Skip to main content

Six D.I.Y. Video Animation Tools


Can't draw or animate to save your life but want to create cartoons or explainer videos? Here's a list of six do it yourself animation sites/tools that are worth a look and you can try for free - no drawing skills required.

Before we start I will admit I've barely used any of these sites except for GoAnimate, so don't expect in depth reviews. The best I can do is give you my initial impression, ask you to watch their video and then go and try them all for yourself. I may do proper reviews at a future date.

GoAnimate

I'm a big supporter of GoAnimate which has been around since 2008 and allows you t create short, 2D cartoon animations using their library of thousands of characters, props, backgrounds and more. It's the leading site in its field and is being continuously refined with improvements.

What makes GoAnimate stand out from the competition is that it can keep up with your growth as an animator and film maker. You can get some very professional looking results sticking with the content available but if you want to branch out and start animating your own characters and props using flash animation software you can. Import these back into GoAnimate and take advantage of how easy their studio is to use as well as still having access to their extensive library.

GoAnimate has evolved into a site promoted heavily for business explainer video creation but coming through it's initial hobby animator route it includes several character themes ideal for story telling including Anime, stick figures, Lil' Peepz, Politics and more.

For all round versatility and ease of use it can't be beaten.



Powtoon

Powtoon is best suited for explainer videos rather than story telling, unless you want to tell stories in a presentation style.

Their studio is kind of like Microsoft Power Point with a cooler library of clip art and more features geared towards animated presentations. If you just want to create videos with graphics that fly in and out of each scene Powtoon is a great option that's a little less complex than GoAnimate.



Wideo

Much like Powtoon, Wideo is best suited to explainer videos. Its studio takes a similar approach to Powtoon using the familiar Power Point slide approach. Its library of pre-made props, characters and backgrounds isn't quite as extensive as Powtoons given it's a newer player in the field but what's there is pretty unique so you might choose Wideo on that basis alone.



Moovly

Moovly is another recent entry to the animated video explainer market. Like the others it has a library of pre existing and animated content at your disposal. Creating animations using a more traditional approach of working around key frames on the studio's timeline.

Just like Wideo its content library isn't that extensive yet but it does have a few unique styles that no other site really has. For example Moovly has the most convincing animated, whiteboard marker, drawing arm I've seen yet.



Video Rascal

If you have a thing for animated text explainer videos then Video Rascal may be for you. Although it only seems to have two templates it looks like there are plans for more. Creating a video is a very easy step by step process where the most difficulty you'll have is planning exactly how to layout your text so it looks good with the template you've chosen.

You could probably do everything Video Rascal can do in GoAnimate, Powtoon, Wideo and Moovly but not anywhere near as quick. It's not that pretty just yet but with more templates and development it could be the go-to site for text based explainer animations.



Plotagon

Plotagon s a little different but familiar to those of you that may remember Xtranormal (which shut down earlier in 2013). In a nutshell it's 3D animation software that you can download and use to create animated short films just by typing in your script.

At the moment the quality of the finished animated movies make Xtranormal's platform look like it characters could act Shakespeare plays convincingly but I'm sure Plotagon will get better with further development.

Unfortunately Plotagon is a huge download (over 800MB) and I have to say I was pretty disappointed by its limitations. Again Xtranormal's desktop software, Slate, was a smaller download with greater abilities.

On the plus side the 3D is more realistic than Xtranormal and the interface is set out almost exactly like how you would format a screen play.

Currently it may be more useful as a pre-visualization tool, since the software chooses the optimum camera angles for you based on established film making principles. If you were making a live action film you could use the chosen camera angles as a guide for your live action camera placements.





I'm sure there are other sites out there - please let me know of any free sites within the comments and I may feature them in a future post.

Personally I would recommend GoAnimate to you every time but I would suggest you at least try the others, as I've become so accustomed to GoAnimate's studio that everything else tends to be quite limiting. If you're coming to these sites with no prior experience you may prefer some of the simpler studios in comparison to GoAnimate's highly evolved offering.

Popular posts from this blog

Featured Animator: Christian Haynes - 'Zack In Time' An Original, Independent, Animated Series on the Rise

Christian Haynes - Zack In Time.  If you've ever wanted to create an animated TV series staring your own original characters and stories then Los Angeles based writer, director, and animator, Christian Haynes is taking those next steps of putting together a team, developing a pitch/trailer for their series, Zack In Time. Featuring professional studio quality animation, they hope the show will get picked up by an animation studio for an official series. The path he and his team are taking is one you could easily follow as they deal with real life commitments, and building a following on Instagram and Tik-Tok showcasing their work behind the scenes. TET: Tell me a little about yourself. Who you are, and why you started animating? My name is Christian Haynes and I've loved animation ever since I was a kid. I would constantly be drawing cartoon characters from TV shows and movies and making my own little homemade comic strips.  As I got older, I became a lot more interested in st

Reallusion Releases Cartoon Animator 5 - One Version, More Features, Lower Price!

