Best 3D Animation Software

From the point of view of three-dimensional computer graphics, 3D animation is understood as a change in the characteristics of three-dimensional graphic objects in the time range. To do this, programs are used to create animations in 3D.

Programs for 3D animation use various ways to obtain animation effects:

  • use keyframes with specified parameters;
  • setting a three-dimensional object with a certain trajectory of movement;
  • dynamic simulations (mathematical modelling of the movement of the object in the real environment, the interaction of objects);
  • motion capture – processing information from sensors placed on a moving object;
  • Overlay textures, chiaroscuro, additional effects.

The best programs for 3D animation use at least a few of the mentioned methods in combination. In addition to professional software, several suitable tools also have programs for 3D animation for beginners. Some programs are distributed free of charge; others must be bought. Below is a brief overview of the most popular paid and free 3D animation software:


Although Blender is free software, at the moment, the set of its tools for 3D animation is quite wide, and in many respects, modern Blender can be compared with such giants as 3Ds Max and Maya. 

  • Compatible with operating systems: Windows, Mac OS, Linux
  • Who is recommended: from beginners to pros

Blender stands out from other options because it’s an open-source 3D animation software free suite that involves animators and programmers worldwide, so you can be sure that it offers a wide variety of features, and the number of bugs is minimized.

If you’re not yet ready to animate a character by creating his every move from scratch – try to develop animation based on your movements. The blender supports the entire workflow from start to finish: modelling, animation, simulation, rendering, video editing, etc.

Autodesk Maya

In Autodesk Maya, you can use a standard motion template from the library and create your animation based on it. Users can also import external objects such as textures and animations into the program. 

  • Compatible with operating systems: Windows, Mac OS, Linux
  • Who is recommended: from beginners to pros

Many newbies are interested in what software animators like Disney are using? The correct answer is “different.” And Autodesk Maya is one of them because it’s considered a classic and an industry standard for the job. But Pixar animators work on specific software created solely for internal use by the company’s employees.

Also, on Autodesk, Maya was created such famous cartoons as “Finding Nemo”, “Monsters, Inc.”, and the Oscar-winning “Avatar”. 

The trial version is available for free, and the most profitable paid package costs from $ 122 / month (license for three years). There is also a program for students, within which you can get free access to the software for the period of study. 

Adobe Character Animator 

Adobe Character Animator is another 3D animation software for beginners.

  • Compatible with operating systems: Windows, Mac OS
  • For whom it is recommended: beginners

How it works: You choose a character (called a puppet) that you can create in advances, such as Procreate, Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. The program then uses the computer’s microphone and webcam to detect voice, movements and animate the image. 

Essentially, you use your performance to animate the character in real-time: the movement of your eyes, eyebrows, the mouth will be transmitted to the hero. You can also add hand gestures, shoulders, etc., to the project. 

Cinema 4D

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Cinema 4D Animation software can be used to create textured 3D objects, lighting, animations, and visual effects. It is a powerful, quick, flexible, and dynamic toolset that makes 3D workflows more reachable and competent for VFX, design, AR/MR/VR, game development, motion graphics, and different visualization professionals.

  • Compatible with operating systems: Windows, Mac OS
  • Who is recommended: from beginners to pros

Initially, the product was created for Amiga (an IT company that no longer exists), and now the software is available to all users of Windows and Mac OS operating systems. 

The program has an intuitive interface and an individually customizable menu that will perfectly match the needs and preferences. An annual subscription costs $60 per month. 


Houdini is a professional tool that allows you to create, edit, render a project from the very concept of the product to the final result.

Houdini Apprentice is a free version of Houdini FX that students and amateur artists can use to create non-commercial projects. So, the user gets access to almost all the software product functions.

The software is most often used to create visual effects in movies or games in a professional environment. For example, renowned companies like Pixar, Double negative, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Framestone, DreamWorks Animation, Method Studio, Sony Pictures Imageworks, MPC, the Mill and ILM has worked with this software already. The Houdini animation program was used to develop many popular animated movies, including Zootopia and Frozen.

As for functionality, Houdini has many different options to create high-quality three-dimensional graphics and animations. Free licenses are available for 30 days, and when they expire, the program will offer to install a new set of licenses for another 30 days.

The user can renew the student’s license as many times as possible. Pro versions of Houdini are provided for a fee. 


The popularization of videos in various spheres of life makes 3D animation in demand in the marketing, science, entertainment industry. The many advantages of three-dimensional graphics, including unlimited creative possibilities and budget, compared to shooting on location with real actors, makes many people think about how to create a video with 3D effects on their own. But the presence of good software does not make you an animator because even simple 3d animation programs require certain skills. Even advanced users are regularly faced with difficulties and the need to master additional skills in connection with software updates or new tasks.