Best 3D Animation Software

In today’s world, 3D animation has become an essential part of the entertainment industry. From movies, television shows to video games, 3D animation is used everywhere to create realistic and engaging visual experiences for the audience.

3D Animation software provides users with a platform to create, design, generate and develop animated 3D graphics, simulations, and drawings. They can help artists and designers to make the most unusual fantasies come to life.

If you’re looking to break into 3D animation, choosing your software is the most crucial starting point. A good software can help you save a lot of money, time, and effort.

There are plenty of 3D animation software available on the market, but no one ideal software for everyone. Some of the programs are simple, and a few are complicated. Choosing the best 3D animation programs requires consideration of a wide range of factors.

Fortunately, we have listed the 10 best 3d animation programs in 2024, including both free and paid options, highlighting their pros and cons so you can make an informed choice.

What is 3D animation and its importance?

Unlike traditional 2D animation, 3D animation is the process of creating animated images and videos that appear to have three dimensions, using computer software.

The software allows artists to create 3D models of objects, characters, and environments. These 3D models are then rigged, animated, and rendered to create the final product.

3D is very technical and you have lots of other elements to consider outside of just animating: modeling, rigging, lighting, rendering, cameras, etc. And all of these things can break or run into issues…

The importance of 3D animation lies in its ability to create visually stunning and engaging content that can captivate audiences and effectively communicate complex ideas.

It is used extensively in film, television, video games, advertising, and education, among other industries.

How to choose the best 3D Animation Software?

Given that different software has different features, usabilities, and prices, it is imperative that you are aware of the program you acquire.

Some animation software is best suited to building games while others are suited to creating cartoons. So the best choice depends on the type of work you want to create.

Pixar, Rockstar, Epic Games and more all have their own approach to animation. Learn what the pros use, If you want to join these companies.

Of course, the cost is another important factor. Being a beginner you may not want to spend a lot on animation software.

10 Best 3D Animation Software in 2024

Are you a professional looking for the best premium 3D animation software, or an amateur seeking the best free option? There will be always suitable software in the list below for your choice.

Please note that the 3D animation software below demands high configuration computers to use, Otherwise you may experience frequent crashes.

1. Autodesk Maya

Autodesk Maya Software for 3D Animation

Autodesk products are considered the industry standard for 3D animation. Maya is owned by Autodesk and it’s used for creating 3D Animated movies, Games, Television and also 3D Effects in Live entertainment.

Its powerful tools and features make it a favorite among professionals in the industry. It is utilized by top companies and studios worldwide. You have almost certainly seen work created using it.

It was the main tool used for production of movies such as Transformers, Avatar, Harry Potter, TV series like Game of Thrones, and games like the Halo series.

Maya has a comprehensive set of powerful tools for 3D modeling, texturing, animation, dynamics, and visual effects, enabling artists to bring their creative ideas to life.

Polygon modeling enables you to create 3D models using geometry based on vertices, edges, and faces. NURBs modeling allows you to build 3D models from geometric primitives, and drawn curves.

Another cool feature is the Ghosting Editor which enables you to see the exact movement and position of animated objects over time.

It also has a robust system for character rigging and animation, allowing for the creation of highly detailed and expressive characters.

The software also includes a variety of simulation tools for creating realistic effects such as fluids, cloth, hair, and fur.

The user interface is highly customizable, it’s easy to build shortcuts that help improve work efficiency. Advanced creators also can add scripts and plugins (like the well-known Bifrost and Arnold) to customize the experience to their unique needs.

One of the challenges with Maya is its steep learning curve. The software has so many features that it can be overwhelming for beginners.

Luckily, The software’s vast community offers tutorials, forums, and support, making it easier to troubleshoot any issues you encounter while using it.

Maya is expensive when compared to the alternatives in the industry, but it is far really well worth buying and attempting your hand on the application.

Compatibility: The software has versions for Windows and MacOS.

Pricing: A Standard plan enables single-user access and is $235/month. In addition, All the students and educators can get one year free access to Autodesk Maya.

2. Autodesk 3DS Max

Autodesk 3ds Max Software for 3D Animation

Autodesk’s 3DS Max puts a stronger focus on 3D modeling and rendering than Maya. Animation, game development, architectural visualizations, and visual effects are all common uses for this program.

It comws with polygon, subdivision surface, and spline-based modeling characteristics, it can produce parametric and organic shapes.

You can also generate images via several rendering systems like the Renderman and V-ray. 3d renders made in the software are very realistic and high quality. Difficult to identify real or software.

3DS Max contains comprehensive 3D Animation capabilities, including Separate character Animations. The Character Studio helps you create bipedal characters, while the CAT tool lets you rig and animate non-human characters.

