CGI – free software

Free Options for Computer Generated Imagery:

3D software

Blender


Blender 3D opensourceOfficial 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

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

Daz3D

Daz 3D free figure posing, rendering and animation, with a wide range of low-cost props, figures and costumes available. Similar to commercial app Poser

MakeHuman

MakeHuman is a free open source character generator suitable for use with Maya and 3ds Max and with increasingly close links with Blender 3D.

SculptGL

Free Web-based sculpting in your browser or downloaded to work offline. Can export in useful formats such as .obj and .stl amongst others. iMaterialise review  Intro video

zBrush Core Mini + Scupltris

zBrush is perhaps the best of the sculpting applications and makers Pixologic have provided zBrush Core Mini as a way to learn before making the jump to their paid applications zBrush ($895) and the more basic ‘zBrush Core’ ($179.99). 

Sculptris is a free but sadly no longer supported sculpting app for Mac & Windows, and the download link now redirects to zBrush Core Mini. Sculptris will not work too well with modern operating systems but is still a good option for older computers if you can find a download. Being from Pixologic, Sculptris models can be imported easily to zBrush. Comparison of Sculptris vs ZBrush Core vs ZBrush

screentogif

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. The image shows some of the tools available in this excellent free open-source utility:

3D Printing

3D printing software recommendations for beginners

See our 3D printing section here at My-Animation

Programming

Scratch

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.

SoloLearn

sololearn free codingsololearn.com is a great free way to learn to program. C# is used by Unity game engine, C++ by Unreal, Python by Blender and Krita.

Video Editing

In addition to the obvious choice of iMovie for Mac users and Premiere Pro for those with an Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription, there are a number of free and cross-platform options that we can recommend:

Shotcut

Shotcut‘s interface is not pretty but a fully functioning and efficient video editor, similar enough to Premiere Pro that we have been able to switch between them easily. Free for Windows and Mac (including a native M1 ARM version), and only 240 MB installed on Mac. Does not require huge amounts of memory or the latest graphics cards and is a very capable piece of software.

DaVinci Resolve

The free DaVinci Resolve is a joy to work with, very responsive, and with great colour control. Made by Blackmagic who also design a wide range of great cameras and filmmaking equipment. If you really need to use more than one GPU and work in resolutions above 4k then you can pay for an upgrade. Biggest drawback is the need for a powerful computer and a good graphics card – a 2016 MacBook Pro just about copes. It is also more than 3 GB of download and drive space.

Blender

Yes, Blender, the free 3D package you may already have installed has a video editing module.

List of 15 free video editing applications for Mac, Windows or iOS