For reasons that include high-quality content creation capabilities and cutting-edge support for creative expression, Toon Boom is a leading 2D animation program in the industry.
It is why everyone, from freelancers to professional studios, pays hundreds to thousands of dollars a year to use it.
However, it is not the answer to everything, for everyone, or every project.
Some want an alternative to the product either because they are looking for something free or software that requires lesser technical knowledge.
Here, we have compiled ten of the best alternatives you can use, with a detailed explanation of their advantages and disadvantages and whom they could serve best.
With it, you can then decide which Toon Boom alternatives are suitable for you.
Best Toon Boom Alternatives
One of the most familiar reasons people want an alternative to Toon Boom is the cost. People looking to animate as a hobby or new entrants into the industry might find its minimum price of $25/month quite the financial dedication.
Here is one of the reasons Synfig Studio shines. It is a free Toon Boom-like software with a strong and active presence on every operating system, i.e., Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Some of its features include vector tweening (transforming a vector into another shape), more than 50 layers, and bitmap images for cutout animation.
It also comes with the Cobra rendering engine, meaning your machine has a high chance of rendering all the layers. Other features include –
- Full-featured bone system
- Temporal resolution independence
- High Dynamic Range Imaging
- Sound layer
- Transparent integration with Papagayo
Additionally, users only need to adopt a few resources to create high-quality 2D animation.
Synfig makes this possible by eliminating the requirement for frame by frame graphing and sketching.
Before you download it, it comes with a few minimum requirements. Synfig Studio requires at least 2GB of RAM, Windows 7, macOS 10.8, and a Linux distro 2012 or later.
To use the software, you can download it for free from the Synfig Studio website homepage.
After hitting download, it will prompt you to enter a fair price as a donation. However, you don’t have to pay. Just enter 0 to get the software.
It has two versions: The stable version and the beta version. If you want a closer look under the hood, you can check out the sources on GitHub.
What’s more, Synfig offers video courses that teach you how to use the software to create engaging animations, and they are available in French, English, Russian, and German.
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Over the years, the French-developed TVPaint has found love among animators and artists thanks to a robust toolset. One of the standout qualities of this software are its bitmap drawing and painting tools. Drawing on it feels like you are drawing on paper, a characteristic most similar software lacks.
However, as a competitor to Toon Boom, TVPaint is comfortably inferior when it comes to vector work. It lacks a substantial ability to perform tweening. Its solution to this is its Keyframer Tool, and it is not robust for anyone looking to carry out complex work.
Still, as a 2D animation software, it is a potent tool, with several other features like:
- Storyboard for Storytelling
- Video input for stop motion
- Personalized shortcuts
- Multiplane Camera
The software supports all major operating systems, including Android, another quality it has over Toon Boom. If you would like to create professional-looking animations on your mobile device, it is a great option to check out.
It is an all-in-all 2D animation software, and aside from its storyboard feature, it also offers stop-motion capabilities.
Additionally, it has post-production and FX tools, allowing it to be your go-to creation tool from conception to publishing.
However, it is not free. It comes in two editions, the TVPaint Animation Standard Edition that costs 500 euros, and Professional Edition, which costs 1250 euros.
You should know that the Standard Edition comes with about half the features offered by the developer.
Also, it offers different types of licenses at other prices. For instance, it has educational licenses that cost significantly less than the full commercial licenses.
It also has Upgrade licenses, which allow you to pay less when you switch from one version to another.
To check out what license category works for you, you can check out TVPaint Animation pricing here.
3. Moho Pro
As far as Toon Boom alternatives go, Moho Pro is considerably its biggest competitor.
Most of that comes from its wealth of tools, including what many argue to be the better bone rigging system.
Since the developer, Smith Micro Software, released version 11 with traditional frame-by-frame capabilities, Moho Pro has been a major go-to.
Its tweening qualities are equally excellent, a solid argument for being economically better than Toon Boom’s Harmony.
Speaking of cost, Moho is also available as a one-off purchase instead of the Toon Boom subscription model.
It does offer a 30-day free trial if you prefer to give it a ride before committing fully. The beginner’s version, Moho Debut, is also way cheaper.
Also, it is only available on Windows and macOS computers with at least 4GB of RAM.
Aside from its financial advantage and matching power set, you can also expect a string of beneficial features from Moho Pro like:
- Smart Warp
- Depth Shifting
- Nested Layer Controls
- Copy and Paste Keyframes
The Smart Warp is another eye-catching standout feature of Moho Pro. It lets you create exciting animations from a background image.
It does this by creating a triangulated mesh on top of the image or drawing you can manipulate, distorting the underlying image.
Furthermore, when you create vectors in Moho Pro, you only need to work with a smaller group of control points than you would in Harmony.
It makes it easier for you to manipulate and animate the vectors, all with fewer chances of errors.
Overall, the Moho Pro is a powerful alternative to Toon Boom’s Harmony. It is cheaper, with matching features and a few standout tools of its own.
It is a particularly strategic option for beginners, who will find it more flexible and powerful than the Canadian software because of its bone system and Debut version.
