Animation Hardware and Software Requirements for Students

Animation Hardware and Software Requirements for Students

Students need decent Animation hardware and software to set them up for success. Even if you are talented, you still need to use the best tools to produce good results. Using low-quality equipment or software leads to poor production. Animation has become important in various industries because it enhances learning, marketing, and entertainment. Therefore, the production must meet the industry standards to prevail in this highly competitive market. This article will cover all the animation hardware and software you need to use as a student.

Hardware Requirements


If you are an animator, you need to navigate comfortably and quickly render off through the scenes. Thanks to technology, laptops have advanced in recent years. They are powerful in handling 2D and 3D animation apps such as Blender, Maya, After Effects, and others. In addition, they provide enough RAM, recent multi-core processors, and graphic cards. Besides that, the portable machines have excellent speakers and screens to make your work easier. Therefore, it’s important to choose a laptop with certain parts and specifications to ensure maximum performance.

Here are the recommended features for an animation computer.

  • Display: A screen resolution of 1080p is enough. 4k displays are way expensive, but they are the best option. On the other hand, the size should be bigger to view more details. Avoid 13″ PCs.
  • RAM: 8GB RAM for newbie students while 16-32 GB for larger projects.
  • Storage: opt for Solid State Drive for everyone (SSDs) with at least 1TB storage. (Quality animation occupies a large space).
  • CPU: 64bit, six cores, and above for fast rendering
  • Graphics: Consider dedicated graphics with at least 2GB of RAM
  • Processing Speed: 2.5GHZ and above
  • Operating System: macOS 10, 12, and later versions or Windows 10+. Most animation software support only these two types of operating systems

Drawing Tablet

Drawing tablets are specialized devices designed for drawing objects. Most current versions are portable and are accompanied by a stylus for drawing. Once you finish drawing, you can export the image to animation software for editing using Bluetooth, USB, or wifi. Drawing tablets are light and feature an ergonometric design.

Animation involves a lot of drawing. Rather than drawing the traditional way, you can use a drawing tablet. If you already have a normal tablet or an iPad, you can install a drawing application to get started. I highly recommend choosing tablets that support stylus pens to make drawing easier.

A Stylus Pen

This is an important piece of hardware when it comes to animation. Many animation programs will allow you to draw characters and backgrounds manually. A stylus is more accurate and easy to use. The key factor to consider when choosing a stylus is the battery life. If you are going to spend a lot of time drawing characters, you need a stylus that can last long.

A mouse with Customizable buttons

Most Animation editing software will allow you to set shortcuts. This is not compulsory, but it’s a great addition to making your work simple. Customizing your mouse’s shortcuts allows you to perform certain actions quickly, improving your editing experience.

Software Requirements

1. OpenToonz

Price: Free

Platform: Linux, Windows, and Mac

OpenToonz is an open-source 2D animation program. It was launched initially as a paid software from 1993 until 2016 under the brand name Toonz. The prefix “open” was added for free and open source. This is one of the best animation programs students can use for 2D animation. It is a very powerful tool that makes use of Flash scripting language. Additionally, it comes with an easy-to-use interface and robust features for generating or editing backgrounds. This software customizable highlights, shapes, gradients, backgrounds, and a lot more

The 2D animation engine allows you to effortlessly import videos and convert them to animated movies. One of the features that stands out in this tool is the clipping mask. This feature allows you to make characters move in slow motion

2. Autodesk 3ds Max

Price: $1700/year

Platform: Windows

Autodesk 3ds Max is a multipurpose Graphics software. You can use it to make 3d animations, images models, and games. This software is developed and actively updated by Autodesk Media and Entertainment. Autodesk 3ds max offers a great opportunity for students to create professional 3d animations. It comes with all the features you need and has a simple learning curve. However, you need to have a windows computer to use Autodesk 3ds Max. Architectural visualization studios, TV commercial studios, and video game developers use this software. Additionally, it’s a popular tool for movie pre-visualization and effects.

3. Blender

Price: Free and Open Source

Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, Haiku, NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, DragonFly

Blender is a free graphics program developed and managed by Blender Foundation and the Community. Since its open-source, the community actively monitor the code to fix bug and suggest improvements. Blender creates visual effects, animated films, interactive 3D applications, 3D printed models, art, computer games, and virtual reality. With the rise of Metaverse games and applications, Blender is a great tool for students to join the trend. It’s free, which means students who do not afford SaaS can still produce professional animations. Besides, it comes with high-quality features thanks to the Blender community.

4. Adobe Animate

Price: $24.14 per month

Platforms: macOS 10, 12, Windows 10 v 1703 and later versions,

Adobe Animate is a popular computer animation and multimedia authoring software developed by Adobe Inc. This program is used across various industries. It is good at designing animation and vector graphics for web applications, television series, websites, online animations, commercials, and game development. Additionally, it supports rich text, raster graphics, Action scripting, and audio-video embedding. The main reason why Adobe animate is one of the best programs is that it allows users to publish animations in WebGL, HTML5, Adobe AIR, SWF, and SVG animation formats. This feature allows animators to publish their content to a wide variety of platforms. You can use Adobe animate to design interactive animations for the web, games, or TV shows. There is no better way for students to learn animation than using professional tools. It helps prepare them quickly for the professional market.

