3D animation software

Bring complex CG characters and worlds to life

Whether you’re just starting out or already a seasoned pro, Autodesk 3D animation software can help you create beautiful content faster, more collaboratively, and without creative limits.

Image courtesy of Qvisten Animation

3D animation of astronaut floating

Image courtesy of Amaru Zeas

Meet growing demand with powerful 3D animation workflows

With an appetite for high-quality animated content soaring and timelines getting tighter, studios need powerful 3D animation tools and workflows to scale efficiently and keep up with demand. Autodesk solutions can help address these challenges.

Autodesk 3D animation software powers 3D pipelines

Produce high-quality animated content, faster

Young boy dangling feet over water and staring up at the sky

Create beautiful 3D animations

Whether you’re after a stylized or hyper-realistic look, feature-rich tools and workflows can help you bring your animated content to life. From hair, fur, and skin to intricate environments, add the finest details to characters and scenes, and deliver high-quality work that keeps clients coming back.

Image courtesy of Gal Yosef

Iterations of sprawling environment with mountains and trees

Increase creative iterations

The creative process is highly iterative. You may review an animated scene, character, or asset dozens of times before you decide it’s done. Powerful 3D animation workflows allow you to iterate faster, pinpoint where to make changes in real time, and avoid breaking creative flow.

Image courtesy of Rashed Abdullah

Dragon blowing fire in front of fiery archway

Optimize the artist experience

From modeling environments to creating CG characters with realistic facial expressions and movement, an optimal user experience can have a huge impact on productivity. Artist-friendly and intuitive 3D modeling, animation, and rendering workflows help you manage your most complex characters and scenes with ease.

Image courtesy of Hamid Reza Abbasi

Sci-fi cityscape

Improve pipeline performance

Pipelines sit at the heart of a studio’s success. A high performing 3D animation pipeline allows you to quickly optimize resources, identify gaps, and adapt production schedules and plans in real time. With a professional production management tool in place, you remove bottlenecks, streamline work processes, and improve communication flow between teams.

Image courtesy of Manuel Vendramin

Solutions for creating quality 3D animation

Explore the phases of the 3D animation pipeline—from character and environment creation to final lighting and rendering.

3D modeling

Create CG assets and characters for animated TV series and feature films.


Motion capture

Apply physical movement by actors to digital character models.


3D rendering

Add final touches such as lighting, shading, and textures to your animation.


Creative project management

Manage animation projects smoothly, no matter how many teams, artists, or assets are involved.


Build a complete 3D animation pipeline

Scale your studio’s rendering and simulation capabilities, while equipping artists with powerful modeling and animation tools

3D animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software for film, games, and TV

3D modeling, animation, and rendering software for games and design visualization

Global illumination rendering software

3D character animation software

A review and production tracking toolset for VFX, games, and animation teams

Explore our virtual animation studio

Explore our virtual animation studio

We are producing an epic 3D animated short called Mkali's Mission using Maya, 3ds Max, Arnold, Mudbox, and Flow Production Tracking (formerly ShotGrid). To bring the project to life, we hired freelance artists from across the globe for modeling, rigging, animation, visual effects, look development, and rendering.

See how artists worldwide use Autodesk 3D animation software

Discover how our customers use Autodesk 3D animation software to create their projects.

CG mom and cub polar bears on an ice cap


Making award-winning animated short Migrants

The team behind Visual Effects Society Student Award winning animated short, Migrants, share a break-down of their technique.


Image courtesy of the Migrants team

Young girl with dirt on face looking up in surprise


Remote workflows before remote workflows

Learn about the making of Mila, an animated short on the harsh realities of war, created by an entirely remote team of artists.


Image courtesy of Cinzia Angelini

Pirate pointing finger


Re-adapting Captain Sabertooth for every audience

An iconic character in Norwegian pop culture, Qvisten took on the challenging feat of re-creating Captain Sabertooth for a new medium.


Image courtesy of Qvisten Animation

3D animation software FAQs

Learn more about 3D animation software from users’ top frequently asked questions.

What is 3D animation?

3D animation uses computer graphics to make objects look like they’re moving in 3-dimensional space. Artists use 3D modeling software to build the objects. Next comes rigging, a virtual representation of an object or character’s skeleton. Animators pose the rig at strategic points so it appears to move. Newer methods of animation involve motion capture, which records an actor’s live movements for digital animation.