Both Tools also provide customizable ready-made character rigs. These rigs can be skinned with the Skin or Physique modifiers and are suitable with motion capture file formats.

Furthermore, Well-developed animation instruments make it possible to simulate various scenarios and physical states of objects. This includes a cloth-simulation engine, particle and light simulation, and even a scripting language (MAXScript).

If you aspire to produce mind-blowing results, take advantage of effects and configurable real-time camera viewpoints. Thanks to geometrical referencing, you can easily move objects along different trajectories.

If the software doesn’t have the tools or function you require, you can add third-party modules to the program through its plugin system.

Compatibility: It is only compatible with Windows OS.

Pricing: The price of a monthly 3ds Max subscription is $235 . Students and educators can get free one-year educational access to 3DS Max.

3. Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D Software for 3D Animation

Maxon’s Cinema 4D is a valuable tool for both novice and experienced 3D modeling and animation professionals.

It offers various features and tools for modelling, sculpting, texturing, lighting, animation, and rendering. You can handle various tasks, from simple 3D modelling to complex visual effects.

Cinema 4D has an intuitive and easy-to-use user interface that makes the 3D animation process more accessible to users, regardless of their level of experience.

Motion graphics is the strongest suit of this software. The animation abilities are extensive, there are several tools that help to make your characters move.

BodyPaint tool allows you to easily edit textures of your models and the Character Object tool simplifies rigging the characters. Finishing a render using redshift engine will complete the experience as it should be.

Plus, Its unique MoGraph module gives motion designers the tone ability to quickly and easily create complex animations with only a couple of keyframes. the integration with After effects is also awesome.

A handy timeline window gives you greater control with tracks for every animatable parameter and options like layers to organize and control the visibility of objects, tracks, and keyframes.

You can also Use Cinema 4D’s effectors, tags, and expressions to animate without keyframes.

The software has an object library, which means you don’t have to purchase 3D files separately. Once you purchase the app you are given a free membership to their training site, Cineversity.

While Cinema 4D has a wide range of built-in tools, some advanced features and specialised workflows may require additional third-party plugins, which can add to the overall cost.

The software as a whole if you compare it to something like ‘Maya’ will appear to be less powerful in some ways, but it is more fast and Easy to use.

Compatibility: Cinema 4D is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Pricing: You can license Cinema 4D in a number of ways. On its own, Cinema 4D costs $94 per month or $719 per year.

4. Houdini

Houdini Software for 3D Animation

Created by a Toronto-based company, SideFX, Houdini is a 3D animation software that’s famous for being used in animation productions like Zootopia, Frozen, and Rio, along with many others.

It’s famous for being used in animation productions like Zootopia, Frozen, Rio, and the great game, The Long Dark.

With Houdini’s procedural modeling method, you can quickly create complicated geometries with a continuous degree of quality.

Almost anything can be produced, from intricately detailed terrain maps to various spaceship passageways.

The node-based workflow is consistent throughout the program, you can modify specific parameters to change the entire model.

Mantra rendering engine is very powerful and gives great results with a little tweaking.

Its VFX capabilities offer a wide range of features for fluid simulation, particle systems and more. This helps in creating high-quality visual effects for films and games.

Its Rigid Body Dynamics (RBD) is a very powerful tool that can be used for object collisions and takes Houdini’s ability to create and handle simulations to another level.

It also provides scripting and programming interfaces, such as Python and VEX, enabling users to extend and customize the software to suit their specific needs.

Houdini demands technical knowledge and a background in programming and mathematics. Creating basic animation may require more steps and technical knowledge than other software.

Industry Studios will usually use a tool like Maya to handle the modeling. Houdini will be used to merge complex simulated effects within already existing movie scenes and animations.

Compatibility: It is available for Windows, Macos and Linux.

Pricing: There are different versions of Houdini and their prices vary. starting from $269 per year.

There also have a partially limited version called Houdini Apprentice, which is free of charge for non-commercial use.

5. Modo

Modo Software for 3D Animation

Foundry’s Modo is a complete 3d suite that delivers a complete modeling, texturing, rendering and animation workflow.

A variety of professionals use Modo, from video game developers to product designers. It was used in the production of feature films such as Stealth, Ant Bully, Iron Man, and Wall-E.

Modo is known for its intuitive and accessible interface, yet it still has all the tools you need to create high-quality art. It has quick loading times, and numerous add-ons and plugins as well.

The animation workflow consists of creating your model, adding a camera and lights, and adding keyframes in your timeline with the key poses of your character. Then, Modo is able to interpolate the frames in-between to obtain a smooth animation.

