Anime Studio Debut 8 is the latest incarnation of Smith Micro Software's popular entry-level creative software aimed at animation newbies and younger students.

A fifth of the price of the Pro version, Anime Studio Pro 8, Anime Studio Debut 8 still manages to pack plenty in for less than £30, while keeping the learning curve relatively simple. A Beginner's Mode simplifies the process further with a more focused user interface, although the process still requires thought and application to avoid producing clichéd results.

Users can create art with vector-based draw and paint tools – and audio tools – directly from within the software or import drawings and photos in various popular file formats. A new feature converts files into vector images for scaling and animating more easily, while an equally new Character Wizard aims to automate the creation of fully rigged characters better with a series of slider bars.

Version 8 adds new enhanced drawing tools for creating more complex shapes and sketching styles, the ability to add a cut-out style effect to any character or object and Vector Shape Selector tool.

Anime Studio Debut 8 comes with some dull, generic characters – Jace, Liz, Lightning Man, Dexter (not the serial killer) and Anime Boy – included as standard, which are hopefully simply a stepping-stone to bigger and better things. Provided props and scenes do at least fill the dead space when you are starting off.

Additionally, Smith Micro Software offers tips and tricks along with sample animations online to hopefully get your creative juices further flowing. The software is Windows and Mac compatible out of the box, which is a bonus if you have a choice of computer platforms at home or at school.

Complete newbies should really consider budgeting for a pen tablet, such as those produced by Wacom, as creating moving images is very much a hands-on experience.

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