/  2d animation   /  Essential Tools for Animators

So today I thought I’d write a post about some of the tools I use as an animator that I’ve really come to see as essential to doing my job well. Many of them are free resources, and others are pretty expensive. Let’s just get right into it.

Whether you’re a 2d or 3d animator, or a little of both like me, a Cintiq has become a really essential tool to doing my job. I have tried both the small and large ones, and I honestly can’t live without the big one.

The reason being is that the smaller monitors just don’t seem to give me enough space to work correctly. I’m always cramped into a small space to animate or draw.

They make doing storyboards and illustration vastly easier as well.

I recommend the 24hd, priced around $2000:

Or the 22hd, priced at this time around $1799:

There are a few other options for Cintiqs that are a bit older, and probably less expensive. I am personally not a huge fan of touch screens on Cintiqs just because I am weary about actually touching the screen with my fingers and getting skin oils on them all the time. If you have a different preference, then you can also buy the touchscreen versions of these two as well!

I you can’t afford a Cintiq at this time, there are other options that are less expensive that aren’t a total substitute, but I worked pretty well with them for years.

The sizes I recommend are the following:


Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Tablet (Medium Sized), around $349.95:

Wacom Intuos Art Tablet (Medium Sized), around $199.95:

I’ve found by working with both smaller and larger tablets, medium tends to be the easiest size to handle on a table, or on your lap. Anything bigger or smaller I couldn’t really work with well and felt constantly frustrated by. These tablets are a much more affordable substitute to a Cintiq, but I still recommend the Cintiq most if you can afford it. However I’d also think hard about how often you will use it to do your job.

As a freelancer I use mine everyday, so the investment is well worth the cost.

Honestly the kind of computer you have is also important. I usually use Macs for my job, as I have found them to be very reliable, tough machines that will usually keep working for years and years. But I also am aware that not everyone has this experience with Macintosh computers.

Here are a few option for computers to consider if you don’t have one, or need a new one. I realize these again are probably not affordable to some who are just started out.

I think if you don’t have a lot of cash, a good way to go is to hire a computer repair or build shop to build you a PC on the cheap, you can get a powerful machine at an affordable price that way

But if you have some spending money, consider these computers:

Macbook Pro 13.3 Inch Laptop – Retina Display, around $1,299.00:

CUK MSI Probox Small Business Desktop Computer, around $805.50:

Another essential piece of equipment I cannot stress having is some backup external hard drives to keep copies of your work on. Computer hard drives fail, and when they do it can be really bad. You can lose all your work. It’s happened to a few friends of mine, and yes, it’s happened to me as well. So keep a few of these in your studio in order to save your work to. I backup my stuff at least twice a year, if not more often if I remember. Some reliable brands of external drives are listed below:

Lacie 2Terabyte Robust External Hard drive, around $149.99:

Lacie 1Terabyte Robust External Hard drive, around $109.99:

Beyond these, Adobe’s software like AfterEffects, Photoshop and Illustrator are programs I use all the time. You can sign up for a Creative Cloud membership through Adobe and get access to all their software here, the link it to Adobe’s discount page, good for students and teachers especially:

Adobe Creative Cloud (Discounts Page)

If you’re a 3d Animator, Autodesk’s 3ds Max (PC uses) and Maya (both) can be purchased through their either monthly or yearly subscription packages here:

Autodesk Desktop Subscription Service

If you’re a 2d Animator, Toon Boom Harmony is right now the industry standard for many big studios. It’s a really great piece of software, and can be subscribed to on a month by month or yearly basis as well here. Toon boom has a couple different versions of Harmony for you to choose from depending on your needs and budget. I use the Advanced version myself:

Toon Boom Harmony Subscription Page

I hope this blog post has helped you out if your either just starting out, or interested in some of the equipment options and expenses out there, You can also search websites like Craigslist for these same tools if you can’t afford the ones listed here.

Good luck and happy animating!