Best animation apps for mobile and desktop

April 28, 2020
Animation apps for mobile and desktop

Looking for the best animation app for mobile devices, PC or Mac? Your search ends with Justinmind! Here are some of the best on the web

Finding a great animation app that’s easy to use and produces excellent results fast is not the easiest task in the world. It can be almost as intimidating as learning how to do it from scratch, due to the sheer volume of tools on the market.

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That’s why in this post, we’ve produced a diversified shorthand of all the best animation apps for Android, iOS, PC and Mac so you can get back to what you do best – creating! Our list includes apps with everything you might need to create animations, such as tweening, onion skinning, stop motion, voice overs and even 3D animation!

Check out our post on effective animation to improve UX to see the benefits it can have on the usability of your web or mobile app!

The best thing? We’ve got something for all levels – you don’t need to be Walt Disney or have Spielberg-esque production skills. Combine any of the animation apps on this list with our prototyping tool and you’ve got a UX match made in heaven!

Android and iOS animation apps: free and paid

1. FlipaClip - Cartoon Animation (Android, iPhone, iPad)

If you’re looking to create some cartoon animation, then FlipaClip is a great choice for a free animation app that has all the perks of a modern animation technology, but still has an old-school feel.

Animation apps for mobile - FlipaClip - Cartoon Animation

Create videos with up to three free animation layers while using their onion skinning feature to create multiple frames. You can add further effects to your animations with an overlay grid. Perhaps the most striking part of this app is that, like the name suggests, you can create cartoons from your own sketches that appear similar to a flipbook.

Pricing: Free


2. Adobe Creative Cloud Express (Android, iPhone)

Adobe Creative Cloud Express is a must-have for anyone serious about creating animated videos on the go. This animation app syncs perfectly between your mobile device and desktop so that you can work whenever “inspiration strikes”.

Animation apps for mobile - Adobe Spark

To get started, you can upload images from your own collection or you can choose from Adobe’s repository containing thousands. Then you can go on to add your own soundtrack, create a slideshow and add text from their long list of beautiful professional fonts.

Pricing: free starter plan (limited features), individual plan (two months free trial then $14 per month), team plan ($27 per month)

3. Animation Desk Classic (Android, iPhone)

Animation Desk Classic is a perfect choice if you like to create animations by drawing on your iPad as it allows you to create frame animation in the same way as flipbook using the Apple Pencil.

You’ll get a “friendly, gorgeous” UI and various tools for painting, all of which include pressure sensitivity: everything from fountain pens, to crayons and pencils. Dispose of further detail by adjusting the opacity and stroke size of your brushes and see how your frames are layed out with their onion skinning feature.

Animation apps for mobile - Animation Desk Classic

Lastly, and worthy of comment is the fact that you can create animations with a frame rate of up to 24 frames per second.

Pricing: $4.99

4. PicsArt Animator - GIF & Video (Android, iPhone, iPad)

PicsArt Animator lets you create picturesque cartoons and animations on your mobile device at the drop of a hat with features like frame duplication, animated stickers and multiple overlays.

They also give you the option of drawing your animations frame-by-frame and using multiple layers to design complex animations.

Animation apps for mobile - PicsArt Animator

With this animation app you’ll also be able to record sounds directly in the app and add voice overs for your animations. However, what sets this app out from the rest is that you can even create your own emojis with the Emoji Me feature!

Pricing: free

5. Animoto Video Maker (iPhone, iPad)

Animoto Video Maker is a web app, meaning you don’t need to download any software. Whether you’re logging in from your iPad, your iPhone or Android it doesn’t matter – you’ll instantly be able to create animations with access to over millions of stock images and videos from their library.

Animation apps for mobile - Animoto Video Maker

Animoto also lets you import your own images and videos, in addition to adding licensed music tracks from their shared library catalog which contains over a million songs. You can then put your video together with their storyboard templates so you can ensure your animation is following the best design practices.

Best of all however, video creation is unlimited, as you’re not charged per video.

Pricing: free (create unlimited videos), professional ($32 per month – unlimited branding videos), team ($59 per month – unlimited branding videos from multiple accounts)

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6. Stop Motion Studio (Android, iPhone, iPad)

With Stop Motion Studio, you can create professional animations in no time, using their nice and simple interface. With this animation app, you get full camera control, while being able to adjust focus, exposure and white balance, as well as shutter speed. You’ll also be able to take advantage of their adjustable time interval feature.

Animation apps for mobile - Stop Motion Studio

Additionally, Stop Motion Studio lets you add different filters to your videos, add different backgrounds and foregrounds and adjust the fade effects of the video. Perhaps one of the coolest features of this free animation app is the retroscoping effect which lets you import your own video clips and then draw over them!

