Best 3D Animation Software in 2021

3D animation tools use computer graphics to move virtual objects or characters in virtual 3-dimensional space. 3D modeling software is used to create 3d objects and the outer environment. Afterward, animation software is used to give motion to these virtual 3D objects. This article covers the best free and paid 3D animation software available in the market with their feature comparison this will help you in the selection of the best 3d animation software for your application.

Best 3D Animation Software

From beginners to professionals, free to paid, the following is the list of best animation software available in the market.

SoftwareOperating SystemCostSupported Formats
Blender
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
Free3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, lwo, svg, ply, stl, vrml, vrml97, x3d
3DS Max
  • Windows
$1700 / Yearstl, 3ds, ai, abc, ase, asm, catproduct, catpart, dem, dwg, dxf, dwf, flt, iges, ipt, jt, nx, obj, prj, prt, rvt, sat, skp, sldprt, stp, vrml, w3d xml
Autodesk Maya
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
1700 / Yearai, aiff, dae, dxf, dwg, eps, fbx, maya, mel, obj, stl
KeyShot
  • Windows
  • MacOS
$1995.3ds, .dwg, .dxf, .3dxml, .cgr, .catpart, .c4d, .prt, .asm, .pvz, .pvs, .edz, .ed, .c3di, .ol, .ipt, .iam, .ma, .mb, .prt, .prt, .asm, .3dm, .skp, .par, .asm, .psm, .prt, .sldprt, .asm, .sldasm, .sat, .abc, .3ds, .3dxml, .dae, .fbx, .igs, .iges, .jt, .obj, .x_t, .stp, .step, .stl, .zpr
Cinema 4D
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
~$120 /month3ds, dae, dem, dxf, dwg, x, fbx, iges, lwf, rib, skp, stl, wrl, obj
Motion Builder
  • Windows
  • Linux
1950 /yearasf, amc, bvh, c3d, fbx, htr, tr3
Unity
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
Free.fbx, .obj., .max,.blend, .skp
Modo
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
$1909lwo, abc, obj, pdb, 3dm, dae, fbx, dxf, x3d, geo, stl
Clara.ioCloud BasedFree3dm, 3ds, cd, dae, dgn, gf, gdf, gts, igs, kmz, lwo, rws, obj, off, ply, pm, sat, scn, skp, slc, sldprt, stp, stl, x3dv, xaml, vda, vrml, x_t, x, xgl, zpr
Daz 3D
  • Windows
  • MacOS
Freeobj, fbx, dae, daz
Boats Animator
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
Free
(Open Source)
avi, mov, mpg
Houdini
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
$4495
(Free Version Available)
bgeo, clip, fbx, geo, hip
K-3D
  • Windows
  • MacOS
Free
(Source code Available)
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Blender is the free and open-source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline. Major features of Blender software includes:

  • Supports Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • Free and Open Source
  • 3D CAD modeling
  • Rigging
  • Animation
  • Simulation
  • Rendering
  • Compositing and motion tracking
  • Video editing
  • 2D animation
  • Python API for scripting and customization.

3ds Max is one of the best commercial animation software available in the market. It offers rich and flexible tools to create premium designs with full aesthetics control for design visualization, games, and animation. It has the following features

  • Modeling and texturing
  • Animation and Rendering
  • Workflow and Pipeline
  • Visualize high-quality architectural renderings
  • Model finely detailed interiors and objects
  • Bring characters and features to life with animation and VFX

Maya from Autodesk is one of the best 3D animation software with a customizable user interface. It can be used to create expensive worlds, complex characters, and dazzling effects. Autodesk Maya comes with the following features:

  • Bring believable characters to life with engaging animation tools.
  • Shape 3D objects and scenes with intuitive modeling tools.
  • Model complex objects like fur, hair, clothing, fluids, and particles.
  • Create realistic effects
  • 3D models in Maya are represented by nodes that specify their relationships and attributes.
  • Sophisticated CG compositing program such as Match-Mover to combine 3D rendered elements with motion data set by tracking the camera’s movement.
  • Pipeline integration using Python 3.

