Synfig, CReatoon and other animation software

Over the last couple of years, I have experimented with several different examples of free, shareware or affordable animation software programs. I’m considering having a look at Synfig but have always been put off by so many reports of problems either installing it or keep it running. These are some of the programs I’ve used so far, together with a few notes so any Synfig users can compare them with what they know.

CREATOON 3 (Was commercial but is now freeware. No longer supported.). Intended almost exclusively for cut-out style animation and uses effective forms of pinning and layers. It takes a while to learn but works well … although some users report stability problems. (I’ve never had difficulties with it). Does not use any form of ‘bones’.

EXPRESS ANIMATOR (Shareware with free 2 week trial) Still under development and designed for Flash-style animation. Uses a form of pinning and bones but isn’t yet functional enough for using with a long project.

ARTOONIX (Free version but with access to additional functions such as ‘tweening’ when registered). Can be used for both drawn and cut-out style animation. Has neither pinning nor bones and although originally designed for children, is now perfectly usable by experienced animators. Has probably the best sound-functions of any animation software; allowing perfect synchronisation of sound and animation. There are a lot of examples on Youtube, including some of mine (under another username).

ANIME STUDIO PRO (commercial). I won’t detail this software here as it has no free version - but there is plenty of info on the SmithMicro homepage. It is famous for it’s detailed implementation of bones.

So - users of Synfig - any comparative comments? Is Synfig worth trying when viewed alongside these programs?

Hi BobGodfreyFan:
I just can talk about Anime Studio (AS) vs Synfig comparison because AS was the only one previous 2D animation software I’ve tried before Synfig. For your information I’ve been about two years using Anime Studio and I know very well is goods and bads.

Synfig is better than Anime Studio but still having some non completely developed features.

Main advantages of AS compared to Synfig:

  1. Sound support. Unfortunately we don’t have sound support already in Synfig. Anyway the sound support in AS is very basic and it useful merely for lipsync or music sync. You cannot pan soundtrack or have mixer of various sounds tracks.
  2. It is fast. Yeah. It has a very fast interface. Synfig needs improvements on that.
  3. It has a proved functional bone system. We are working on a bone system in Synfig right now. I hope that in a “short” period of time we can release it.
  4. It has “actions”. This concept doesn’t exists in Synfig.
  5. It has scripting capabilities (lua). Synfig is opensource :slight_smile:

Main advantages of Synfig compared to AS:

  1. Real floating point calculation. In Synfig the output render is time and size independent. That’s partially true in AS and can give some problems if you don’t plan properly the project settings. Synfig is always smooth because time relies on a float point number. In AS the time relies in an integer number (the frame).
  2. Better interface. Although it can be difficult to understand at first sight Synfig is more user friendly than AS.
  3. Every parameter is animatable. In AS you have some of the parameters not animatable through the time.
  4. Much better blend modes. Masking is not a problem like in AS.
  5. More raster effects (blurs, noise distort, much better gradients - included curved gradients-) color filters, distortions layers, and much much more…
  6. In Synfig imported files track its modifications. If you import an animation into another, the changes in the first are reflected in the second. In AS when you import a file into other you always do a copy not a reference.
  7. In synfig keyframes are keyframes and waypoints are waypoints. In AS there are not keyframes really tey work just with waypoints, so to keep a pose unmodified the have to use external scripts.
    8.) Synfig is free and frequently updated. This maybe is trivial but bugs are fixed when possible as soon as possible. I’ve seen lots of bugs in AS remaining there from version to version and even appearing new ones when new version arises.

Definitively it is worth to try Synfig. It would give you more satisfaction than you can imagine.
It works better in linux unfortunately for Windows users but I’ve ran successfully AS in Windows Vista after follow the structured install and usage instructions.

Please post here or in the chat any help you need on synfig usage. We gladly help you.
Visit our web:

Thanks for the outstanding comparison between Synfig and AS.

One reason for my doubts has always been references to the fact that Synfig isn’t quite so good when run with Windows (I use XP). Also, of course, it’s a commercial package and although not expensive, it isn’t a give-away either! However, your other comments are very interesting and I’ll study them in detail.

As I said in my main post, Artoonix has probably the best audio functions of any animation software except, possibly, for some of the truly high-end examples which I’ve never tried. Certainly, for anyone ‘below’ professional level, it beats anything I’ve yet found and it’s a feature that I use a lot.

Thanks again for your detailed notes.

EDIT: Man, this is getting tiresome, having to go back and edit all my posts, because they both look and sound way too stupid…
Is there an Easy Delete All Posts button?

FWIW, I’ll say for 99% of what I use it for, Synfig runs great on XP. If I use some of the more cutting edge features or import large images, or try to skip around the timeline while the renderer struggles to catch up, then I may be asking for problems. It’s not bullet proof, but it’s stable enough for basic use.

I’ve installed Synfig on Vista, and used it to render quite a bit, but haven’t used the gui extensively under Vista.

Give it a go - you have nothing to lose, not even the price of the application :wink: . Let me know if you run into any problems.

pencil is a good one although very simple. I hope they make new additions and what not. Especially with the brushes. They also don’t let you export as a movie file so I hope they add that in the future. it’s free as well.
I had wanted to try synfig but it looks so complicated. I’ll read up on the tutorials. But at the moment it doesn’t work with my tablet. I’m hoping to make a short or something with synfig at some point.

You have all our support to learn and try to use Synfig Studio. Please ask freely here whatever question you need even if you think it is very simple. I’ll be very glad to help you.


This is quite an old thread.
Is it still true, that Synfig is only useful if running on Windows? I read on the web it reveals it’s full potential only on Linux?!

There is slightly more functionality on Linux than Windows (support for ImageMagick++) and multithreading is turned off for Windows, but apart from that, the experience should be comparable.