Pricing: free

7. GIFMob (Android, iPhone)

If it’s stop motion animation you’re looking for then GIFMob is the animation app you need to download. GIFMob prize themselves on having put the easiest stop motion animation app on the market that literally anyone of any level can use.

Animation apps for mobile - GIFMob

With GIFMob, you get a flat UI with intuitive features that lets you use an overlay feature, a 3D photo lab and then lets you save your stop motions in gif or MP4 formats to be shared and distributed as you like.

Pricing: free

8. LookSee Animator (Android)

LookSee Animator is another popular animation app on the market that gives you the power to create stop-motion videos and time-lapse videos using either your phone or tablet’s main and selfie cameras. This animation app gives you full control over the effects of your animation, such as the exposures, balance and focus, while also allowing you to add in some special effects.

Animation apps for mobile - LookSee Animator

You can also capture frames using a proximity sensor, timer, motion detection and sound features or by simply clicking on a button. Afterwards you can even convert a video back into a series of static images which can then be reused in other animations!

The best thing is that you can use LookSee from other devices using their remote feature and gain access to all of your animations, using your account.

Pricing: free

9. I Can Animate (iPhone)

If you’re looking for a simple, easy to learn animation app for your mobile device to create stop motion clips and GIFS, try I Can Animate.

I Can Animate has a surprising array of features for a mobile animation app such as onion skinning, scrollable timelines, exposure and white balance adjustment, and many more. There’s also no limit to the number of frames that you can create and you can easily export files to Dropbox, Facebook, your camera roll and Youtube.

Animation apps for mobile - I Can Animate

The only setback is that animations made with this will contain a special intro sequence and embedded watermark.

Pricing: $4

10. StickDraw - Animation Maker (Android)

What’s that you say? I don’t need to create an encaptivating cinematic thriller for my audience, I just need something that I can use to quickly get a message across – even just with stickmen. Well, guess what? There’s an animation app for that – it’s called Stick Draw.

Animation apps for mobile - StickDraw - Animation Maker

All you have to do is draw using your fingers and move your stick characters to one frame and then to another, it’s that simple ladies and gentlemen. StickDraw a great free animation app for creating stick-figure stop-motion GIFs and MP4 videos in seconds.

Pricing: Free

11. Textro (Android + iOS)

Textro is the app you need if you want to create animated text to share on social media. This app lets you add fun, animated text to all your stories, while choosing from tons of different color and font combinations to adorn your animations.

Best animation apps for mobile - Textro

You can even import your own music or choose a track from their music library, while adding imported pictures as backgrounds for your text animations.

While it does have a very specific usage, we still give this app ten out of ten for simplicity. All you have to do is add your text, choose the animation style, pick your font and color combinations and then you’re good to go.

Pricing: free

12. Motionbook (iOS)

Motionbook brings us back to traditional flipbook animation. It might seem a little basic at first, but then you realise that it’s just a guise and that there’s lots of hidden features that makes it quite versatile for being a free tool.

With an inking pen, marker, pencil, paintbrush, along with hard and soft erasers, you have everything you need to make your animations pixel-perfect, while it is also fully compatible with the Apple pencil. On top of that, you can use one of their predefined color palettes or create your very own, customized palette.

Best animation apps for mobile - Motionbook

You can also customize frames per second using their onion skinning feature, while a series of quick tweak features helps speed up your workflow, such as the ability to copy and paste drawings to other pages. You can even copy and paste images from other apps.

Lastly, this animation app is fully integrated with the iOS’s file system, making it easy to manage your flipbook files. The app also supports iCloud and lets you sync all your work across iPhones and iPads.

Pricing: free

13. Pixel studio

Pixel Studio is one of the best iPad animation apps around, allowing versatility and flexibility. You can use it on both your Mac or your mobile device using Google Drive synch, with the ability to upload your files to the iCloud. It also supports samsung’s S-Pen and the Apple Pencil, while allowing you to export files into the most popular formats, such as PNG, JPG, GIF, PSP and HSV.

Best animation apps for mobile - Pixel Studio

When it comes to the actual animation features, you have all the tools at your disposal that you could need. You have your pick of gradients tools, a sprite library to save image patterns, symmetry drawing and dot pen features.

Pixel-Studio also gives you a text tool along with a range of fonts to choose from. Get a mini-map to preview your animations, along with onion skinning to hone in on individual layers.

One feature that especially sets the Pixel Studio apart from the rest of the animation tools are their advanced RGBA and HSV color picker modes.

