Free Options for Computer Generated Imagery:
Blender 3D opensource – powerful but not easy. Official tutorials. You can access some free tutorials at: https://b3d101.org/en/ or this workbook from 3dami.org Some useful add-ons. There are some very interesting developments in 2.8 with the 2D animation Grease Pencil tools and the fun Animation Sketch add-on (YouTube).
Hexagon provides a basic 3D modelling package which is intended for creating props for Daz. It is also a great place to start 3D objects to transfer later to more sophisticated software such as Maya that either you cannot afford or perhaps cannot run on a laptop or an older PC/Mac. Good to create items to 3D print since it can export as .stl Documentation + Tutorials
Sculptris is a free but sadly no longer supported sculpting app for Mac & Windows. It may not work too well with modern operating systems. Being from Pixologic (famous for professionals’ favourite zBrush) Sculptris models can be imported easily to zBrush. (Given the price of zBrush is $895 you may want to first look at the more basic ‘zBrush Core’ at $179.99).
Texture Haven provides some great free Creative Commons textures in up to 4k resolution.
Image Manipulation and 2D Paint Software
GiMP Image Manipulation – the open source Photoshop rival. ClipStudio Paint (previously called Manga Studio) is only free for 30 days but is an excellent low cost alternative with a lot of great features including a built-in 3D character to pose for reference and basic animation.
Fire Alpaca is a lightweight app for Mac and Windows which will run fine on older machines too. See Youtube video. Does contain advertising, which requires payment to SE Windows version through Steam to remove.
Screentogif offers a great way to edit and export examples of your 2D or 3D animation. There is no need to install the .exe – it is portable and can be run from a USB stick or unzipped into your documents folder for use. Windows only. See below some of the tools available in this excellent free open-source utility:
Scratch is an online system of coloured blocks that you put in order to program your own interactive stories, games, and animations. It can also control Lego WeDo and Mindstorms EV3 models. Machine Learning add-on now available.