5. Pencil (2D)

Price: Free and Open source

Platforms: macOS, Linux, and Windows

Pencil 2D is free 2D animation software. You can use it to create animated scenes by drawing characters. Since it is an open-source platform, the community actively improves its features and capabilities. AS a result, it has evolved to become one of the best free animation tools.

One of its popular features is switching between vector and raster workflows seamlessly. The minimalist design and easy-to-use features make it a great tool for students. They can focus on creating animations rather than spend the most time working through complex features. You can save animations in Pencil 2D format or APNG, WebM, MP4, or formats. If you are looking to create animations the traditional way using onion skinning and tracing drawings, this is the right software for you. Apart from making cartoons, you can also use this software to manage bitmap and vector drawings.

6. DigiCel FlipBook

Price: Starting at $19.99

Platforms: Mac and Windows

Digicel Flipbook is a traditional frame-by-frame 2D animation software. It is dubbed the easiest 2D animation software available on the market. This makes it a great choice for beginners, especially students that wish to learn animations from a traditional perspective. The best feature about this tool is that it allows users to draw on its platform or scan their paper drawings. Some artists love drawing on paper than on screen; hence this can be a great advantage. Additionally, you can use Digicel Flipbook to create stop motion animations. This is an easy-to-use yet powerful traditional 2d animation software.

7. Powtoon

Price: basic features are free. Pro plan costs $19/month

Platforms: Web

Powtoon is an online animation platform. This means you can use any device regardless of its operating system to create animations with Powtoon. It is one of the easiest software to learn. Therefore it is a good fit for beginners and students. This software is suitable for creating animated presentations. Its drag and drop features make it easy for anyone to create appealing visual presentations. After dragging and dropping images, Powtoon compiles them and creates a presentation automatically.

8. Aseprite

Price: $19.99

Platforms: Windows, Linux, and macOS

Aseprite is an image editor mainly used for animation and pixel art drawing. It is developed and actively maintained by Igara studios. Aseprite is open-source software that allows users to review its code and suggest changes to fix bugs or improve features. The project is hosted on Github under the EULA license.

Aseprite is one of the best pixel art and animation for beginners. There are thousands of tutorials available online on how to use this tool. It offers a free trial for you to try before making a purchase. If you want to create your first professional animation fast as a beginner, then Aseprite is the best option. Additionally, you can use it to create sprites, 2D animations, and game graphics. You can export the final file in different formats, such as GIF.

9. Synfig Studio

Price: Free and Open source

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux

Synfig Studio is a vector-based 2D animation program. It is free and open-source, making it one of the top animation tools for students. Synfig makes the animation process easy by replacing manual tweening with an automatic process. Creating intermediate frames can consume a lot of time, resources, and many people to finish the job. But with Synfig, you can create a quality film with fewer people and resources thanks to automatic tweening.

Synfig Studio is an open-source platform that allows its community to make contributions. You can learn the perks quickly and create your first professional 2D animation program for free. It comes with diverse features that make the process simple and high quality at the same time. You can apply real-time effects such as color shades, control width lines and simulate soft shading. Besides, there are many resources and tutorials available online on using this software.

10. Cinema 4D

Price: $2.99/month for teachers and students

Platforms: AmigaOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux

Cinema 4d is a commercial 3D animation software suitable for beginners and experienced animators. It has partnered with Adobe After effects to introduce some of its features. The partnership consists of only introductory features from Adobe After effects. This means you can switch in between the two software seamlessly.

Cinema 4D offers fast and flexible toolsets that make 3D animation easy.     You can use this platform to model, animate, simulate and render your graphics. The best part is that you can export your project in various formats. In addition, you can import vector art from SVG, illustrator, or PDF files. Game developers can also create characters, animations, and backgrounds.

11. Adobe After effects

Price: $20.99/month, Free Trial

Platforms: Windows 10 64 bit only, and macOS 10, Sierra, or later versions.

Adobe after effects is cross-platform and multipurpose graphics editing software. It is used to create motion graphics, visual effects, computer animation, and compositing. It is used in the post-production of professional filmmaking, television production, and video games. You can use it for compositing, tracking keying, and animation.

Adobe after effects is an ideal software for both beginners and professional animators. Use this software to lean and create industry-standard animations. The community has created many tutorials and courses to help you get started. Additionally, it integrates seamlessly with other editing softwares to help import or export your projects.

12. Krita

Price: Free

Platforms: Linux, Windows, and Mac

Krita is a great option for beginners in the animation, illustration, and drawing industries. It’s easy to learn and produces spectacular results. Krita integrates various drawing tools and brushes that allow users to make quality animations. You can use this software to create backgrounds and characters. Krista integrates a drag and drops feature to import objects instantaneously.

Final Thoughts

The Global animation industry is estimated to be worth $354.7 billion. It is rapidly growing, and experts predict that it will hit 642.5 billion by the end of 2030. This fact alone is enough reason to learn animation. We have listed the equipment and software you can use to learn and grow your animation career.

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