Pricing: free

PC and Mac animation apps: free and paid

1. Adobe Animate CC (Windows, Mac)

It’s impossible to talk about the best animation apps for PC and Mac without mentioning Adobe Animate CC. This powerful animation app let you design everything from game environments, to design start screens and even animations optimized for AR experiences!

What’s more, using their Adobe Fresco Live Brushes, you can create detailed and expressive characters for use in your animations that respond to actions such as touch, clicks and mouse movement.

Animation apps for desktop - Adobe Animate CC

Lastly, in addition to all the necessary technical features, such as onion skinning and overlay, you can also publish your animations to any platform on desktop, tv and mobile with HTML5 and SVG being some of the examples.

Pricing: free trial (30 days, then $20.99 per month)

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2. Blender (Windows, Mac)

If you’re in the market for a 3D animator, you could do a lot worse than Blender, which lets you create ultra-realistic 3D models and take advantage of its powerful path-tracer engine.

Animation apps for desktop - Blender

With this powerful animation app you can also avail of all the bare essentials, such as onion skinning, but they also go the extra mile in the amount of detail they give you over the 3D characters you create. However, among their most notable features is the ability to use object tracking in the raw footage you import.

Pricing: free

3. DigiCel FlipBook (Windows, Mac)

DigiCel FlipBook might seem quite simple when you first get started but that’s what animators like about it! FlipBook (and FlipPad for the iPad) are suitable for people of all levels, from beginners to expert designers.

Animation apps for desktop - DigiCel FlipBook

On top of that, it’s had some shining endorsements from animators and designers with storied careers such as Disney’s Animation Director, Don Bluth. What they like about this animation app is that it lends itself really well to pencil sketch animations.

You can directly draw your animations into FlipBook using a graphics tablet, edit, add a soundtrack and then shoot through all your drawings.

Pricing: flipbook lite ($19.99 – full purchase), flipBook Studio ($49.99 – full purchase), flipBook Pro HD ($129.99 – full purchase)

4. Harmony - Paid

Harmony is a popular 2D animation app from ToonBoom and has been a leader on the scene for upwards 25 years. Many designers, and animators, from students and freelancers to artists and professionals have complemented the tool as being a go-tool source.

Animation apps for desktop - Harmony

Containing all the practical features you could need in an animation app, you can avail of a paperless animation interface with both 2D and 3D integration, special effects and a drawing ruler and even an isometric perspective curve are just some of the fancy features it includes.

Many high profile companies have used the Harmony animation app, including Universal, Ubisoft, NBC and Fox.

Pricing: essentials ($19 per month), advanced ($47 per month), premium ($87 per month)

5. Clara.io (Online)

Clara.io is an animation app that was created by Exocortex, known for their dealings with Maya, 3ds Max and Softimage.

Animation apps for desktop - Clara.io

It lets you design animations and create 3D content, but best of all, you don’t need to download any software as it is all online! All you need to do is set up an account and you’re given instant access to a professional 3D animation UI. Any animated scenes that you create will be saved to the animation app’s cloud-based server.

Pricing: free (2GB cloud storage, 1 hour render time per month), $10 per month (10GB storage, 10 hr render time per month), $100 per month (500GB storage, 200 hrs render per month), enterprise (contact for more details)

6. Synfig Studio (Windows)

Synfig Studio is an open-source 2D animation app that allows you to literally transform any vector shape into another using their vector tween feature. All you need to do is set the positions for your vector images and the Synfig animation app automatically does calculates the tweening frames for you.

On top of that, Synfig provides you with over 50 layers to design and animate artwork of any degree of detail. Of the layer types available, you have access to gemortic layers, gradients, distortions, filters, fractals and many more!

Animation apps for desktop - Synfig Studio

Finally, their bone tool lets you design cutout animation with bitmap images and to control all your vector art. Additional skeleton distortion layers let you render complex deformations to your bitmap art.

Pricing: free

7. Aurora 3D Animation Maker (Windows, Mac)

If you’re looking for a diverse animation app that works great on both a PC and Mac, try Aurora 3D Animation Maker. It allows you to create impressive 3D animations, letting you animate text and even logos!

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It lets you use a single timeline to control your animation from start to finish and gives you access to all the help you need, with features such as particle effects and free-hand shapes to Quick Styles.

Animation apps for desktop - Aurora 3D Animation Maker

What we particularly like about this animation app though, is that you also get access to free animation templates so all you need to do is provide the SVGs and choose an animation, that way you don’t need to be thinking about how the letters move in your logo!

Pricing: $6.95

8. Pencil2D animation (Windows, Mac)

If you just need to get a quick 2D animation job out of the way and are looking for an animation app with a straightforward UI, you could try the time-tested Pencil2D, an open source animation app.