If you're serious about producing 2D animation as quickly as possible, while still achieving professional results, Reallusion's Cartoon Animator 5 makes the most compelling case yet as your animation studio/tool of choice. Cartoon Animator's point of difference has always been its ease of use and accelerated workflow. Creating fast, 2D animation using puppet, bone rigged based characters and props, on a stage with 3D depth for easy scene parallax effects. As it has developed Reallusion has incorporated more advanced features like motion capture for both face and body as well as being able to export scenes to post production tools like After Effects with the addition of plugins. After moving away from Flash based vector image support for a few years, Reallusion is back with full .SVG (scalable vector graphics) support for resolution independent graphics. They've also added Spring Dynamic physics and Full Form Deformation tools, both of which make it ridiculously easy t

Shotcut - Free Open Source Video Editor for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Shotcut Open Source Video Editor. I've been on the hunt for a while now for the best, free, open source, video editing application out there. In Shotcut , by Meltytech , which has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, I think I may have found a real front runner. This won't be a feature filled review, rather it will be my first impressions after having used Shotcut on a few of my YouTube videos so far. One of my key criteria for a video editor is the ability to import any video format directly into the project. This may seem like an odd focus initially but having convert video to something your video editor can use is annoyingly time consuming, and it creates a new generation of footage, potentially with a loss in quality if you don't really know much about video format specs (that's this guy right here!). Shotcut will happily work with my OBS recordings (.FLV), and .MOV, .MP4 files that I get from two different cameras. Not only that but Shotcut doesn't hold me up

Make Disney/Pixar Style Characters with Reallusion's Character Creator and Toon Figure Bases

The Extraordinary Tourist Classic Coat outfit created using Reallusion's Toon Designer for CC3. I've talked before how I've wanted to get into 3D Disney/Pixar style character animation since I first saw the animated cutscenes for the very first Tomb Raider game back in 1996. It's why I initially bought Reallusion's iClone 3D studio app as soon as I could afford a computer that would run it. But then Reallusion released their 3D Character Creator (CC) for iClone and I wanted to create my characters with that (and I did try with Bat Storm ). But the focus of CC was realism, even with ToKoMotion's stylised body morphs . Now with Reallusion's Cartoon Designer bundle for CC3 which features two packs, Toon Figures , and Toon Hair , designing Disney/Pixar style 3D characters just got a whole lot quicker. The two packs are the bare essentials for creating Toon style characters. Five body morphs (2 male, 2 female, and one adolescent body morph that w

Eric W. Schwartz: Cartoonist, Animator and Amiga Die Hard

July 1992 Edition, CU Amiga Featuring Amy the Squirrel. American Cartoonist, Eric W. Schwartz , (whose unofficial Amiga Icon, Amy the Squirrel, is pictured on the July 92 edition of CU Amiga cover on the right) is my only real animation hero. Sure there are the big names like Disney , Chuck Jones , Tex Avery and even Preston Blair whose influences can all be seen in my own cartoons but Eric did what none of the others could. He showed that really great 2D computer animation was within my reach with little more than an Amiga Computer , a copy of Deluxe Paint and Moviesetter . This was at a time when computer based animation was in its infancy (outside of computer game animation) and Flash was something that lights did. There were many great Amiga artists but Eric was really the only one consistently making very funny, traditional style animations. His humor and drawing style is heavily influenced by classic Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons but he managed to build on this,

TimeBolt: Fast Video Editing for Anyone Creating Online Courses, Podcasts, or Vlogs.

I resisted making tutorial videos for a long time because I don't like editing. Specifically I don't like editing me teaching as I step students through a process during a screen record. I have a tendency to insert long pauses not just in the middle of sentences but between multiple words in the middle of sentences as my pace matches what I'm doing onscreen. This makes for very long and very slow paced video tutorials. To counteract this I have to edit out all the pauses. This can take hours, or even days on particularly long tutorials. For example, when I created my main course, The Lazy Animator Beginner's Guide to Cartoon Animator , I literally injured the thumb on my right hand, operating my mouse, as I spent weeks taking out all my pauses (seriously, I had to wear a thumb brace for a few weeks to fix the pain). Recently I came across TimeBolt , a very affordable, fast editing application with the featured purpose of removing all the pauses from your video (and even

Review: Headshot Plugin for Reallusion's Character Creator 3

Headshot for CC3. Quite possibly the best 3D Avatar I've made of myself in any 3D application. Creating a realistic 3D human avatar is a whole lot easier with Reallusion's new Headshot Plugin for Character Creator 3. The plugin is an AI powered extension that can generate 3D digital humans from one photo. Which sounds like an amazing proposition but, in practice, if you're trying to achieve a specific likeness to an actual person, Headshot will give you an excellent base to work from. Headshot has two modes, Auto and Pro. Auto Mode Auto is well worth a try if you have an ideal photo of a front facing person that is properly lit and posed to Headshot's optimum requirements. It's also the only mode that will take a crack at generating a hair model. I grabbed an image of Harrison Ford, dragged it into Headshot without changing any of the default settings (other than specifying 'male' and selecting an 'old male' setting) and this is what I