Animation tools draw inspiration from 2D animation workflows. There is a spacing chart and onion skinning. Working with audio files is as direct as it gets – they can be displayed in a separate window, which significantly simplifies lip syncing your models.

Additive layers, channel modifiers and constraints are available, as well as various deformers and an inverse kinematics solver.

Modelling in Modo is a little different from other modelling software because it combines polygon and subdivision surface modelling, brush-supported sculpting, and procedural modelling all in the same environment. This makes the modelling process flow easily.

Lighting, shading and rendering and scene setup is a blast. Modo users praise its rendering capabilities because it uses very vibrant colours, with high quality and complex textures.

Modo may lack the high-end dynamics and simulation tools you find in a program like Maya, but it holds its own and can certainly get the job done for novice and mid-level animators.

Compatibility: Modo can be installed on Windows, Apple, and Linux machines.

Pricing: MODO’s subscription costs $719 a year or $71 a month. The Foundry also offers a free educational license for students.

6. Blender

Blender software for 3d animation

Blender is free and open-source 3d animation software used to create studio-quality 3D content. Some of its features are available only in the paid versions of the advanced animation software.

Many designers use the program, including for creating notable and famous projects. Blender has been used for creating visual effects, movies, cartoons, video games, and other things.

Blender is a complete package where modeling, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, motion tracking, video editing and more are available.

It has an OpenGL-based user interface, which offers a seamless experience. The Python API makes it possible to modify the user interface for simple navigation.

It has an array of modeling tools, allowing you to easily create, edit, and transform your models.

Blender comes with a built-in path tracer engine, Cycles, that provides realistic and stunning CPU and GPU rendering.

It also has a production-ready camera and object tracking. This helps you track the footage, import raw footage, and see the camera movement in real-time.

When it comes to animation, Blender makes use of tools like shape animations, vertex weighting, armature, and inverse kinematics, along with so many others to allow intricate, detail-oriented animation.

The variety of features is truly impressive. Here you can perform 3D Unwrapping, Sharing, simulate Physics and Particles, enjoy real-time 3D/game creation, and more. There are also 2D&3D procedural brushes, collision simulation, and edge rendering.

Once you are done creating your animation, you can export it in numerous formats and even import them into game engines like Unity, Unreal, etc.

Even though Blender requires a steep learning curve for the beginners and will take a time to get hold of it, if they manage to use even 50% of its functionalities it will produce extraordinary results. Plus, It has many online tutorials and Animation Fundamentals.

Compatibility: Blender provides cross-platform functionality and available on Linux, Mac OS and Window.

Pricing: 100% free and open source

7. Daz Studio

Daz Studio Software for 3D Animation

Daz Studio is an easy to learn 3d software that is developed and distributed by Daz3D company for free. It allows you to create animations and scenes by manipulating various model presets.

This tool receives great marks for usability and tool exclusivity for animation. It is also easy to learn.

DAZ Studio has an extensive content marketplace where users can purchase additional 3D models and environments created by both DAZ 3D and independent artists.

You can also create a project from scratch by using one of the preset models and adjusting it to your taste. Daz Studio offers a bunch of instruments to customize every aspect of the base models.

The software uses a keyframe animation. As a working format, you can assign different positions to your model directly from the timeline so that the program generates the movements automatically.

The variety of animation-aimed tools is absolutely mind-blowing. You can use powerful tools for real-time editing and transition visualization.

By combining dForce physics technology, Genesis plugin, and the NVIDIA Iray render engine option, Daz 3D makes 3D creation, imagery, and animation fast, easy, sharp and more realistic.

Last but not the least, Daz 3D enables you to quickly transfer characters from its software to Maya for posing, rendering, and animating.

Compatibility: It is available for Windows and Mac.

Pricing: It’s free, but you have to pay to unlock more animation design features. Many features are unlocked by purchasing the Pro version of the program.

8. iClone 8

iClone 8 software for 3D Animation

iClone 8 is a popular character animation software developed by Reallusion. It was awarded as MegaGrant by Epic Games.

It is one of the fastest design tools which allows you to create professional animations for movies, animation, video games, content creation, art, and education.

With iClone, you can quickly and easily create photorealistic 3D models of characters, with the ability to modify their appearance to the tiniest details.

It’s jam-packed with powerful animation tools that allow you to combine characters, tell cinematic stories, and create superior scene designs.

It includes advanced tools for organic morphs, constraints and collisions, curve manipulation, and soft cloth and rigid body dynamics simulation.

You can control the production using a multi-camera system, scene and lighting set up, timeline editing, and more.

