10 best cartoon making software for PC

Watching cartoons is a guilty pleasure for many adults. But what if you took this interest to the next level and installed a cartoon making software on your Windows PC? You can use it to unleash your imagination and relive childhood memories. Moreover, if you’re a parent, you can then watch your creations together with your kids.

In this article, we’re going to list the best tools that you can use to make your own cartoons.

Here are the best cartoon making software for PC

ProductRating (1 to 5)Free/PaidWeb/Desktop appVectorisation/BitmapImport/Export MultimediaSupport
Pencil 2D4FreeDesktopBothImages onlyYes
Adobe Animation CC3.6PaidDesktopBothYesYes
Photoshop Timeline4.8PaidDesktop(Photoshop required)BothYesYes
Adobe After Effects4PaidDesktopBothYesYes
TV Paint5Paid(has trial)DesktopBitmapYesYes
Toon Boom Harmony4PaidDesktopBothYesYes
Crazy Talk Animator3Paid(has trial)DesktopBothYesYes
Synfig3.5FreeDesktopBitmapYesYes
Inkskape4FreeDesktopVectorisationImages onlyYes
Pixton4FreeWebNoneImages OnlyNo

Pencil2D

Pencil2D is a very interesting animation and drawing software for Windows. If you like traditional hand-drawn cartoons, this tool will definitely impress you.

As far as the technical part is concerned, Pencil2D uses a bitmap/vector drawing interface to create 2D graphics and animation. This free software is currently developed thanks to the collaborative effort of a small group of passionate users.

Pencil2D doesn’t offer state-of-the art features, but it should be enough to help you start the cartoon creation process. Speaking of features, here are some of the key features of this tool:

  • The autosave feature guarantees that you won’t lose your work when you forget to save. After 15 strokes, your file gets auto-saved.
  • You can copy and paste content from one frame to another. The cut feature is also supported.
  • The UI is very simple, straightforward and easy to use and is somehow similar to Microsoft’s Paint UI.
  • You can also add keyboard shortcuts to access various features.

Keep in mind that Pencil2D may sometimes be very buggy.  We’re sure that its developers will improve it in the future and the tool will become more stable.

If you’re curios to see what Pencil2D can do, check out the animation below:

You can download Pencil2D for free from the tool’s official website.


Adobe Animate CC

Adobe Animate CC is a powerful animation tool that you can use to create a variety of animated content, including cartoons, ads, games, and other interactive content. You can then export your creations and publish them on dedicated platforms, such as HTML5 Canvas, WebGL or Snap SVG.

The software offers a bevy of animation tools that will help you create impressive cartoons. Also, since this is an Adobe product, there are various Adobe tools built-in into the software that will come in very handy during the creation process. The integration of Adobe Stocks allows you to access millions of high-quality photos and vector graphics.

Animate CC also allows you to modify the path of a stroke after it’s been drawn. You can then scale your drawings to any resolution without losing image quality. When it comes to animation, you can quickly create complex animations thanks to the adjacent frames that can have different colors.

As far as the output video is concerned, the tool supports 4K+ video export with custom resolutions for the latest Ultra HD and Hi-DPI displays.

For more information on what you can do with Adobe Animate CC, check out the video below:

You can buy Adobe Animate CC for $19.99/ month.


Photoshop timeline

Photoshop is a very versatile tool that also allows you to create cartoons by joining frame by frame. To do this, you can use the Timeline panel to create animation frames.

If you haven’t used this  feature before, you can check out Adobe’s support pages where you can find the steps to follow to create stunning animations.

First of all, to animate layer content in timeline, set keyframes in the Timeline panel. More precisely, move the current-time indicator to a different time/frame, and you can then modify the position, opacity, or style. The most interesting part is that Photoshop automatically adds a series of frames between two existing frames creating the illusion of movement or progress.

Photoshop also allows you to create a hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation. Of course, this process takes longer, but painting each and every frame on a blank video layer lets you polish every tiny detail.

For more information on how to create a frame animation in Photoshop, check out the video below:

You can buy Adobe Photoshop for $19.99/ month.


Adobe After Effects

Yes, you read that right, this is the third cartoon making software from Adobe that we added to this list. Indeed, this company offers users quite a few useful tools to create 2D animation.

After Effects is a complex and powerful animation software that you can use to design professional graphics and visual effects.  If you’re not planning to create intricate animations, you can also use this tool to create cartoons.