KeyShot is a widely used visualization tool for design and engineering professionals to present new concepts, design reviews, digital prototypes, and create visuals for marketing and sales teams. It comes with some of the following features and capabilities on both Mac and PC operating systems.

  • Easy User Interface
  • CPU Ray Tracing (with GPU Mode)
  • Library for 3D Models, Materials and HDRI Environments
  • Axalta Paints / Mold-Tech Textured Plastics / Pantone / RAL / CIE Lab Colors
  • KeyShot Animation with Custom Motion Ease
  • Curve Fade Animation
  • Geometry Viewer / Geometry Editor
  • NURBS Ray Tracing / Re-Tessellate
  • Panoramic Camera (Cube Map, Spherical)
  • Real-Time VR Rendering / Viewing
  • Python Scripting
  • Export to ZPR / STL / OBJ / FBX

Cinema 4D is a professional 3D modeling, simulation, rendering, and 3D animation software. Its fast, powerful, flexible, and stable toolset make 3D workflows more accessible and efficient for design, motion graphics, VFX, AR/MR/VR, game development, and all types of visualization professionals. This 3d animation software comes with the following features.

  • Polygonal Parametric, and Volume Modeling
  • Sculpting, poly pen, and polygon reduction
  • Texturing and rendering
  • Car rig, control rig, toon rig, and character animation
  • Simulation and Tracking etc.

Motionbuilder is a professional one of the best available professional 3D animation software that produces high-quality 3D character animations with pre-built moves. You can capture, edit, and playback complex animations with MotionBuilder 3D character animation software. This animation software comes with the following features.

  • Create realistic character movements.
  • Fine-tune character animations with production-proven tools used to manipulate motion capture data.
  • Included software development kit and FBX data exchange enable easy interoperability with other 3D applications.

Unity is one of the most popular development platforms for creating 2D and 3D interactive real-time content. This 3D content is used for 2D, 3D Virtual reality, and augmented reality apps for interactive gaming, shopping, and other experiences.

Modo is a creative 3D modeling, rendering, texturing and 3D animation software used by artists to explore and develop ideas without having deep technical knowledge. This animation software includes features such as Polygon and subdivision surface modeling, Particle engine, and Procedural animation.

Clara.io is a cloud-based free 3D animation, 3D modeling, and rendering software that runs in a web browser. Therefore with Clara.io you can make complex 3D models, create beautiful photorealistic renderings, and share them without installing any software programs. Clara.io comes with the following features.

  • Powerful Modeling tool
  • VRay Cloud Rendering
  • Scripting, Plugins + REST API
  • Collaboration + Versioning

Daz 3D is a free 3D animation software with a 3D content marketplace where you can buy and sell your models. This animation software is preliminarily used by hobbyists. It comes with the following features.

  • A smart content library of free and premium 3D content, like characters, hair, creatures, vehicles, environments etc.
  • Import from Daz Studio directly into Maya, Blender, Cinema 4D, 3ds Max, Unreal & Unity.

Boats animator is easy to learn, free, and open-source stop motion animation software. It comes with the following features.

  • Using the instant playback feature, you can instantly preview your captured frames with Boats Animator. There is no need to wait for the frames to process.
  • The onion Skinning feature helps keep your animations smooth by showing you a translucent version of the last image captured.
  • Boats Animator supports high-resolution frame capture, including 1080p and beyond! It’s also simple to switch between multiple connected devices for multi-camera shoots.

Houdini is one of the popular game development and 3D animation software that empowers artists to work freely, create multiple iterations and rapidly share workflows with colleagues. It has a node-based workflow where every action is stored in a node. These nodes are then “wired” into networks which define a “recipe” that can be tweaked to refine the outcome then repeated to create similar yet unique results.

K-3D is easy-to-use, open-source free animation software. It combines flexible plugins with a visualization pipeline architecture, making K-3D a versatile and powerful tool for artists.

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