Animation apps for desktop - Pencil2D animation

Pencil 2D lets you draw, paint and animate in a traditional hand-drawn environment using both vector and bitmap graphics. You’re free to switch between both vector and raster workflows while designing your animations, all in a UI that is lightweight and minimalistic, giving you a more immersive experience.

Pricing: free

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9. Vyond (Online)

Vyond is an animation app that’s especially geared towards business professionals from Human Resource managers to Marketers. It’s therefore an app that can be easily learned and holds features that are suitable for all skill levels, from beginners experts.

Vyond lets you make dynamic content by creating custom characters that you can use in your animations allows you to mix multiple styles. You can also perform an automatic lipsync using the animation app or use one of the many templates they provide and mix and match with your own imported media, such as images, videos and audio files.

Animation apps for desktop - Vyond

Vyond places a huge emphasis on teamwork, letting you share characters, animation templates and designs across so that all your team members have access to your assets at any stage of the animation process.

Pricing: premium (for SMEs: $89 per month), professional (medium to large companies: $159 per month)

10. Animotica (Windows)

Animotica promises that five minutes is all you need to create your first animation, making it a great app for beginners that would like to make short animations.

Animation apps for desktop - Animotica

This animation app gives you access to all the basic features you could need such as video splitting, trimming, rotation, overlays, slideshow features and more. It also lets you import your own audio files, in addition to designing fancy transitions between multiple video clips.

Pricing: free (basic features – watermark), Animotica Light ($6.99 – no watermark), Animotica FUll Pro ($15.99 – no watermark, full features, unlimited overlays)

11. Adobe Character Animator (Windows + iOS)

Yep, Adobe products are expensive, but everyone knows just how versatile and effective they are at getting the job done. Everyone at this stage is also aware that finding your way around an Adobe product is no laughing matter, with often complex UIs frightening beginners off.

That’s why we recommend the Adobe Character Animator for intermediate animators to pros who really know what they’re doing and need to spend many hours a day on animation. The actual app itself is indeed very powerful, just like other Adobe products. For example, you can use the character animator via your webcam and microphone and use your own facial expressions and track your physical movements in order to animate your characters.

Best animation apps for PC - Adobe Character Animator

But the craziest thing? You can even livestream your animations so that others can tune in as you animate. We’re not quite sure why most digital animators would need such a feature on a regular basis, but hey – it sure is a cool addition! The tracking software is so powerful that it’s even able to track your eye movements in real-time and map them onto your animated character.

Of course, being an Adobe product, the integration with apps like after effects and premiere pro is like one big happy family. It’s also very easy to import art from other apps and then just animated it using your webcam. How cool is that?

One of the other really interesting features that separates adobe character animator from other apps on this list is the Adobe Sensei feature. With adobe Sensei, you can import audio tracks and the app does all of the work for you and animates the character by intelligently mapping the audio track to facial expressions and movements, all done with machine learning.

Lastly, other features include the obvious ones – a good scrubbing feature, colorized takes, the ability to hide or isolate certain tracks and a grouping feature for easy organization.

Pricing: $52.99 per month

12. Animaker (Online)

Animaker sets out to let everyone from beginners to pros create live-action animation videos, giving you tons of templates to choose from.

With it, you get access to a very diverse collection of animated characters with editable properties, as well as stock images, icons and videos. It also lets you create fully custom characters with over 15 facial features and 20 facial expressions that are all customizable.

Best animation apps for PC - Animaker

The app’s voice-over feature makes it easy to do auto-lip synching for characters, saving you a lot of time, while it lets you change characters’ expressions and movements with just a few clicks.

On top of that, you can also make use of their many effects, with screen effects, transitions and camera effects thrown into the mix. On top of that, you can even important you own assets.

Lastly, many high-profile companies such as Amazon, Unilever, HP and Bosch have even used this app. We think that adds enough credibility to merit it a try, at least.

Pricing: $10 per month

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13. Moho (Windows + iOS)

Moho likes to define itself as a tool created by animators for animators. It’s one of the more affordable pro animation tools out there and is stacked to the brim with editing features. If you’re looking for an animation app which is specifically aimed at producing real, pixel-perfect animations and one where the detail of the visuals really matters, then Moho is your app.

Moho gives you the ability to create traditional animations by using a combination of modern Bitmap Tools alongside frame-by-frame layers using images. Another very handy feature that Moho bestows the downloader and payer is the ability to create a storyboard or an animatic.

