Animation brings stories and characters to life through moving images. While 3D animation requires heavy computing power, 2D animation can be achieved even on low-end PCs with the right software.
If you’re eager to start animating but don’t have an expensive high-spec machine, there are many great options for 2D animation software that can run well on modest hardware.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the top 11 picks for 2D animation software for lower-end PCs.
List of 11 Best 2D Animation Software Options for Low-End PCs
- Synfig Studio
- Blender Grease Pencil
- Plastic Animation Paper
- Animate CC
- TupiTube Desk
- Moho Pro 12 Anime Studio
- Digicel Flipbook
What to Look for in 2D Animation Software
When choosing a 2D animation program for an older or underpowered computer, there are a few key factors to consider:
- Low System Requirements – Look for software specifically made for low-spec PCs, often indie or open source options. Opt for lighter vector graphic programs rather than resource-intensive bitmap/raster graphics.
- Optimization – Well-optimized software ensures smooth performance even on minimal hardware. Prioritize 2D-specific animation tools over 3D suites.
- Easy Learning Curve – Intuitive and beginner-friendly interfaces allow you to focus on the animation rather than learning complex software.
- Drawing and Animation Tools – At a minimum, you need basic drawing tools and the ability to create frame-by-frame animation. Other nice bonuses are rigging, tweening, onion skinning, and more.
- Support for Exporting – The ability to export your animations to video files or animated images for sharing online or on multiple devices.
Now let’s look at 11 of the top 2D animation programs recommended for low-end PCs.
Pencil2D is a free and open-source 2D animation program excellent for beginners. With a simple and intuitive interface that resembles a real animation desk, it allows for easy and quick animation sketching. Despite being designed for low-end hardware, Pencil2D is packed with powerful tools for crafting cartoons and anime.
- Free, open source and lightweight
- Simple and easy-to-use interface
- Canvas for drawing, layers, and timeline for animation
- Onion skinning and cel-shading tools
- Can export animations as images, video, or HTML5
2. Synfig Studio
Synfig Studio is a great open-source animation software optimized for low-spec PCs. The vector graphics-based program can create complex animations and high-resolution output without needing a lot of computing resources. The multi-platform software has an active developer community creating ongoing improvements.
- Vector-based for smooth performance on old PCs
- Capable of complex cutout-style 2D animations
- Open source program available on Windows, Mac, Linux
- Helpful for beginners with good documentation
3. Blender Grease Pencil
While Blender is primarily used for 3D modeling and animation, its built-in Grease Pencil tools make it a totally free option for 2D projects as well. The digital drawing and 2D cel animation options are great for rough storyboard animatics, motion graphics, and other simpler projects. Integrates well with Blender’s 3D capabilities.
- Free, open source 3D and 2D creation suite
- Grease Pencil optimized for quick 2D animation
- Create 2D sketches, animations, motion graphics
- Animate in both 2D and 3D scenes
- Fully integrated with Blender’s 3D toolset
Opentoonz is the free, open-source version of professional 2D animation software used by major studios like Studio Ghibli and other 2D animation studios. Despite being free, it provides powerful tools for serious 2D animation while remaining lightweight. Customization options make Opentoonz great for hobbyists and pros alike.
- Advanced 2D animation tools made free
- Actively developed with new features
- Used by professional animation studios
- Customizable interface and workflow
- Access to baseline scanning for smooth workflow
Krita is a professional-grade painting and illustration program with full-fledged 2D animation capabilities built-in. Intuitive tools make Krita easy to use for beginners. Krita’s brush engines, onion skinning, and timeline make frame-by-frame animation smooth.
- Made for digital painting and illustrations
- Contains professional tools for 2D animation
- Free and open-source program
- Easy to use for animators of all levels
- Natural brushes and smoothing for hand-drawn feel
6. Plastic Animation Paper
As the name suggests, Plastic Animation Paper provides a virtual paper and pencil environment to imitate the feel of traditional hand-drawn animation. The simple interface allows you to quickly draw animated sketches that can be exported at high resolution. Fast, efficient, and easy to master.
