Create your own 2D animation or cartoon using freeware software – Pencil

Written by Chaks

Topics: Software Review, Ubuntu, Windows

If you are an animation lover and want to build your own simple animation or cartoon then this freeware application called Pencil is for you. Pencil is an animation/drawing software for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. It lets you create traditional hand-drawn animation (cartoon) using both bitmap and vector graphics. Pencil is free and open source which is intended to be a simple program enabling anyone to make 2D animation.

Pencil Animation

Pencil has many tools like Paint Brush, Polyline, Eraser, Modify Curve, Select Tool, Clear Button, Pen Tool, Color Picker, Paint Bucket, Move Tool and Zoom Canvas which can assist you making drawings and filling colors. A Pencil document is organized in layers. There are currently four types of layers: bitmap image, vector image, sound and camera. The Time Line window at the bottom of the screen shows the existing layers and you can change the name of the layers by double clicking on the layer name. By default, a new document contains a bitmap layer and a vector layer on top of it, but you can add and delete layers as you wish. You can adjust the Fps  i.e., Frames Per Second setting to a number to control the speed of the animation.


Pencil, though a small application, has quite a few features that can come handy at times.

  • Basic drawing tools
  • Bitmap drawing
  • Vector drawing
  • Camera View
  • Sound Layer
  • Zoom and rotation. Click and Drag the mouse left button up or down while holding the Ctrl key for Zoom in / out
  • Animating, Repeated Animating, Adjustable FPS
  • Adjusting keys
  • Importing images

Pencil allows you to create cartoons, animate images and add audio. You can create the Animation by adding multiple images or frames and then playing the sequence. The Bitmap layer and Vector layer can be used to draw images. A camera layer lets you define a particular view, with a certain aspect ratio, within your unlimited canvas. What’s more, you can define a view for each key of the camera track, and the view is linearly interpolated between the keys.

Pencil application is a portable application of size 5 MB and doesn’t require installation. There is a well documented user’s manual that can teach all the basics and the advance features of the application. You can have a look at the user manual here

Version: v0.4.4

System Requirements

Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8; Mac OS X 10.3.9+, Linux


You can download the Pencil application here or from the sourceforge site

19 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. britney says:

    thz so much i spent a year looking for something like this now i have found it!!!

  2. prem says:

    i hope i get it free

  3. RIYA says:

    is this a free download? please reply

  4. Smith says:

    yes Riya and also it mentioned in the title.

  5. I am interested in Animation and graphics design.I am looking for universities who can provide me Bsc degree.I would prefer 2D and 3D animation.Do you have any knowledge of any good university?

    2D Animation Delhi

    Warm regards

  6. Noah says:

    Rooze Rooze Rouchy is a popular animated show that has just been made in the mooches, down if someone made up ROUCHBURG and Rooze Rooze Rouchy.

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  10. Jane B. Doe says:

    This is an absolutely free piece of software. Used to love, love, LOVE Pencil. However, it is useless in OSX 10.8. If you upgrade to Mountain Lion, you will not be able to use Pencil. Anyone know if they plan on updating it to work with Mountain Lion?

  11. Rajan K says:

    Don’t think so. This software is not in active development. Mountain Lion is 64bit OS. That might be the problem it is not running on ML. You can consider using this tool on any 32 bit OS on Virtual environment.

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