What are the essential skills required for 3D animation?

The most essential skills for making 3D animation are the comprehensive skills needed for animation software such as Maya or 3ds Max. These skills include creating 3D models, textures, lighting, other visual effects, and the animation itself through keyframing and/or motion capture.


There are other artistic and soft skills that will also help. Understanding the principles of animation in general—like timing, spacing, anticipation, and squash-and-stretch—will apply to 3D animation specifically, as will a knack for drawing, visual composition, color, and design. Attention to detail and soft skills like problem solving and good team communication are also important.

How long does it take to create a 3D animation?

Creating a 3D animation takes a considerable amount of time, as well as skills and organization. The specific time it takes for 3D animation depends on the animation’s complexity and required detail, the number and experience level of contributors, the length of the animation, and the specific hardware and software technologies.


A very simple 3D animation may take only a few hours, or it could take several days to create a 30-second clip. Popular feature-length 3D animated movies almost universally require a large team and multiple years to produce.

Can 3D animation be used in virtual reality (VR) experiences?

Yes, 3D animation can be and quite frequently is used in VR experiences. 3D animations help build out the immersive and interactive environments of VR. Their ability to represent hyper-realistic surroundings with life-like textures, physics, lighting, etc. can make VR worlds convincing to the user.


However, 3D animations intended specifically for VR use need to factor in concerns like user interactivity, potential motion sickness, and so on. Those concerns contribute to making 3D animations for VR even more complicated to create than 3D animations for traditional screens.

Which Autodesk software is best for 3D animation?

Autodesk offers a complete suite of tools for creating high-quality animated content.

  • 3ds Max offers a rich and flexible toolset for modeling 3D assets and environments.
  • Maya has the animation toolset to bring 3D assets to life, from animating attributes of any object to transforming joints and bones, IK handles, and models over time.
  • Arnold is integrated with Maya and 3ds Max, enabling high-quality previews and quick iterations.
  • Using MotionBuilder, you can capture, edit, and play back complex character animations.
  • Flow Production Tracking (formerly ShotGrid) streamlines workflows for animation studios by unifying production management, creative reviews, and pipelines

What collaboration features are included in Autodesk 3D animation software?

Autodesk software excels at making collaboration on 3D animation projects more efficient. The Media & Entertainment Collection includes all the tools necessary to build a powerful and scalable 3D animation pipeline. Add Flow Production Tracking (formerly ShotGrid) production management software to simplify animation reviews and project management and unify geographically dispersed teams.

How can Autodesk software help speed up 3D animation workflows?

Autodesk software drives efficiency in 3D animation workflows. From 3ds Max and Maya for modeling and animation to Arnold for rendering and Flow Production Tracking (formerly ShotGrid) for production management, Autodesk software streamlines the entire process from asset creation through final output. Recent updates to both 3ds Max and Maya have focused on helping animators work more efficiently. For example, cached playback in Maya drastically increases the speed of animation playback by letting you evaluate iterations of animation right in the viewport, rather than producing multiple playblasts. Arnold is the default renderer in both 3ds Max and Maya, allowing you to see high-quality previews of animations and iterate changes fast.

Why choose 3ds Max or Maya for 3D animation?

3ds Max and Maya are both used by creative studios around the world for animation, modeling, visual effects, and rendering. 3ds Max offers a robust toolset for modeling, intuitive texturing and shading, and high-quality rendering, while Maya offers powerful tools for character creation, lifelike animation, and detailed simulations.

Read more about the differences between 3ds Max and Maya.

What is motion capture? Which Autodesk software supports motion capture workflows?

Motion capture is the process where actors’ physical movements are captured and then recreated on digital character models. This allows actors to give realistic movement to CG creatures.

You can generate motion capture data from a live actor and import it into MotionBuilder. MotionBuilder provides animators and directors with an interactive environment for fine-tuning character movement.

Rokoko’s Motion Library is now also a native plugin in Maya, providing access to thousands of affordable, high-quality character animations from the world’s top motion capture studios. The plugin allows you to search, preview, and purchase motion assets natively, right in Maya.

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