4 best hand-drawn animation software

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Former Managing Editor
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  • Express your artistic talent effortlessly with our selection of hand drawn animation software.
  • We've even picked drawing animation software that has been used in Oscar-winning animations.
  • Use Adobe Animate, the top-notch app from our list, to publish your work to multiple platforms in any format.
  • If you haven't decided yet, note that we've also included the best free hand drawn animation software out there.
best software for hand-drawn animation
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Hand-drawn animation gives you more freedom to express your artistic talent as you can basically do anything on a character.

It thus goes without saying that the final animation looks crisper and usually has more detail than in 3D, despite the latter being more “real”.

The results are especially wonderful if you deploy the best software for hand-drawn animation- of which you are not short of choices.

Now, the purpose of this write-up is to answer the question of what is the best software for hand-drawn animation because as I have explained, it’s the tool to help you accomplish whatever your creative instincts want.

Note: Hand-drawn animation is also known as cel or 2D animation. As a result, some of these software titles feature the terms 2D/animation prominently.

That said, some developers have adopted imaginative names for their programs and don’t even mention the said terms.

As we often do, we have been researching about these software and finally settled on the best 4 programs to help you produce hand-drawn animation that turn heads. Have a look.


What is the best hand-drawn animation tool for PC?

Adobe Animate

When it comes to graphics design, few software developers are so much in the spotlight as Adobe. Of course, it seems that even the 2D animation genre has its own dedicated program in the form of Adobe Animate.

This incredible program breaks the barrier between what can be considered professional software and user products, bringing top-notch tools into a very intuitive interface.

2D animation and control have never been simple thanks to Adobe Animate, from your typical 2D flash video to minimalist anime and kid’s cartoons.

You can use Adobe Animate to design interactive animations for games, TV shows, and the web, and even bring cartoons and banner ads to life.

Even if you’re not a professional, you can still use it to create animated doodles and avatars, add action to eLearning content and infographics.

Once you’re done, you can use Adobe Animate to quickly publish to multiple platforms in just about any format, and reach viewers on any screen.

Here are some of Animate’s key features:

  • Fluid Brushes
  • Onion Skinning
  • Infographics
  • Layer parenting
Adobe Animate

Adobe Animate

Create cool hand-drawn animation using awesome and useful features with Adobe Animate
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Krita

Which is the best software for animation?

Krita is arguably the best free hand-drawn animation software, designed primarily to give artists the flexibility to create and deliver riveting animations.

The software is a favorite of thousands (if not more) animators worldwide, and that’s not just because it comes free, thus being accessible.

It’s principally due to it being infinitely better than many of even the commercial hand-drawn animation software out there.

It has a simple interface (akin to the legendary Adobe Flash) to help you access and use its impressive assembly of innovative features.

I am referring to tools like the detailed timeline controls which come in handy when setting the speed of action. This helps you present your ideas in a way that rhymes with your audience’s needs.

On the same note, Krita’s real-time animation playback controls allow you to easily review your animation as you fine-tune cartoons and overall play for the best impression.

This software’s onion-skin display is industry-best. You will thus effortlessly see several frames simultaneously so that you can make the right decisions as far as further creations or changes to drawings are concerned.

The program is in general filled to the brim with such features making it a top choice for both amateurs and professionals.

Download Krita Free


Toon Boom Harmony

drawing animation software

A top-notch professional animation software for hand artists, Toon Boom has all the features you need to draw characters that rival the epic Disney Mickey Mouse cartoons.

It’s such powerful that several mega advertising firms, film producers, and game developers won’t touch any other tool for their animations and storyboard processes.

Its most praised property is its rigging ability. The program comes with specialized tools to help users easily build simple or advanced rigs. Its master controllers further save your time when animating complex rigs.

The program’s advanced color palettes are similarly excellent and provide superb control over the texture and colors frames.

More excellence comes from the shift and trace feature. This tool (available in camera view) helps streamline your work reducing the time it takes to create frame-by-frame paperless animation.

Moreover, the accomplished onion skin view consolidates all your essential onion skinning tools neatly to help you focus better on the animation task at hand

Other greats are the easily modifiable deformers, the amazing interactivity, file export tools…the list is endless.

You can try it for 21 days before subscribing to your favored version.

Download Toon Boom Harmony trial now


Moho Debut (Anime Studio)

pencil animation software

According to the developer, Moho Debut has been used in several Oscar-nominated films and considering its quality, this should not come as a surprise.

The key in this program is its efficiency and speed: Moho Debut should be your first go-to option if you’re looking for a tool that enables you to bring ideas to life within minutes.

Formerly Anime Studio debut, the secret to this program’s rock star performance is the design which reduces the number of steps required to run a process.

The latest release is bound to work even faster thanks to the revamped layers panels and the added back end panel that allows quicker customization of color and brightness.

Also helping you produce results swiftly is the hundreds of thrilling ready-to-animate characters, backgrounds, props, and scenery from which you can speedily design using the built-in wizard.

That you can pin bones to alter, shift, or reshape assets flawlessly is exciting as well as convenient.

Overall, for its fans, this is absolutely the best software for hand-drawn animation especially for cutout animations and skeletal movements.

Download Moho Debut 12


The best software for hand-drawn animation should come with all the tools you need to draw, animate, and render whatever piece of art dabble in. And it should so smoothly.

We have discussed the top 4 so it’s now your time to pick the program you have loved. Do it and let the world savor your extraordinary artistic oomph!


FAQ: Learn more about hand-drawn animation software

  • How do you animate a hand-drawn picture?

Learn everything about 2d animations from this detailed article dedicated to the best 2d animation software on the market.

  • What is the best animation software for beginners?

You can find this information in our thorough article about the best animation software for beginners and professionals alike.

  • What do animators use to draw?

Animators use special tablets to draw their awesome work. Take a look at our quick article containing the best drawing tablets on the market.

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