation and even VR.
- The built-in UV editor makes it easy and intuitive to use offering a lot of options from the UV Toolkit.
- Features a Clump Modifier that allows you to modify and groom animations easily.
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Blender is one of the most popular Animation software out there. While most might point out it is because it is open-source software, I think it features in this list and many best animation software lists because it is a robust and feature-rich animation software. Blender has an excellent community that will aid you on an otherwise hard animation software to master.
- Blender features support for the entire workflow of an animation project from Modeling to Video Editing. It also allows you to model, rig, animate, simulate, render, with compositing, motion tracking, and video editing. You can make an entire animated movie from start to end with these tools.
- Blender also lets you create pipeline tools, edit video and create scripts within the program to ease your workflow. The ability to create VFX, simulations, and games makes it a versatile and powerful animation software.
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If you are a beginner in the world of animation and you want to solely focus on 2D animation, then Pencil2D is one of the best software for you. And best of all, it is open-source, making it free to use. Its strength lies in its simplicity yet it offers advanced features if you are more than just a beginner.
- Easy to use and an excellent user interface makes it the go-to animation software for beginners. It supports more advanced tools for raster and vector workflows, making it a more robust and flexible animation software.
- Easy switching between workflows making one of the best animation software to work on. It also comes with frequent updates offer new features with great community support from other users.
Toon Boon Harmony
Toon Boon Harmony is a professional 2D animation software. It allows you to create animations, backgrounds and other graphics with ease. It is powerful, flexible and easy to use, making it one of the best animation software for Macs.
Toon Boon Harmony offers a free trial but requires a subscription for you to use it after that. The 20$ per month for the cheapest version makes it is comparatively cheaper than the other professional animation software on this list.
- Vector drawing and Bitmap support make it a powerful animation tool in accordance with the industry standard. The Render quality varies from HD to 8K depending on the subscription model. Features 3 subscription options, so you can choose the one you need based on your needs.
- Features like recoloring, rotoscoping and 3D environment support make it a versatile animation software. The multiplayer feature (multiuser ability) makes it a great software for team/group projects.
Synfig is another excellent 2D animation software with a lot of useful features. One of the more advanced 2D animation software is not particularly easy to master, making it hard for beginners/students. But once you get the hang of it, you can create masterful 2D animations. And the icing on the cake is that Synfig is completely free because it is open-source.
- Multiuser support makes it an excellent animation software for team/group projects. This powerful software comes with support for many layers, within animations.
- You can also add geometry, filters, distortions and transformations making it robust and versatile. Additionally, it features a bone system that makes it easy to create animations with bitmap images.
- Synfig also allows you to add and sync audio to animations with the built-in audio editor. It has two versions to choose from, stable or development version. The stable version offers a smooth and bug-free animating experience while the development version offers you access to new features first.
Maxon’s Cinema 4D is an animation software that has been a mainstay for quite some time now. Cinema 4D is a 3D animation software on which you can create, texture, provide lighting, animate and render 3D objects making it versatile and powerful. It is a professional software but it is fairly easy to master making it great for students too. Comes in at 60$ per month making it costly but it is professional software with excellent support from the developers.
- Create, animate, and render 3D models professionally. It has a new spine tool that allows users to manipulate points, tangents, line and arcs. This makes it more flexible to create precise and high-quality models.
- Lightweight software making it an easy to run and fast software, even on older Macs too. Additionally, it supports lighting, visual effects, and Lens Distortion for a varied set of use cases.
LightWave is a 3D animation software for Macs that is developed by NewTek. LightWave has been a part of the development of tons of video games, animated movies, graphics, virtual reality experiences and more.
It is one of the more fully-fledged animation software out there. LightWave 3D offers a free 30-Day trial. It will cost a cool 995$ one-time fee after that, but students and teachers and get it at 195$ for the educational version.
- LightWave uses a node editor making animation and rendering a breeze. It features global illumination giving you more control over lighting in the scene/environment.
- OpenGL support for real-time visual feedback is impressive. It also features properties for clouds and fog using a new in-built volumetric engine.
- Versatile software with support to create motion graphics, product designing, and advertisements and more.
Adobe Animate CC
Any creative software list cannot be complete without an Adobe software, thanks to their expertise in the field for so many years. Adobe Animate is an animation software that is a part of its Creative Cloud (CC) suite.
This makes it a great addition if you or your team already use CC. Frequent software updates and enhancements make the software even better over time.
- One of the most powerful animation software for games, apps, videos and even websites. Features an excellent timeline tool that is more powerful now. It also supports presets to make your workflow smoother.
- HiDPI support for high-resolution animations. New features provide you with the ability to add layer depth and camera enhancements.
Best Animation Software for Mac – Takeaway
Picking the best animation software for your Mac may seem like a daunting task, but it can be easy if you know what you need. The above are some of the best animation software for Mac and they are trusted by professionals too.
Pick the best one depending on what you need from the software and I bet that you will be happy as they are all amazing software with excellent features and support.
How to Choose an Animation Software For a Mac?
- This is simple, choose your software depending on if you want to do 2D or 3D animation. Choose the right animation type is one of the most fundamental aspects of choosing the right software. If your planning on creating a 2d animated video, then buying a 3d animation software that’s meant for games would not work out.
- 2D Animation: 2D animation is the more traditional style of animation. If you like Japanese animation then you love 2D animation. 2D animation was initially created by drawing images on transparent sheets and layering them. However, these days 2D animation software programs can help save a tremendous amount of time. For example, you get a digital timeline and even vector shapes that can shave the time off the actual drawing.
- 3D Animation: 3D animation, of course, is quite different from the other types of animation. The basic principles vary a whole lot which makes it just that much more complex to master. Creating 3D animations without a computer is extremely hard. So, the software is a must.
- However, good 3D animation software must help the artist with composition, movement, and 3D modelling. Additionally, it should be able to piece together various 3D models to create a character or even the external environment. The really good ones like Auto Desk Maya even help animate all the ideas along with the storyboard. So, that the sequence is maintained.
- Stop motion: Stop motion is another essential animation type. While the old school animators used to physically animate it with clay, the latest animation software allows you to do this on-screen. This basically, involves you taking photos and slightly moving them multiple times to achieve a motion. Although it is time-consuming, it’s still not as bad as physically doing it thousands of times.
- All creative software differ from each other and this is particularly true for animation software. Some software is easy to master like Pencil2D, Maya, and Harmony. On the other hand, Blender and Synfig have tough learning curves. So, depending on your skill level, choose an animation software best suited for you.
- Features are the selling points of any software, and animation software come with lots of features for better workflows and advanced techniques. Get the one that ticks all the feature you need for your work.
- Of course, a really good differentiating factor between sub-par animation software programs and amazing ones is the motion graphics feature. Animation software programs should also be able to help create other types of animated content/entities like banners, ads and effects.
- So, before buying a software program you should ensure that the program is capable of creating a type of graphic that’s simple and can be used for commercial purposes. This is significant;y important not just because of the versatility factor but also because you can tell that these programs are amazing when it comes to the details.
- Cost is something everyone has to consider; even big studios have to. Animation software can cost from being free to thousands of dollars over a year. Choose then that fits your budget or just try out different software as almost all paid software offer free trials.
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Alan Urban is the Editor-in-chief of Stupid Apple Rumours and often proclaims that he’s ” Apple’s number one fan.”
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