From Free to Paid - The Best Software & Plugins Motion Graphics Designers Use in 2021

With so many plugins and apps available, it’s a great time to be a motion graphics designer. Here are our favorites and what makes them great.

From Free to Paid - The Best Software & Plugins Motion Graphics Designers Use in 2021

There are countless plugins and programs for motion graphics designers to up their game. Whether you’re just getting started, or a seasoned pro looking to refresh your toolset, here are some top choices to consider.

Graphic animation programs are updated and changed frequently, and if you want to create super cool visuals, you should be prepared to master the essential programs - and be aware of the new additions when they are released.

I'm going to reveal some of the best motion graphics programs in every category, from the best free to paid options. Get ready, because this is your insight to the best software and plugins motion graphics artists use right now.

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The Best Software For Motion Designers

1. Adobe After Effects

If you are a complete beginner in motion graphics, then Adobe After Effects is the best first tool to master. This is an animation software that will help you create character animation, 2D vector animation, basic 3D animation, kinetic typography, visual effects, and much more.

For beginners, this motion design software may be tempting just because of the Adobe After Effects template marketplaces where designers from around the world post their projects. If you are new to motion design, or simply don't have enough time to develop your own designs, then these templates with their simple drag and drop system will help you create stunning projects.  

Adobe offers various plans for individuals, students, schools, and businesses from a 7 day free trial to annual or monthly prepaid plans. Depending on which plan you choose, the paid options vary from $20.99 to $599.88.

Best online sources to learn Adobe After Effects:

- Creative Cow
- Video Copilot
- Skillshare
- Lynda

2. Adobe Photoshop

Another program from Adobe that’s widely used by animators and graphic designers is Photoshop. It can be useful for animating graphics and composing short works. The software is quite intuitive and for newcomers, there won't be any real difficulties learning how to edit. Sure, there are various similar programs you can choose from, but by going with Adobe Photoshop you'll have an easier time incorporating the rest of the Adobe family of apps into your projects.

Photoshop Adobe offers the same 7 days of free trial and paid options from $20.99 to $599.88.

The Best online sources to learn Adobe Photoshop:

- Photoshop tutorials
- Tuts+
- Udemy
- Photoshop Cafe

Useful Resource
How to Become a Great 2D Motion Graphics Designer: A Step-by-Step Guide

3. Adobe Illustrator

Unlike Photoshop which is a pixel-based editing software, Illustrator works as a vector-based editing software. With this tool, you can compose your drawings more easily and, what's more important, you'll have access to different shaping tools, brushes, built-in templates, color adjustments, etc.

Illustrator also has its own animating tools, but for more complex projects you should use After Effects. You can also incorporate your files with other Adobe programs easily, as well as import them right into After Effects for animation. The pricing plans for Adobe Illustrator are the same as for After Effects and Photoshop.

Best online sources to learn Adobe Illustrator:

- Adobe Illustrator Tutorials
- Tuts+ : Adobe Illustrator
- Vectips
- Adobe Illustrator Trainings on Lynda
- Skillshare Adobe Illustrator Tutorials And Classes

4. Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro is a video editing program from the Adobe collection and provides some of the most powerful tools for producing high-definition videos. It can be used to trim, split, and cut your videos as well as add effects, filters, and titles to them.

Adobe Premiere Pro comes with the following pricing plans - 7 days free trial, and paid options that vary from $20.99 - $239.88.

Best online sources to learn Adobe Premiere Pro:

- Premiere Pro tutorials
- Skillshare Adobe Premiere Pro Tutorial And Classes
- TheXtremesoundz
- Larry Jordan

5. Cinema 4D

One of the relatively easy to learn programs for 3D due to its intuitive interface is Cinema 4D. This program is known for its powerful modeling, texturing, lighting, and animation features. It also supports integration with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Illustrator.

Cinema 4D offers a free trial for 14 days. If you’re a beginner, then this could be a great option for you to test your abilities in 3D modeling and animating to decide if it's worthy to purchase, since it’s quite expensive at $999/year.

Best online sources to learn Cinema 4D:

- Udemy Cinema 4D Courses
- Greyscalegorilla
- Helloluxx
- Maxon Youtube Channel

6. Houdini

If you dream to create stunning 3D animations for the film, TV, and video game industries, then Houdini should be in your spotlight. It offers a fantastic set of features for creating VFX. This program was developed by Side Effects Software, which is a leader in the animation and visual effects industry. Their contribution in the field brought the team the Academy Award of Merit for the development of the Houdini visual effects and animation system.

Compared to others, Houdini has a very different workflow and has become popular because of its flexibility to create more organic visuals of elements like fluids, explosions, fires, destruction, and smoke. It was used in the creation of many films such as Frozen, Zootopia, The Shape of Water, the Lego films, Game of Thrones, etc. So if you’d like to get into the film-making VFX industry, this is one of the programs you should learn.  

The cool thing about Houdini is that you can get a free version, "Houdini Apprentice" with all the same features as Houdini FX. The only difference is that you'll have a watermark on your edits and a render restriction of 1280x720. But this will give you a chance to master it before upgrading to the full version, which is a pricey $2,495 for annual use or $4,495 for an unlimited version.

Best online sources to learn Houdini:

- Applied Houdini
- Hipflask
- Learn Houdini on Udemy
- Entagma

The Best After Effects Plugins

Let’s take a look at some of the hottest new plugins!

DUIK, RubberHose

These two plugins are known for their easy to use systems and will help you to rig and animate simple characters. They’re designed for After Effects, so you'll be able to jump right into one of these plugins and start your editing within AE.

Price:

Duik - Free
RubberHose - $45

Dugr

Dugr is a layers manager system created for After Effects. It will help you hide or replace the layers within AE and provides a more organized and precise workflow.
Price: Free

Red Giant

If you want to add amazing effects to your videos, this plugin will become your favorite. It offers a wild range of tools and professional quality effects so you'll be able to take your videos to the next level. You can use this plugin both in After Effects and Premiere Pro.

Price: $599 (1 year subscription)

Plexus

Plexus offers different tools that to help you create professional-level animations. It’s one of the most important motion design plugins within AE, so it pays to get familiar with it to create effective projects with this plugin.


Final Words

One of the great things about motion graphics is the constant new additions to the tools available for designers. It seems every year there’s a great new addition that can make videos look even more amazing. Be sure to check back regularly for the latest plugin information!

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing.

For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

text element using
the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • wS
  • asasA
  • ASas

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