Adobe After Effects is indeed a special tool. You can use your webcam and own facial expressions to animate your characters. Just turn on your webcam, start making funny faces and watch your character copying you.

The tool is part of Creative Cloud, allowing you to access and share all your creatives across your apps and devices.

If you want to see After Effects in action, check out this page and launch the video.

You can buy Adobe After Effects for $19.99.


TVPaint

TVPaint is a versatile animation software that allows you to create impressive cartoons. If you like old-school drawings and classic cartoons, then this is the right tool for you.

This software is perfect for drawing and animation enthusiasts. At the same time, it’s complex enough to offer a wide range of advanced tools and parameters. As a result, both laymen and professional artists can use it to unleash their creative potential on virtual paper.

As far as the technical part is concerned, TVPaint uses bitmap technology, allowing you to animate natural renderings image by image. You can then mix animation on paper and digital animation to create truly amazing animations.

Other key features include:

  • Additional tools to animate without a paper stage : layer and image management, light table, rotative workspace, image library, etc.
  • Additional functions to ease navigation in the images in your timeline (bookmarks and image marks).
  • A flip panel to create shortcuts and customize the preview of your animations.

Here’s a short hand animation created in TVPaint:

You can buy TVPaint Standard Edition for $568.00.


Toon Boom Harmony

Toon Boom Harmony is powerful animation tool that supports 3D animation, as well as 2D animation. This means that you can create hybrid animations by combining 3D imported models with 2D models.

This software includes absolutely all the features you need to create your project in one tool. Key features include:

  • Sophisticated brushes.
  • Advanced color palettes.
  • Traditional paperless animation.
  • Deformers.
  • Special effects.
  • Export to game engine.

For more information about the available Harmony editions and their price, go to Toon Boom’s official website.


Crazy Talk Animator

Crazy Talk Animator is a 2D animation software that you’ll fall in love with. It has a very intuitive interface that enables all levels of users to create amazing animations in no time.

The tool brings a series of useful features to the table, including Elastic Motion effects, a bevy of motion and character templates, a powerful 2D bone rig editor, facial puppets, and audio lip-syncing tools.

For more information on CTA and what it can do, check out the video below:

You can buy Crazy Talk Animator starting from $69.00 from Reallusion.


SynfigStudio

SynfigStudio is a 2D animation software that brings your cartoons to life. The tool supports many different layers (geometric, distortions), allowing you create really impressive images.

SynfigStudio also offers a full-featured bone system and a Skeleton Distortion layer. It also features a series of basic sound syncing options, allowing you to easily sync animation with soundtrack.

If you haven’t used SynfigStudio, you can check the tutorials available on the tool’s wiki page. You can download SynfigStudio from Synfig’s webpage.

For more information about the tool, check out the video below:


Inkscape

Inkscape is a powerful vector graphics editor that allows you to unleash your imagination. If you like to doodle a lot, then you should upgrade from using a napkin to using Inkscape.

You can use Inkscape both for personal and professional purposes. You can create funny cartoon characters for your kids, or professional logos and illustrations which require high scalability.

You can easily export all your Inkscape projects in various formats friendly to web browsers and printer rooms. If you need to work on your cartoons or logos on various platforms, Inkscape has got your back. This cross-platform software runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

The tool supports freehand drawing, as well as freehand calligraphic strokes. These will come in quite handy if you want to add some handwritten notes to your cartoons. It is worth mentioning that Inskape does not support animation. As a result, you can only use it as a cartoon drawing tool.

For more information about Inskape and to download it, go to the tool’s official webpage.


Pixton

Pixton is a versatile tool that you can use to create impressive cartoons. If you need to use engaging images to hook your audience at work, if you’re an educator who wants to use additional teaching methods, or you simply want to have some fun, download Pixton and let your imagination take over.

Pixton’s motto is “Everyone can make comics”. If you’ve never used this tool, you’ll quickly get the hang of it thanks to its user friendly interface and thorough tutorials. Creating cartoons with Pixton is very easy and straightforward: choose a background, add the characters, and you’re done.

If you want to see Pixton in action, check out the video below:

Conclusions

If you’re looking for a powerful and reliable tool to create amazing cartoons, we’re sure that you’ll find the right one among the tools listed above. If you still haven’t decided which one to download, take sheet of paper and write down what you’re going to use that software for. Then go through the list of features for each too, and download the software that best suits your needs.

For example, if you need a tool to draw humorous images, then download Inkscape. If you’re looking for an animation tool, buy Crazy Talk Animator, Adobe Animate CC or another tool from this list.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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