11 Best Free VFX Software In 2023

More and more people are searching for the best free VFX software, since the sphere of visual effect is rapidly developing. VFX stands for visual effects that are created in films and commercials by combining real footage and computer graphics.

In fact, VFX artists have several animation tools at their disposal and frequently switch between them to create a really nice-looking visualized composition.

Top 11 Best Free VFX Software

While compiling this list, I had the desire to satisfy both amateur and professional artists. So, some visual effect software are even suitable for creating Hollywood files.

1. Adobe After Effects

Best video editor
  • Regular updates and top-level tools
  • Tight integration with other Adobe programs
  • Cloud storage
  • Lots of beautiful transitions
  • Steep learning curve

Verdict: After Effects is the top-grade program, which you can use to spice up you footage with interesting effects. However, you need to devote some time to figure out how each separate function and tool works. Here you can find instruments to create awesome broadcast, film-ready animations and titles and the overall toolset deserves special praise.

Another remarkable feature is the rotoscoping, which become indispensable when you want to add fantastic visual effects to your clips. This special effect program is compatible with Windows and Mac OS, but you can get it on your compute only through Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

  • adobe after effect interface
  • adobe after effect interface

    2. Blender

    Best cross-platform
    • Affordable
    • Open source
    • Cross-platform
    • Quite lightweight (about 50MB)
    • No documentation in the basic package

    Verdict: One of the main advantages of the program is its cross-platform nature. Blender has a large arsenal of tools for creating 3D graphics. Here you can manage particle systems, control the weights of individual particles while texturing, perform Blender animation manipulations and use external phenomena, such as wind.

    The software boasts of object tracking, which speed up the work with 3D graphics a lot. Thus, you can import RAW footage, track it, mask certain parts and reconstruct the camera movements live in the 3D scene.

    • blender interface
    • blender interface

      3. HitFilm Express

      For making epic VFX
      • Solid timeline video editor
      • Fast video editing thanks to playback features
      • Customizable and user-friendly exporting
      • You can keep on editing while exporting files
      • Low export speed
      • You need to buy add-ons to enjoy the full functionality

      Verdict: If you are fond of video editing and want to advance your skills by mastering visual effects, you should start with HitFilm Express. Just download the program, study the intuitive UI and you are sure to produce amazing visual content.

      The software has a rich collection of visual effects (more than 140 options) and allows performing compound video editing. The interface is straightforward, while the huge variety of video tutorials and guides help learn the program even quicker.

      All the above-mentioned characteristics make HitFilm Express one of the best free VFX software out there. So, you can shoot a video or use the existing one, download the software, upload footage, install VFX freebies and start producing epic visual effects that won’t leave anyone indifferent.

      Complete Hitfilm Express Review

      • hitfilm express interface
      • hitfilm express interface

        4. Krita

        For basic digital drawing
        • Optimized software
        • Sleek UI with a perfect layout
        • Lots of brushes
        • Support for layers
        • Lacks photo retouching tools
        • Updates bring lags

        Verdict: If you have just started your career and are looking for a simple VFX editing program, Krita seems to be a perfect variant. The program is resource-tolerant, so you can install it even on old PCs.

        People regularly using Krita admire its uncluttered interface, stable operation and handy, customizable tools. Here, you can perform all standard operations with photos and graphics in an efficient and hassle-free manner. There are tools designed specifically for artists doing 3D and VFX editing. For instance, you can make one-of-a-kind textures and overlays, and further export them to other programs.

        The set of painting tools is truly admirable and you can use it to make straight lines, points of vanishing and intricate forms. There is also support for layers and HDR, diverse transformation tools, masks, and a hefty set of options. Though Krita is distributed for free, it has robust functionality and can easily compete with paid analogs.

        Complete Krita Review

        • krita interface
        • krita interface

          5. GIMP

          For image manipulation
          • Understandable UI
          • Open source
          • Supports layers and masks
          • There is a version for Linux OS
          • Small number of video tutorials

          Verdict: When specialists are asked about the most powerful and feature-packed program for photo manipulations, most of them name Photoshop without hesitation. It has been a reference program in many ratings and for good reason. However, if your budget is limited and the price for Adobe product is too high for you, you can substitute it with GIMP.

          The latter has been rapidly expanding the community of devotees, and is highly popular because of its open source, free architecture. GIMP offers lots of creative tools for photo manipulations and post-processing.

          Complete GIMP Review

          • gimp interface
          • gimp interface

            6. Nuke

            For professionals
            • Auto-saves project every 5 seconds
            • Fast tools
            • High-speed previews and rendering
            • Easily handles large-format files
            • Some third-party plug-ins may lag
            • Tools for combining several clips are poorly developed

            Verdict: The list of companies and individual video editing specialists, who use Nuke for their projects, is very long. Among them, there are such famous names as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, and DreamWorks Animation. This node-based VFX software used in Hollywood has shown awesome results even with the most demanding tasks.

