The quality of 3D animations has continued to develop over the past three decades, with old classics like the original Toy Story paving the way for all the future animated box office attractions to come after. As a result, many of us are interested in learning how to create these 3D animations, but which software is best suited to this task?
Many top companies will use their own in-house software to create 3D animations. However, other popular applications for creating 3D animations include Maya, Cinema 4D, and Blender 3D, to name a few. In addition to deciding which software is best for making 3D animations, you will need to determine the best rendering solutions when you complete those projects.
Before you decide which 3D application you want to use to begin creating your animations, there are a few criteria that you need to consider, including how easy it is to use. How fast it will be to learn and how expensive the software will be to license.
What Are The Options For Good 3D Animation Software?
There are numerous options out there for 3D animation software. These typically come in the form of 3D modeling applications with animation toolsets, so they allow you to create your models and then animate them using various toolsets, such as rigging, node editing, etc.
But while many applications allow you to create 3D models, not all of them possess these animation workflows. So below, we have compiled a shortlist of the 3D modeling applications that can also be used to create animations.
How Easy Is It To Create 3D Animations With These Applications?
Different 3D applications often use their own workflows for creating those animations, but there are certain principles that most applications follow.
Learning about the principles of animation can make it easier to improve your skillset regardless of the software you decide to use.
The learning process of 3D animation is easy to learn but hard to master. The basic concepts and toolsets allow you to create the most basic animations in minutes. But creating complex animations that behave perfectly in your scene can take a lot longer to achieve.
With the majority of applications, you will be using a keyframe system. Animation requires a start and end frame and at least one altered value between them. More keyframes can then be added to increase the complexity of the animation.
You can then use tools like graph editors and timelines to edit the positioning, behavior, and transition of these keyframes.
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How Expensive Is Animation Software?
There aren’t many alternatives available for 3D animation software. However, some of these options are free to download, such as Blender and Vectory.
Other animation applications require a monthly subscription to use. These can also take the form of slightly cheaper yearly subscriptions, although you will be locked into service for an entire year.
You also have some applications that have one-time payment fees. And surprisingly, these actually workouts quite a lot cheaper than the subscription models.
When you have to pay a subscription, you effectively buy the license or the right to use the software for commercial purposes.
This is the case when you purchase any Autodesk applications, for example, which offer various plans for licensing.
Maya, for example, can cost upwards of $1700 for a yearly license, and this fee is likely to increase rather than decrease in the future.
Another Autodesk application, 3DS Max, offers similar tall sets for modeling and animation to Maya and is valued at a similar cost.
By comparison, similar cinema 4D is a much cheaper alternative, although it is still expensive. A year’s license to use the software can again set you back up to $700.
Fortunately, not all options cost an arm and a leg, and there are plenty of free alternatives available.
Blender 3D is an example of free animation software, and there will never be a fee attached to it. There were also no licensing restrictions with Blender, so that you can use it for commercial purposes.
Clara.IO is an example of a browser-based animation application that offers a surprising list of features related to animation and rendering.
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How Can I Learn 3D Animation?
The first step to learning how to create animations is to start by learning the principles of animation itself.
To get started, we recommend looking at this video which covers the 12 principles of animation. Once you’ve understood the principles, you can then pick your software and begin learning the tools that will allow you to follow those principles.
Most applications will have some degree of educational content online, although some will have a greater depth of resources than others.
Vectory is a useful application for simple animations but lacks tutorial content outside of the simple getting started videos.
Blender and Maya, on the other hand, have an incredible number of learning resources making it easy to pick any aspect of those applications.
Because animations are such a creative and visual skill set, Youtube is a fantastic place to start your learning journey. We have a couple of tips for you as you learn animation.
- Do not learn from a single channel. Watch videos from multiple sources to gain different perspectives.
- Watch videos on the same topic from various Youtubers to increase your understanding of the topic.
- Do not copy what the tutor does action by action. Take the concepts from each video and try to do something original.
Which Application Is Easy To Use?
Your ability to learn how to create 3D animations can be divided into two factors. The first factor is the toolset used by the application. Are the tools intuitive and powerful enough to make the animations you want?
The second factor will be based on your understanding of exactly how to create your animations and follow the main principles of animation to create the best results.
That second factor is all about your ability to understand the principles of 3D animation and animation in general.
So instead, we’re going to focus on the first factor, which is the list of available tools for creating our animations.
Again, we can divide this up into two categories. The first category is how intuitive the user interfaces for accessing these tools, and then the second category will be on the depth of tools available.
Blender is an example of software that has a lot of animation tools built-in, including the use of rigs to prepare more complex objects and the ability to add keyframes to almost any editable value in Blender.
However, while Blender has an extensive suite of animation-based tools, it can be challenging to locate many of them. In addition, they are often found in different locations of the blender interface. This makes Blender one of the more challenging applications if you want to use it for 3D animations, despite its power.
Once you understand where everything is, things start to improve. However, there are more accessible alternatives for 3D animation.
Maya is a 3D modeling application specializing in creating animations. This is because the software is built around animation itself. Maya has been used in many commercial projects, both in the film industry and the animation and video game industries. Many tools and workflows used by Maya are focused on animation, and there are few better alternatives.
The Best 3D Software For Animation Is…
Of all of the options available for learning 3D animation, our number one choice is Maya. We have always found both the modeling and rigging toolkits intuitive and easy to operate using the MAYA software.
This, of course, is a necessity as Maya is not only used to create assets for animations but also assets for video games of any genre.
You can get a free trial to test out the Maya software, but the full license can set you back $1700 plus, so if you are not planning on using the software commercially, it may not be worth using unless you have money to burn.
The best free alternative is Blender 3D, which offers a similar suite of tools for both rigging and animation. It also has the grease pencil to allow for 2D animations and the use of various object types that can all be animated in their own way.
Blender is not as good as Maya overall (Depending on whose opinion you ask). Still, the value for money is the key advantage here as Blender is free, open-source brilliance that gives users more than a taste of what it’s like to use premium content.
We have two answers to this question. First, the best 3D software for commercial projects will be Maya. But the best 3D software for animation in personal projects will be blender 3D.
Thanks For Reading The Article
We appreciate you taking the time to read through the article and we hope that you have been able to locate the information that you were looking for. Below we have compiled a list of additional topics that are available for you to view and learn more about Blender.
- Can You Use Blender For Animation?
- Rendering An Animation In Blender 3D
- Is Blender A Good Option For 3D Animation?
- Best File Formats For 3D Printing
- What Are The Shortcuts For 3D Animation?
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