Best animation apps for PC - Moho

Image source: Filehorse

In terms of image editing, using bitmap drawing tools and brushes, you can create complex and unique textures and fancy effects. When it comes to editing the animations and creating movement, you can use the bone pinning feature to animate and reshape assets. And it’s kinda fun.

Like many tools, on the list, you can import your own asset or choose from their library, which includes all sorts of scenes, props, stock audio files and characters that are ready to go. Another neat feature we like about Moho is the ability to draw vector shapes within the app itself. You can do this by using your computer mouse or by drawing with a tablet pen.

Perhaps what we like most about this app is that, even though it’s aimed at the pros, it also comes with a beginner mode, meaning that others can start off with zero knowledge and take the time to get to know the app until they feel it’s time to switch the beginner mode off. This, coupled with the ability to create your own keyboard shortcuts means that you, the animator, can make this app as intuitive or as complex as you like.

Pricing: $399 once-off payment

14. Moovly (online)

Moovly is a professional animation app that best serves explainer videos, promos, training and tutorial videos. Many high-profile companies such as Logitech, Cisco, Bayer and Amadeus have trusted Moovly to create their animations.

Best animation apps for PC - Moovly

The online editor also comes with many customizable templates you can use to get your work on immediately so you don’t lose any time. When it comes to creating scenes, Moovly is surprisingly easy to use. It has a simple drag-drop editor for images, videos and even sound tracks. With the Moovly animation app, you also get to choose from their millions of stock photos, illustrations, music and sound files.

Once you’ve created your video, Moovly lets you download it and share it with whomever you choose or you can publish it on social media or any video platform.

Pricing: $49 per month

15. Wideo (Online)

Wideo is great for marketing professionals with little to no animating or video editing experience. The main model behind Wideo’s editing process is that you can put videos together using templates and pre-made materials.

Choosing a template is easy and then you can use their drag-drop editor to add graphics, stock images or stock footage into the mix using their video library. You can then export the videos as MP4 files or share them to Youtube or Facebook.

Best animation apps for PC - Wideo

Even though this is an animation app for beginners, there are still professional marketing agencies that create videos and charge their clients for them using Wideo, so even though it’s suitable for someone with zero experience.

Lastly, One thing that immediately instills you with trust and confidence about Wideo is that you’re free to try the app out without having to give away any credit card details – that only comes if you want to actually pay. Nice guys.

Pricing: $59 per month

16. Cartoon Animator 4 (Windows + iOS)

Cartoon Animator 4 is also one of the more expensive, top of the range animation apps. For about 200 bucks you get access to tons of templates, characters, accessories, motions, props and other features you need to create animated scenes.

Best animation apps for PC - Cartoon Animator 4

Some of the more intricate features include a 360 degree head maker, motion retargeting and even a handy Photoshop import feature so that you can quickly and easily start animating your artwork.

However, if we had to choose one gripe, we’d probably say that it’s the fact that you can only use IK animation. It might be better to have a combination of IK and FK, as the latter helps you create more natural movements faster, and can help you save time.

Pricing: $199 once-off payment

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17. RoughAnimator (Windows + iOS)

RoughAnimator is a diverse animation app that doesn’t set out to discriminate. Their app is available for all platforms, whether it be Windows, Mac, iOS or Android.

If hand-drawn animations are your gig, then roughanimator has what you need. Aimed at beginners and pros alike, RoughAnimator sets you lose over a timeline with unlimited layers, an onion skinning feature, and great timeline scrubbing flexibility.

Best animation apps for PC - RoughAnimator

Image Source: pdalife.com

What’s pretty impressive for an app of this budget is the ability to import audio files for automatic lip synching, as well. But the synching ability doesn’t just end there – there’s also a handy rotoscoping feature to add some realism to your designs.

It’s quite an agreeable app as well, being compatible with Samsung’s S-Pen, along with the Apple Pencil, Logitec Crayon and other similar devices. Additionally, with RoughAnimator, you can export your projects to Quictime, GIF or as image sequence, while also having the option to export your animation designs to Adobe Flash or Animate.

Pricing: $4.99

Best animation apps - which one should I pick?

The best animation app for you depends on a few factors. Firstly, and most obviously, what type of animation do you need to do? What’s the degree of complexity? Do you need to creat a GIF, a cartoon, an animated logo or a VR scene?

The next thing you need to ascertain is, apart from your budget, is whether or not you prefer to carry out your design on a cell phone, tablet or PC. This again will depend on the complexity of the animation you need to do. While there are many great mobile animation apps out there, something like 3D might require the more powerful processor of a PC.

Whatever type of animation you need to do, it’s easier than ever to get it done!

Joseph Downs
In-house UX copy-slinger, foodie and classic motoring enthusiast