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Another tool that’s similar to Toon Boom is OpenToonz, an open-source software customized by Studio Ghibli based on the Toonz software.
One obvious benefit of this software is that you can edit the source code to your preference, giving you strong personalization abilities.
Not only that, it is free for commercial and non-commercial purposes. That is, you can use it for professional or amateur production.
It is also a free resource for educators who wish to use it for school productions. It is a money saver compared to the steep price of the Toon Boom.
Despite the zero commercial incentive, OpenToonz still packs enough features to make it your primary creative tool.
It has the GTS scanning tool, developed in-house by the famous studio.
Its abilities include compatibility with TWAIN standards and four types of scanning (colored, black & white, and with or without binarization.)
Its other features include:
- Digital painting
- Xsheet and Timeline interfaces
- Plug-in Effects
- Works with raster and vector images
Functionally, it only works on Windows and macOS, with a minimum requirement of Windows 7 and OS X 10.9. It also requires at least 4GB of RAM on both operating systems.
OpenToonz is excellent for beginners or educators with a limited budget.
And although money might not be a factor, it is a valuable tool for professional studios, too, considering Studio Ghibli uses it actively.
It has a sizable English community, so you have a free resource to use if you ever encounter an issue. You will find its source code on its GitHub repository along with an effects plug-in.
This community might come in handy considering its start-up manual, GTS manual, and plug-in installation login manual are all in Japanese.
In all, if you are looking for a free 2D animation software other than Toon Boom, you should consider OpenToonz.
The only program as popular as Toon Boom, Adobe Animate CC, is one of Adobe’s Creative Cloud tools. Formerly known as Flash, this software is the best alternative if your work focuses on the web or interactive games.
Unlike most of its alternatives, Adobe Animate has excellent vector graphics capabilities, with premium vector drawing and manipulation tools. Not everyone likes its layout, but a more significant downside is its lack of an extensive set of deformers.
Additionally, to apply effects, you need another program, like Adobe’s After Effect. These are part of a comparatively lower quality of features to Toon Boom as a whole.
However, the bone system is simpler to use and suited to frame-by-frame animation. It also has strong vector tweening and has seamless integration with other Adobe tools like Photoshop and Illustrator.
Because of Adobe’s large user base, Animate CC is also great for users looking to collaborate and build for the web.
It is a benefit that can be useful in securing job opportunities. And being an Adobe program, you also get solid customer support.
Other noteworthy features include:
- Quick sharing and publishing
- Advanced rigging
- Asset Panel with sound clips support
- Custom Brush
- Available in eight languages
You can download Adobe Animate CC as part of the Creative Cloud suite, or you can download it as a standalone app. If you go with the latter, it will cost you
- $20.99 per month (annual plan paid monthly)
- $239.99 annual plan (prepaid)
- $31.49 per month (monthly plan)
There is also a 7-day free trial for you to take the software for a spin before deciding. Before you download, the program has a minimum requirement of Windows 10 and macOS 10.14. It also needs 2GB of RAM minimum but recommends 8GB for optimal performance.
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Compared to Toon Boom and some of the other 2D animation tool alternatives on this list, Cacani (Computer Assisted Cel Animation) is a newbie.
It has only been around since 2017, but has quickly gained notoriety via its array of features.
Developed by Anime International Company, they include the Assisted Painting System. It allows you to paint a frame and transfer the color information from it to the rest of your animation sequence or specific frames in sequences.
With Cacani, you can save time by generating in-between frames based on keyframes. You can do this by selecting how many in-between frames you want it to generate.
There is also an option to adjust each generated frame’s timing and spacing with the Timing Panel.
Other features of the program include –
- Curve Drawing tools
- Resolution Independent Canvas
- Smoothing Modes
- Rematch Stroke Order
- Customizable shortcuts
You might like the Rematch Stroke Order feature. You can correct stroke matching problems in between your frames with it.
There is also a Join Strokes feature that does exactly as described – allow you to join strokes together.
There is a free trial for the Cacani software, albeit with the saving and auto-saving features disabled. Instead, the developer offers a time-based subscription license.
There is a 30-day license key that costs $20 and a 365-day key that costs $180. A Perpetual license that never expires runs $499.
These are only for an individual, however. Those who wish to use Cacani on multiple computers will have to part with $399 for 365 days or $799 for a perpetual license.
One significant downside, though, Cacani is only available for Windows computers.
It has a minimum requirement of 512MB RAM on Windows 8 and 4GB RAM on Windows 10. Otherwise, it is an effective alternative to Toon Boom.
If you are looking for a reliable and capable software like Toon Boom, AnimeEffects is another 2D animation tool worth considering.
AnimeEffects is based on the deformation of polygon meshes, and it is free software, with a GPLv3 license, available in English and Japanese.
It is also open-source, and its source code is available on GitHub, a marked difference from Toon Boom’s Harmony that costs $25/month at the lowest subscription level.
Besides the fact it is free, it comes with a slew of useful features such as:
- Free form deformation
- Image changing
- Layer Clipping
More than those, AnimeEffects supports a variety of file types. You can import and create animations with extensions like GIF, PSD, PNG, and JPEG.