- Designed to mimic real paper animation
- Simple tools allow fast 2D animation workflow
- Onion skinning and frame-by-frame animation
- Exports animations at 4K and higher resolutions
- Free version available with paid Pro version
Powtoon is an online platform for creating animated videos and presentations in a fun and easy way. With Powtoon you don’t need any software installed; it works directly in your browser. Their library of pre-made assets, characters, and templates makes it simple for beginners to create great animations quickly.
- Web-based animated video maker
- Huge library of animated assets and templates
- Intuitive drag-and-drop workflow
- Easy to use with no learning curve
- Affordable subscription model
8. Animate CC
Adobe Animate CC provides user-friendly tools for 2D animation and game development. While part of the Creative Cloud suite, it is affordable for solo animators. Animate allows you to publish your animations for web, TV, games, and mobile devices seamlessly.
- Animation and game development tools
- Easy-to-use interface and workflows
- Integrated with the Adobe ecosystem
- Can publish animations for web, mobile, TV, and games
- Comes with a free starter plan and trial
9. TupiTube Desk
TupiTube Desk is a free, open-source 2D animation program focused on making frame-by-frame animation and rough sketches simple. Drawing tools and basic animation features make it great for starting animators.
- Free and open-source software
- Made for quick 2D animation sketching
- Intuitive drawing and animation timeline
- Onion skinning for easy frame-by-frame animation
- An active community of contributors
10. Moho Pro 12 Anime Studio
Moho Pro (formerly Anime Studio) combines frame-by-frame and rigged bone animation for powerful 2D animation. Easy-to-use tools help beginners make professional animations for a reasonable one-time cost.
- In-depth tools for advanced 2D animation
- Bone rigging for easy manipulations
- Sophisticated lip-syncing capabilities
- Specialized animation workflow
- 30-day free trial available
11. Digicel Flipbook
Digicel Flipbook provides basic 2D animation features based on traditional techniques. The software focuses on fast prototyping and animation with its frame-by-frame drawing tools. Easy to use for quickly animating hand-drawn sketches.
- Quick and easy 2D animation
- Flipbook-style animation workflow
- Mimics traditional frame-by-frame animation
- Affordable one-time payment, no subscription
- Good for animating sketches and storyboards
Optimizing Low-End PCs for 2D Animation
Even with well-optimized software, running 2D animation on an older computer can still be challenging. Here are some tips to help maximize performance:
- Lower Resolution Output – Work in smaller canvas sizes like 720p or 480p instead of 1080p or 4K resolutions. Avoid overly large or complex scenes.
- Use Vector Graphics – Vector art-based programs like Synfig Studio are less resource intensive than bitmap/raster-based software.
- Limit Layers and Effects – Too many layers and effects will slow things down. Try to composite scenes in small chunks.
- Close Other Programs – Animation is resource intensive. Shut down any other apps to devote max power to animation software.
- Upgrade RAM – More RAM greatly helps performance and multitasking. Even maxing out an older machine’s RAM capacity can help.
- Use SSD Storage – An SSD drastically speeds up read/write times compared to traditional hard drives. Useful for large animation files.
- Overclock CPU – Overclocking can give a modest performance boost but requires proper cooling. Only recommended for experts.
- Keep Projects Organized – A tidy workflow prevents scene files from ballooning in size which hurts performance.
- Use Onionskinning – Onionskinning displays previous frames as a reference and can reduce working canvas size.
With some strategic optimizations, entry-level machines can definitely provide a great 2D animation experience. Just focus on working within your PC’s limits and being as efficient as possible. With creativity and patience, you’ll be on your way to making amazing animations.
Animation lets you bring your wildest ideas to life even without high-end hardware. For animators just starting out or working with limited PCs, 2D animation software offers an accessible entry point.
The options covered provide user-friendly tools optimized for low system requirements. With creativity and practice, you can start making beautiful animations from the comfort of your modest machine.
The world of 2D animation awaits. Choose a software that fits your needs and start animating today!