The following is a list of recommended hardware and software for students entering the Animation Program. Items noted with an asterisk* will be put to use in the early animation classes.  Others can be added strategically as the need and personal budget allows. Many items are available through the CMU Book Store.





Required and Recommended General Technology

Digital Drawing Requirements & Recommendations

Laptop Recommendations

Software Recommendations






Required and Recommended General Technology

*Portable Hard Drive



1TB Standard Drive:


LightTracer LED Lightbox - Light boxes are provided in our traditional media class but if you would like to invest in your own the following are recommended.


LightTracer - 10 x 12 inch Drawing Board

LightTracer 2 - 12 x 18 inch Drawing Board

*Mini Phone Tripod with Wireless Remote: Required for ART207 and ART327

Mini Phone Tripod, Adjustable Camera Holder with Wireless Remote

Download the Stop Motion Studio App for free:


Android: Google Play/Stop Motion Studio

iPhone: Apple Store/Stop Motion Studio





Digital Drawing Requirements & Recommendations


*Bluetooth Digital Drawing Tablet: *Required for most animation classes outside of labs WI 224 and WI 221.

Wacom Intuos Bluetooth Digital Drawing Tablet - (Small) - Affordable option if you're watching your budget.


XenceLabs Professional Pen Tablets - Small - Pro option that's built to last if you can swing it. Check with the bookstore as CMU has a considerable price break.


*Cintiq Pens: Required for use in Animation Lab WI 224

Wacom INTUOS4/CINTIQ21 Grip Pen for use in the animation lab

Pen Display Options: Typically I recommend that students wait a year and use the lab Cintiqs before jumping into what should be a long-term investment in a Pen Display. The big price break is the leap from HD to 4K. 4K is not essential but it's definitely the future of digital media. Size is another consideration. Personally, I find the 16 is about as small as I want to go. 13" is pretty small but if portability and afford-ability make them worth considering. If you're looking at the higher end, XenceLabs 24 4K is about the sweetest thing to hit the market in years.

Wacom One 13 HD Digital Drawing Tablet with Screen - review

HUION KAMVAS Pro 13 HD Graphics Drawing Monitor

XP Pen Artist Pro 16 HD Drawing Display

Cintiq Pro 16 4K Creative Pen and Touch Display

HUION Kamvas Pro 24 4K UHD Graphics Drawing Tablet - review

XenceLabs 24 4K Pro Pen Display - review

Cintiq Pro 24 4K UHD IPS Creative Pen Display





Laptop Recommendations


Owning a graphics-capable laptop as your enter advanced-level animation classes is recommended but not required. While the Animation and Graphic Design labs are exclusively Mac OS, PC laptops can be considered a viable option if the technical specifications are comparable with the links below. 


A couple of things to keep in mind. . .

If you’re planning on a path in 3D animation you’ll want to lean towards the beefier version of the options listed.

If you’re thinking 2D animation, and you have the funds, you may want to consider a digital drawing display in the future. 


Mac: 15 inch Macbook Pro 2.6GHz


PC: Obviously there are many choices as to style and brand.  You will want a laptop that gamers use.  The following are minimum specs for a PC that will support animation graphics and last a while. 


This article offers a range of options:




Software Recommendations


As far as software goes, our program focuses on Toon Boom Harmony, Maya, Dragonframe and the following from the Adobe suite; Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Bridge, Media Encoder and Audition. 


A syncing program is highly recommended for backing up your work.  All-sync is a multi-platform sync program available for free.  We use Mac-based ChronoSync in the labs.


All the labs are fully loaded so you shouldn't need any software to get started.  Working outside of the labs is also recommended so you want to have a laptop that can push the software you need. This good news is that CMU is an Adobe Creative Campus so you have access to the entire Adobe suite for free. We are also part of the Toon Boom Center of Excellence, which means students who need to install Harmony on their personal tech can do so for free. As for other programs, you may want to wait until you’ve taken some classes to figure out how to best spend your money. 





















Stephan Leeper/Central Michigan University 2023