            A distinctive feature of Nuke Studio if compared with other compositing programs is the ability to work not only with video layers and the effects mode, but also to perform basic video editing, color grading and add interesting effects.

            • nuke interface
            • nuke interface

              7. DaVinci Resolve

              For perfect color scheme
              • Helpful timeline
              • Color Grading section for HDR editing
              • Modest system requirements
              • Embedded algorithm for GPU acceleration
              • You need to register on the developer’s official website
              • Need to fill out an application on the developer’s official site

              Verdict: This is one of the best free VFX software with a very powerful toolkit. When it comes to color gradation, there is nothing like DaVinci Resolve. The program can correct colors like no other software.

              DaVinci Resolve is oriented on professional users engaged in post-production, so its toolkit is so diverse, that you can easily find a suitable tool to work with image and sound. A free version has some limitations such as lower 4K definition, watermarks on several files, and impossibility to work cooperatively on the project, but they are of no importance for beginner users.

              • davinci resolve interface
              • davinci resolve interface

                8. 4D Cinema

                Best for animation
                • Animation
                • Very reliable
                • Procedural and polygonal modeling
                • Texturing and rendering capabilities
                • UV editing and Body painting should be improved

                Verdict: Once you open this visual effect software, you understand how powerful and universal it is. Here you can find tools for 3D modeling, animation, rendering and texturing all conveniently arranged on the toolbar. Besides, there is a huge collection of scenes, object presets and materials. 3D artists will absolutely like sculpting tools as well as Polygon and Parametric modeling features.

                Many users praise the Splines tool, which allows creating sophisticated 3D models, and Deformers meant for compressing and twisting elements without worrying about their geometric proportions. 4D Cinema is wonderful VFX software for Mac and Windows users, but remember that it can lag on weak computers. To buy the program, you need to get in touch with an official distributor.

                • 4d cinema interface
                • 4d cinema interface

                  9. Autodesk Maya

                  For 3D modeling
                  • Open source
                  • A free-form approach for 3D modeling
                  • Realistic effects and animations
                  • Rendering option
                  • Compatibility problems

                  Verdict: If you are on the lookout for the best VFX software for movies, Autodesk Maya comes with all the necessary features. It was used for producing such films as Ice Age, The Matrix, Avatar and many more. Of course, this testifies to its rich functionality and amazing capabilities. Frankly speaking, there is hardly a world-known VFX studio that has never resorted to this 3D modeling software. That’s why it is often referred to as the benchmark VFX editing program.

                  The most notable features of Autodesk Maya include polygon and symmetry modeling, interactive grooming workflow, and a hefty sculpting toolkit. This makes the program a go-to tool for pro-level 3D artists. You can use the software on Linux, Mac and Windows platforms.

                  • autodesk maya interface
                  • autodesk maya interface

                    10. Fusion

                    With virtual reality function
                    • Supports many media formats
                    • User-oriented
                    • Lots of transitions and effects
                    • You can export your files at 4K UHD 60fps
                    • May be expensive for some
                    • Rendering speed is lowered that stated

                    Verdict: The program was released over 30 years ago and over time has been upgraded to such an extent that nowadays, it is called one of the best VFX editing and digital compositing software in the world. If you doubt its capabilities, just check the list of movies that have been produced with the help of this software. There you will see such famous titles as Spider-Man 3, Sin City and Game of Thrones among others.

                    This program has such features as Camera and Planar Tracking, Virtual Reality and Planar Rotoscoping, which allow creating professional movies. Fusion is node-based software, which works smoothly on Mac, Windows and Linux devices.

                    • fusion interface
                    • fusion interface

                      11. Celtx

                      For screenwriting
                      • Environment for scenario work at different levels
                      • You can insert many files into a project
                      • Work schedule system
                      • Confusing UI
                      • No import to Word, you need to use a PDF printer

                      Verdict: While working on a new project, artists typically start with a sketch, storyboard, screenplay or script. Celtx contains all the necessary tools for that task. This software is ideal if you want to develop your script-writing skills.

                      The interface contains built-in terms and styles necessary for a professional script. In such a way, you can create elaborate and detailed screenplays. Another interesting function is integrated project coordination, allowing you to share the result of your intellectual work with your team.

                      The only minor disadvantage of this program is that you are obliged to use a free trial of the paid version when you log in to the service for the first time. When the trial period finishes, you can return to a free version.

                      • celtx interface
                      • celtx interface

                        Ann Young

                        Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger, read more

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