Our guide to animation software
Hotcourses Editor

Our guide to animation software

First published date September 08 2015 Amended date September 08 2015

Any animation buff will know there are a number of options to choose from when it comes to the software used to create the designs. A vital part of the job, but where do you even start when it comes to choosing which works best for you?

Because we love helping our users out, we have taken a look at the different computer programmes that you might train in, in order to work in this industry. Below is a rundown of the different animation software you might be using, to help you choose which sounds like the option for you.

Remember, whatever course you choose you will be trained fully in the software. Whether you want to learn animation software skills and techniques and aspire to one day create a film or game with beautiful and creative graphics, or you want to expand your animation toolset, there are plenty of courses for you to choose from.



Both innovative and technical, Maya is a software used to create interactive 3D applications, including visual effects, 3D television and film and games. Providers such as Academy Class offer Maya courses which will teach you everything from the basics to the more advanced, and you will learn how Maya’s tools are put to use in the film and television industry.

Did you know? Walt Disney Feature Animation worked closely with the development of Maya during the time it was producing ‘Dinosaur’. The Oscar winning film, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ used Maya for its visual effects through the film.


After Effects

After Effects is a computer program that is used in post production. It is used to create visual effects and other forms of animation and is the place to go if you are looking to make an animated logo for your website. After Effects courses are great for those hoping to make a move into the film and television business, or for animators who want to expand their toolset.

Did you know? After Effects was used in the James Cameron film, ‘Avatar’. Stephen Lawes, creative director of Pixel Liberation Front, who worked on the film said: ‘After Effects gave us extreme versatility in comping as well as in creating motion graphics. The quality of the graphics we handed off for final production was superb.’


3ds Max

Formerly known as 3D Studio Max, 3ds Max is a 3D computer graphics program which is used for making 3D animations, models and images. It is very popular among game developers, and is an essential program to know about if you want to learn animation and dream of creating impressive visual animation and effects.

Did you know? Mythic Entertainment, which is owned by Electronic Arts (EA), used 3ds Max to reinvent ‘Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning’, one of the most popular fantasy war games. Mythic Entertainment’s senior animator, Michael Wallin, said that: ‘Autodesk 3ds Max is the integral tool in our pipeline.’ 


Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is one of the most popular 3D modelling and rendering applications used in the film and television industry. Providers such as XChange Training offer several Cinema 4D courses, suitable for every ability level. Courses in Cinema 4D will look at animating, lighting, texturing, rendering and other features used to develop animation and special effects.

Did you know? A huge number of films have been modelled and rendered in Cinema 4D, including ‘Inception’, ‘War of the Worlds’, ‘Spider-Man 3’, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘Tron: Legacy’.



When you load up an animation, a graphic or a game on your computer, you are probably viewing and playing through Adobe Flash Player. Flash courses are great for those wanting to learn animation, who are both creative and technical minded, and who enjoy taking care over detail. Courses are available for people of all abilities, and will teach you how to include audio and video into your projects, as well as looking at animation techniques.

Did you know? Adobe Flash is still a popular animation tool for several 2D shows, including ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ and ‘El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera’.


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