OpenToonz Review

So OpenToonz is a new free, open-source animation program that has been used by Studio Ghibli and on shows like Futurama and Steven Universe. It's pretty cool that it's now free to use, but is it any good?

I've been experimenting with OpenToonz a fair bit since it's come out and for the most part I'm pretty excited by it. Not only is it cool that it's completely free and open-source, but it's a strong program for making more traditional 2D animation, there are however a few things that stood out to me.


It crashes, a lot. I was never really able to recreate why it would crash each time, so it doesn't seem to be that there is one thing it can't handle. It just seemed to crash randomly here and there. Now Flash used to crash a lot too, but this seemed more random than the way Flash would crash. Once you got to a certain point in Flash it would crash, but OpenToonz would crash on me when I was setting up projects here and there so it wasn't trying to process a ton of information. So if you're working in OpenToonz make sure that quick saving becomes your best friend.

As I talked about in my article about setting up OpenToonz, a lot of the windows you would think vital aren't available when you first open the program. That's a little strange to me that you have to go poking around to turn on stuff like the toolbar or timeline, in OpenToonz case it's called the Xsheet. It's a minor complaint but it's something that I found frustrating when navigating around the program.

I also seemed to run into an issue when I was going to draw some animation. I wanted to do a bouncing ball and it seemed to have trouble making new frames automatically after my first frame was drawn. I eventually got it fixed by doing a restart and resetting up a project, but that is a little frustrating and kind of worrisome to me. What if that happened when I was half way through a project and had to restart the whole thing? I'd cry.


What I do like about the program however is it's ability to combine hand drawn and digital animation. I don't know any other program that allows you to bring in scanned drawings and polish them digitally as well as OpenToonz does.

I'm still new to OpenToonz so I don't know all of it's ins and outs yet, but it's an incredibly deep program. The ability to animate, then clean up that animation, have color swatches on your pallet, bring in real hand drawn animation to digitize, all really nice.

The biggest thing I like about OpenToonz? It's open-source. I know I'm not alone in dealing with it crashing, a lot of people are talking about it. The fact that it's open-source though means that I am positive someone right now in this very moment is working on a fix for that issue.

Much like early adopters of new iPhones or video game consoles, there are always some bugs and hiccups that need to get ironed out. Things will be streamlined, performance will be optimized, the usual stuff. The good news though, is that since it is open-source, all of those updates and improvements are going to come a lot quicker than if we were waiting around for the original company to make those changes. Now stuff will role out as it's developed, rather than in one big update package.

Final Impressions

Overall it's a little bit of a clunky program, the design and layout seem a tad outdated and it's not as streamlined as it could be. However, it's incredibly powerful to do traditional 2D animation. Should you download and play around with OpenToonz? Of course you should it's free, why wouldn't you? You literally have nothing to lose here. Do I think you'll jump ship on whatever program you're most familiar with right now? Not yet, maybe once the community around it really polishes it up. Is it a new strong competitor to programs like Adobe Animate? Definitely.

So if you're new to animation, or just want to play around, there is no better place to start than OpenToonz. I love that it's free, I love how powerful it is, and I love that it will only get better.