There are a number of full-price, professional-level software products that can be used to create animated stick characters, including Adobe Flash, Toon Boom and Toonz. There are also a number of free animation programs, such as Pencil and Synfig.
Paid software versus free software
Some professional-level animation software can be very expensive. TVPaint, for example, retails at over $500 on average. Beginners or hobbyists are often best served by finding free alternatives or trying 30-day free trials offered by some software providers before committing to professional-level programs.
Free software options
In addition to Pencil and Synfig, Plastic Animation Paper, or PAP, is another free option. PAP allows users to draw directly into the program, which removes the time-consuming process of having to scan in hand-drawn images. However, the software is only available for Windows, meaning Mac users will have to try the alternative free options.
Programs for kids
There are also a number of 2D animation programs designed especially for children. These include Flip Boom Cartoon and Anime Studio Debut, both of which are professional retail packages and are normally sold in the region of $50. These packages can also be very good for beginners of any age due to their simplicity and ease of use.