The software supports real-time rendering for a stable environment. It has real-time lighting and shadow effects for producing flawless animations.

iClone lets you export and import rigged motions, characters, props, scenes, and cameras. It also comes with several plug-ins to let you expand your arsenal of creative tools.

Thanks to Python’s assistance, creative users can now swiftly increase animation skills and attach custom gadgets to iClone.

iClone Runs very well on an ‘average’ computer, However, It may not have as many advanced features as some other animation software. This may limit what users can create.

Compatibility: Currently iClone 8 only supports Windows OS.

Pricing: With a perpetual license, it costs $599. The program is more affordable than other similar software on the market.

9. online software for 3D Animation is a full-featured cloud-based 3D modeling, animation and rendering software tool that runs in your web browser. gives you the ability to create 3d models from polygons, and has features like looping, cutting, beveling, slicing, and extrusion. It can also be used to develop solid geometric constructs.

Another great aspect of this software is that it comes with an extensive library of 3D models that you can use as starting points for your creations.

You can create animated movies on with its keyframe animation feature. The timeline feature allows you to have a deeper control over the process.

You can also create animations with wireframe skeletons in order to show movement across time and space.

The software can produce hierarchical graphs for each scene, and it can easily handle rendering with photorealistic imagery thanks to the integration of well-known V-Ray rendering engine.

To make the software even more comprehensive, it includes support for various APIs that handle plugins and scripting.

You can use to embed your 3d models or animations into your website, This can be quite useful and is a rather rare feature.

Being cloud-based, It might be one of the best tools for working on animation projects as a team. users can change the file or a scene and everything is synced between the accounts.

Compatibility: It can be used on Windows and Mac computers as it runs on your browser.

Pricing: can be used for free with 2 GB of public cloud storage and one hour of rendering per month.

There are 2 paid plans: $10.0 per month and $100.0 per month. The paid version offers you more storage space and unlimited private scenes and rendering time.

10. Cascadeur

Cascadeur software for 3D Animation

Released by the renowned game developer Nekki, Cascadeur is a Physics-based 3D animation software for creating movies and video games.

It has an intuitive and clean user interface, is easy to learn, and offers powerful functionality, which makes the difficult task of animating surprisingly easy and enjoyable.

Cascadeur offers advanced editing tools for keyframe editing, motion bending, and fine-tuning animations. So you can use to achieve the most realistic look for your animation.

The software is aimed at bringing physically correct animation to stunt-like actions, without the need for motion capture, although mocap can be plugged into the system.

You can take control of the main movement points to create poses and motion. The rest will be taken care of by AI. All the postures and body movements will be positioned automatically and adjusted to perfection.

It also comes with both editable mockups and a whole library full of templates to try out. Allows you to create flawless animations that just work without a lot of effort.

Cascadeur allows you to create custom scripts using the built-in scripting language. Plus, With the collaboration feature, users can work on animations as a team.

Cascadeur can be incorporated into the majority of currently used animation workflows. It supports the import and export of FBX/DAE data to other programs such as Maya, Unity, 3DS Max, Cinema4D, and others.

Compatibility: It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Pricing: The free basic version has the complete animation toolkit which is perfect for small business owners.

Cascadeur has 3 pricing plans, starting at $25 per user per month.


We hope the above list will help you find the perfect tool for your animation needs.

Every software has a few specific functions and gear that every other application can’t substitute. What you go with often comes down to budget, operating system and your tech skills.

Think about which features are most important to you and how you’re most likely to use animation software. It can be helpful to write a quick list of your top priorities, that way it’ll be easier to decide which animation software is best for you.

Many 3D animation software programs offer free trials. We highly recommend you try a few out to get an idea about how it’d look with your workflow.

Have you found the ideal option for your needs? Don’t forget to share it with me in the comments section below.


What is the best free 3d animation software?

Blender is widely considered to be the best free software for making 3D animations.

It supports entirely 2D and 3D pipelines including modeling, rigging, animation, rendering, compositing, and video editing.

Additionally there are some industry standard tools out there that have free learning editions such as Houdini, Nuke, Clarisse.

Can I do 3D animation without drawing?

While drawing skills can be a valuable asset in the world of 3D animation, they are not a strict requirement.

Many successful 3D animators can still make great animations without knowing how to draw.


Do you need a drawing tablet for 3D animation?

No, Generally you don’t need a graphics tablet for 3D animation.

3D animators aren’t normally drawing anything, they’re adjusting controls created by riggers. And, for the most part, that means there’s no big advantage to a drawing tablet.

But graphic tablet is still a must-have for anyone looking to simplify the tedious animation and drawing processes.

About the author : Clinton Kane

A technical content writer, passionate about sharing high-quality knowledge of pc technology, software, and creative workflows.