What’s the best tool for creating animations?

What’s the best tool for creating animations?

Felix the Cat
The famous Felix pace as seen in Oceantics (1930). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A little while ago, Nigel Young posted this very question to his blog. And to be frank, I found the replies (or lack thereof!) to be underwhelming.

I mentioned VideoScribe, PowToon and Xtranormal, all of which I have dabbled with, while another fellow recommended Anime Studio among a few others.

Given the potential for animation to support workplace L&D, I think Nigel’s question is worth re-asking:

What’s the best tool for creating animations?



  1. Hi Ryan – yes I had some responses but they were generally quite limited. Mostly focussing on the tools used to make adverts rather than usable for animations for learning purposes. I rapidly came to the conclusion that there was no one tool – it came down to which set you worked best with to achieve your aims. For me, that was largely Animatron a bit of Powtoon and Pivot. Here’s my follow up blog: http://nigelkineo.blogspot.co.nz/2015/02/animation-tools-and-elearning.html

    • I guess a mix and match makes sense as there’s unlikely to ever be a silver bullet.
      I really like the look of Animatron, especially the ability to import and animate your own images.
      I’ve been playing around a bit more with PowToon lately, and while I find it quite easy to create good-looking animations, I find the range of artwork very limited, even with a pro account.

      • As you might have seen Ryan I too used Powtoons recently, for my Udemy course. It has it’s purpose I suppose but I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody 😉 Needless to say I won’t be subscribing to it but I’m very interested and curious about Animatron now. I have a colleague asking about good solutions but more for the commercial side of things rather than eLearning (or rather courses). Starting to think commercials might be more useful than eLearning lol

  2. I have used many different animation software but not with a high level of expertise. If anything, I sign onto the free account and then simply experiment and muck around with the tool. I have used a tool called DVolver Moviemaker a lot – it’s also a lot of fun.

    Previously, I used the animations in my design work for learning programs mainly to introduce concepts, keep it light and really to pique curiosity. I have mainly used Animoto and GoAnimate. There are others such as Moovly (there’s a free version) and Sparkol (which is VideoScribe that has a free 7 day trial period). Of course, you can’t forget Prezi but I don’t use this tool at all as it makes me physically ill. The transitions and the movements make me nauseous (don’t laugh – that is actually a condition for many people – Prezi sickness!!).

    In recent times I have been experimenting with Wideo to create some really short animated introductory videos for my LinkedIn profile to promote my services.

  3. My favorite, by far, has to be Xtranormal. Unfortunately it’s currently offline, having been sold to another company. But it is being reinstated by that other company and I am very excited about that. It’s very limited in many ways, but I was always able to find a nice blend of settings and characters. I used it for personal projects, but all it needed for workplace use was decent voiceover recordings and good editing. I can’t wait for it to come back online at http://xtranormal.com/

  4. The Plotagon app (I have it for iPad) is another option to consider. It’s similar in some respects to Xtranormal, but price point may be an issue.

    My lingering question is always around whether we are animating because we can, or animating because it really contributes to the learning?

    • It’s each and every person’s responsibility to do something for a purpose, not just because they can. I always make it a point to make myself defend every decision I make and have a purpose for it.

      Everything with a purpose.

    • Good question, Mark. In my case, I’m using animations as an advance organizer, to help our workshop participants know what to expect, get into the right mindset, and hopefully generate a little excitement to boot.
      The flip side, of course, is animation for the sake of animation, which I would find infuriating as a learner. I see a lot of this with video – just tell me already, it would take one sentence!

  5. Ryan, I nearly forgot about Project Expresso – it’s a beta iPad app at this point to create “explainer” videos, those “watch me sketch as I narrate” animations. It looks very promising – there are a number of built-in drawings that you can add to your canvas, and then swipe the canvas out of the way and start again.

    Project Expresso is designed to create stand-alone explainer videos, but I found it more useful for me to create animated assets for my videos and then edit/cut them in my movie production software. There are several embedded here http://tom.spiglanin.com/2014/12/microlearning-video-on-a-shoestring-pacing/. I do think this is one to watch, very impressive potential.

  6. And I forgot to mention, it even has a capability to load an image or photo and then draw over it (removing the original image later) to create an animated image. Very useful for the artistically challenged.

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