It also supports graphics tablet operation and canvas rotation with intuitive deformation.
It is available on all the major operating systems. For Windows, it works with Windows 7 and above with OpenGL 4.0 or later.
On macOS, it requires OS X 10.9 or later, and Linux requires Qt5.7 or later. You can read additional requirements and installation instructions here.
AnimeEffects is a lean app and does not have all the robust functions that make Toon Boom popular.
However, it is a valuable makeshift option if you are looking for something you can customize to your needs or for your amateur productions.
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8. Wick Editor
Another free 2D animation tool capable of being a decent alternative to Toon Boom is Wick Editor. It is a hybrid animation tool with a coding environment similar to other notables like Scratch and HyperCard.
Compared to Toon Boom, which is best suited to those with a high skill level, this software is an easy-to-use tool for creating simple games and animations.
Its most significant advantage is its web version, which gives you a way to create animations on the web.
If you have an unsupported operating system or your PC doesn’t meet other technical requirements, you can still use Wick Editor for your projects.
The downloadable version only supports Windows and Mac, as well as some Linux computers. However, it is still in beta, and you might have to deal with a few bugs.
If you don’t mind, you can download it from here. For something more stable, use the web version.
As mentioned, it is entirely free. However, you can support the program via Patreon or on GitHub.
As for what you can expect, Wick Editor has exciting features that include:
- Outliner tool
- Intuitive interface
- Code editor
As a 2D animation tool, it does not have the robust features and name-recognition of Toon Boom. However, it is free, and it has a growing community of designers and programmers contributing to its development. You can also contact the designers directly by email if you have any questions.
If you are looking to design on the web with any device, the Wick Editor can be a cost-free alternative. Additionally, aspiring animators would find its library of tutorials helpful in improving their skills.
Most alternatives are excellent at undertaking professional to semi-professional projects.
However, TupiTube, a free and open-source 2D animation software, has the unique quality of being so simple, children and teens can use it.
The software is the creation of MaeFloresta, a startup founded by two Colombian entrepreneurs in California.
It is an even simpler alternative than Adobe Animate, a standard go-to option for young learners and complete beginners.
In that regard, it comes with support for all the essential tools for vector illustration. Some of them include a pencil tool, paint bucket tool, and pen tool.
Its support for basic tweening and bitmap images also allows low to average skilled users to carry out simple vector manipulations.
Other features of TupiTube include:
- Preview animation module
- Modular and easy-to-use interface
- Timeline and Exposure sheet
The MaeFloresta developed software also animated export support for several video formats. Some of them are OGV, AVI, MPEG, and SWF.
There is also support for PNG image arrays. Its Rotoscoping feature allows users to learn how to trace motion picture footage.
Moreso, it is community-oriented, with support for English, Spanish, and Portuguese users. Thus, learners can share their creations without necessarily leaving the platform.
While it may not have all the industrial-grade features of Toon Boom, TupiTube is fit for those who wish to design on the move.
It has an Android app alongside its Windows and Linux software. You can download the individual file for your device by going here.
Furthermore, because it has a GPLv2 license, it is free for commercial and non-commercial use, which is great for educators and aspiring educators who wish to publish their creations.
As far as Toon Boom alternatives go, Krita is one of the most popular free resources out there. It has zero need for a subscription, and it is feature-rich enough to handle professional productions.
What’s more, it is entirely open-source, so you can contribute to its development as you get more familiar with the program.
To use Krita is relatively easy. It has an intuitive interface, and you can customize the arrangement of the dockers and panels in ways that suit your creative process.
Speaking of dockers, Krita has over 30 of them, with tools that range from Brush Presets to Color Pallete.
Krita markets itself as software made by artists, and it is most evident with some of the program’s available features.
For instance, you can create your own brush and texture packs, and you can import those created by others from a dedicated Resource Manager.
Other noteworthy features of Krita include:
- Dark and light color themes
- Over 9 Brush Engines
- Wrap-around Mode
- Brush Stabilizers
Additionally, there is a range of productivity features designed to improve your output.
One of them is the Assistant Tool, a drawing aid capable of helping with straight lines and vanishing points. With it, everyone is capable of drawing.
It comes with nine tools, capable of simultaneous usage, to create perfect shapes, from ellipses to curvilinear perspectives.
Krita also supports audio import, layer management, full-color management, and PSD files, all of which, again, are free.
To get it, download the latest version here, for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
New versions are released regularly, and you can get early access to new features by downloading nightly updates.
However, unlike Toon Boom, it offers zero customer support. So, buggy updates will require applying your own fixes or waiting for the release of a stable version.
For whatever reason you might want one, there are many alternatives to Toon Boom. Some are paid software, with similarly robust sets of features.
Others are free and open-source, with a varied quality of tools, fit for different purposes.
Aspiring animators or young learners can learn animation with tools like TupiTube or Anime Effects.
Those looking to create professional-styled projects on Android devices will find TVPaint as a reliable alternative.
For those looking for the full array of professional tools, Adobe Animate or Krita are ideal alternative software choices.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.