If you are a fan and passionate about the world of 3D animation, we have great news for you. Today we share 5 free 3D animation programs that will help you develop your skills as an animator. These programs can be very useful but remember that paid software has more tools and better libraries so that your project is complete. Still, these free tools will be very useful to you.
Table of Contents
Free animation software
The following programs that we are going to show you below are mostly open source animation programs or free versions of powerful software. In some cases, although they may have limited functions, they are perfect to start practicing and improving your skills as an animator for the creation of objects, characters and 3D environments.
- Houdini Apprentice
- Boats Animator
Blender: The most popular open source application for 3D animation
Blender should top this list. This powerful free and open source 3D creation program is focused on professionals who are looking to perform actions such as: modeling, animation, rigging, rendering, simulation, composition and motion tracking. It also gives you the facility to create an entire post-production from the same program with video editing, composition and visual effects options. Believe it or not, the special effects in Captain America: The Winter Soldier were designed with Blender.
Technical requirements of the blender
The minimum technical aspects to use Blender are:
- 64-bit quad core CPU
- 16 GB RAM
- Full HD screen (1920 x 1080)
- Three-button mouse or tablet and stylus
- Graphics card with 4 GB RAM
- Works on: Windows, Mac and Linux
- 100% portable: no installation or internet connection required.
- Formats: 3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, stl, vrml, x3d
Clara.io: Website to create animations
This option is a web-based application, so you can work from your browser to create, animate and render 3D content. In its workspace you will find the essential tools to be able to work with 3D modeling such as extrusion, bevel, cut and loop. In addition, as you work it from the browser, you can include more members of your team to participate in the modeling. Something like Google Drive.
This application is created by Exocortex and its collaborators who have worked on programs such as Softimage, Maya, and 3ds Max. There is no need to download anything to your PC or Mac. Users have access to many features such as object creation and animation on the same web. Clara.io automatically save all your changes and progress on its server. And since it is in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about getting an update, this is done automatically.
Clara io technical requirements
Free plan includes:
- 2GB of cloud storage
- Unlimited public scenes
- 1 hour of rendering per month
- Support through a public forum
- You don’t need a credit card
Daz3D: program for beginners
It is an animation program designed more for fans of the world of 3D animation. This program is versatile that allows you to create 3D figures, animation and rendering. Perfect for animators, designers, and illustrators. Your free plan may have fewer features that make workflow easier. Despite that, this free animation program has a wide variety of tools.
The system it uses is a combination of different graphic design platforms, solutions and plugins such as Hexagon, Genesis 8 and Daz Studio that work together to enhance the creation of 3D human models. Likewise, they can create digital environments, animations and illustrations. Provides a figure platform and character engine that enables detailed character production.
Daz3D technical requirements
Recommended technical requirements for Windows/Mac
- Intel Dual Core equivalent or higher / Intel Macintosh®
- 1.6 GHz (2 GHz dual core or higher) / 1.6 GHz min (1.8 GHz or higher)
- Windows 10, 8, or 7 / Mac ™ OS X 10.6 or higher
- 1 GB RAM min (2GB + recommended)
- 1GB free on hard disk for installation
- OpenGL 1.6 compatible graphics card with at least 128MB of RAM
- DirectX 9 (used only for audio processing)
- Available format: obj, fbx, dae, daz
It is a well-loved and useful program for 3D animation and video game development. This tool will help you generate complex geometries at a constant quality level by changing individual parameters. Something very interesting about Houdini is that its tools allow you to perform self-rigging.
Houdini Apprentice is a free version of Houdini FX which can be used by students, artists and hobbyists for the creation of personal non-commercial projects. With this program you can have access to many options that are offered in the paid version to be able to outline and improve your skills to be a 3D animator.
Houdini technical requirements
- Operating system: Windows 10, Windows 8, macOS 10.13 or higher, Ubuntu 16.04+ LTS
- Memory: 4GB required minimum. 64GB for smooth simulations.
- Processor: Intel or AMD x64 CPU with SSE 4.2 required.
- Disk Space: 3 GB required for installation
- Input device: 3-button mouse required and Wacom tablet recommended for Houdini brush-based tools
- Graphics Cards: NVIDIA GeForce GPUs: 440 or better, NVIDIA Quadro GPUs: 440 or better, AMD: 20.Q1 or better, Intel 10.18.10.3958 or better
- Monitor: 1920 x 1200
- Work formats: bgeo, clip, fbx, geo, hip
It is a program designed to create stop motion. Unlike the other tools, the Boats interface is clear, organized and designed so that beginners in this world of animation feel comfortable. The frames captured with the program can be viewed immediately. A very fun program.
This program, like Blender, is free, and open source for Windows, MacOS and Linux. The program has been opened under the GNU General Public License and contributions can be made within its active repository on the project’s GitHub.
Boats Animator Technical Requirements
- The software works on Windows 7 or higher, MacOS 10.9 or higher and Linux (+ GCC v4.6 & + GTK v2.24).
- Requires an Intel Pentium 4 or higher processor with SSE2 support.
- Format: avi, mov and mpg.
- A usb webcam.