4 Best Facial Animation Software [2023 Guide]

Create realistic faces easily with these animation software

by Loredana Harsana
Loredana Harsana
Loredana Harsana
Managing Editor
Loredana is a passionate writer with a keen interest in PC software and technology. She started off writing about mobile phones back when Samsung Galaxy S II was... read more
Reviewed by Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Windows Server & Networking Expert
After moving away from the corporate work-style, Alex has found rewards in a lifestyle of constant analysis, team coordination and pestering his colleagues. Holding an MCSA Windows Server... read more
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  • Choosing the best face animation software is paramount for transforming your game's world into a fully immersive experience.
  • Taking advantage of modern 3D rendering and scanning, a complete face animation software will even register expressions and emotions.
best face animation software
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In our digital age, the animation is a significant component of multimedia. So if you’re a digital artist, this best face animation software might be handy for you.

Don’t be confused, this type of software is different than face blurring software, and it’s intended for digital artists, and today we’ll show you the best tools to choose from.

What is the best face animation software out there?

Adobe Animate – The best overall

By now Adobe has cemented its position as one of the top software companies.

Animate makes no exception. Formerly known as Flash, Animate is a new and more intuitive iteration of the same basic principle.

Ease of use and a nice learning curve, are some of the reasons why Animate can be a great option. On the downside, you will have to draw your characters by hand, which will require some time.

An alternative to this would be Adobe’s Character Animator, which relies on motion capture to generate a character. So, if you lack the drawing skills or the time, Character Animator is worth considering.

But, on the other side, if you are more into drawing, then know that with Animator, you can save and reuse your puppets/characters and automatically animate them through video performance capture.

Being part of the Adobe family, it’s not surprising that Animate can communicate with other programs from the Adobe suite.

Integration with tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator is, in fact, one of Animator’s strongest points.

Key features that make Character Animator worth considering:

  • Easy to pick up, even without previous experience with other animation software
  • Frame-by-frame animation feature
  • Integration with Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects for quick file transfer
  • Vector drawing tools far crisp animation
  • Video performance capture for automated animation

Adobe Animate

To take your facial animation skills to the next level, a tool like Adobe Animate can make a huge difference.

Check price Visit Website

Autodesk Maya – For professionals

Autodesk Maya, or simply Maya, is one of the market’s complete 3D computer animation and rendering software.

Maya’s overall complexity definitely makes it one of the best face animation software out there, but it also makes it more challenging to learn.

But, if you are looking to animate a face for a more complex project, such as a short animated movie, then Maya is your answer. It’s perfectly compatible with Adobe Illustrator, meaning you can easily transfer your vectors.

This, paired with an extensive library of dynamic effects (the interactive hair grooming effect is just one of the jaw-dropping possibilities), will allow you to create close-to-life animations.

Maya comes with a generous 30-day free trial and supports an Educational Version. This means students can apply for a 3-year valid license.

Autodesk Maya also supports a geometry conversion option. Translated, this option means you can transform any complex geometrical layout into a topology.

Just be aware before stepping in that Maya doesn’t support the most friendly and modern UI. That’s partly what makes it more difficult to learn than other options in this list.

But, if you are willing to put in the time and the effort, then Maya is definitely one of the best choices.

Key features of Maya:

  • Create realistic, close-to-life characters
  • A library of preexisting templates to get your project started
  • Multiple viewing angles for more granular control over your character
  • 3D environments to put your character into a world
  • Various animation effects to turn 3D models into moving objects
  • Different tools and brushes for drawing or sketching detail

Autodesk Maya

A complete solution for animating your ideas and rendering them into reality.

Free trial Visit Website

Blender – Completely free

Blender is a free, open-source software that has gradually become one of the leading programs for anything related to computer graphics.

The free aspect is not the only appealing thing about Blender. Apart from being one of the best face animation software to date, you can do pretty much everything with it.

Unlike Adobe’s Character Animator, Blender also supports its drawing tool. Therefore, you won’t have to bother with installing other third-party apps for this.

The current version further simplifies the learning process by adding dozens of new nodes you can discover with a simple search inside the program.

Blender is especially great for creating animated characters. What makes Blender stand out from its competition are its lighting effects, textures, and different materials.

Speaking of materials, there is an immense library out there, so you can make your pick.

What’s also great is that Blender’s UI is customizable. This is excellent news for those who felt slightly intimidated by Maya.

For those with programming skills, Blender supports a Python API which can run scripts that can further customize your layout, colors, interface, etc.

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In summary, because of its free, open-source nature, we can safely say Blender is easily one of the best face animation software to date.

Here are some of Blender’s key features:

  • Create poses for your character that you can store in your own library
  • Advanced sound synchronization
  • Sculpting with masks and dynamic topology
  • Motion tracking
  • Real-time preview of the tracked footage
  • Extensive node library to enhance your compositions

Get Blender

Houdini – Supports advanced facial animation

A titan amongst 3D animation software applications, Houdini is used by companies such as Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks, just to name a few.

When deciding which is the best face animation software, a strong case can be made for Houdini. Why is that?

For starters, their character animation options are close to unparalleled. Not only can you animate your face, but you also have complete control over details such as muscles, flesh, fibers, hair, and others.

Also, their new patch introduced an additional feature called KineFX. So if motion detection is your thing, then your character’s place is definitely in Houdini’s Studio.

If you think Houdini is your answer, then you should know that a free option is also available. It’s not as potent as the paid one, but it’s enough to give a sense of how this software works.

Houdini is best for creating simulations of anything fluid. Some prime examples include smoke, fire, particle movement, hair, and everything that entails natural movement.

In a nutshell, Houdini is a fantastic tool for creating effects for a scene. Although you can make the whole scene in Houdini, most of the time the modeling and rigging of the character are done with other tools.

In a sense, Houdini is the best face animation out there, as it’s primarily used for creating effects and animating a scene or a character.

Some of Houdini’s key features include:

  • Advanced facial rigging software
  • Motion capture support
  • Keyframes for controlling your animations and geometric modeling
  • Advanced body dynamics
  • Powerful volumetric systems

Get Houdini

Cinema 4D – Great for beginners

Cinema 4D is one of the leading software programs for 3D modeling and animation.

What makes Cinema 4D an amazing product is its optimization protocol. New features are added gradually every year, making Cinema one of the best face animation software programs to date.

The learning isn’t as steep as with Houdini, making it an ideal option even for beginners. In addition, there is also an unrestricted free trial, for you to try out all the features Cinema 4D offers.

Cinema 4D is best for photorealistic renders and 3D animations. What sets it apart from Blender and Maya is its user interface.

There is no denying that Cinema 4D sports one of the most intuitive and friendly interfaces in the 3D modeling industry.

It’s fast, flexible, and incredibly robust, making it a fantastic choice especially if you are just starting your journey into visual effects.

Another highlight is its procedural and polygonal modeling. This granular, node-based control, allows for precise control in creating demanding video game graphics, complex architectural landscapes, or motion graphics.

Talking about motion graphics, Cinema also has a built-in tool called Mograph. What Mograph does is speed up or accelerate your animations to the desired degree.

This is an incredible feature that further adds to Cinema’s flexibility and rationality. What do we mean by rationality? Mainly that Cinema is intuitive and very logically structured.

Cinema 4D key features:

  • Lens distortion support
  • Houdini engine integration
  • SketchUp integration
  • Easy-to-use, flexible interface great for beginners
  • Timeline view and filtering
  • Advanced pose library for creating dynamic characters

Get Cinema 4D

Choosing the best face animation software will largely depend on your goals. Another thing to take into consideration is time, as some of them have a pretty steep learning curve.

In terms of overall performance, features and cost, there is no denying that Houdini is a top choice. Although not as easy to learn as Cinema 4D and Adobe Character Animator, the result will be worth the effort.

And that’s about all from us. If you’re looking to get into the world of animation, consider using whiteboard animation software as well.

Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know what is your favorite software for animation.

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