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Anime production Artworks 101

Once upon a time, before evil computers seized power, anime were handmade by fine craftsmen and craftswomen inside well-guarded animation studios.


Their hands pencilled and painted unique drawings, celluloids and backgrounds which were utilised to make actual anime.


The images you see watching your favorite anime are these very same celluloids animated over backgrounds.










Gengas &








01. Scripts

Anime production starts with the production of a script containing all dialogues as well as contextual indications of what will happen on screen during a given episode or movie.

Scripts, alongside storyboards and settings will form the basis from which animators will draw and conceive anime.

2289.Naruto, Episode 244 script (2002-2017).jpg

02. Storyboards

Storyboards are booklets translating scripts into the visual world and providing  animators with useful details which will help them drawing and animating episodes or movies.

They contain rough drawings drawn on small rectangle boxes on the left-hand side which each summarise a cut (there is a new cut each time camera changes place).

The columns on the right-hand side contain indications on characters' movements and guidance for camera movements as well as key bits of dialogues.

1408 3.jpg

Travelling effect

When a drawing occupies multiple boxes on a storyboard, that means there will be a travelling effect and the relevant drawings, celluloids and backgrounds will be of panoramic (or pan) size, which collectors treasure.

Celluloids (seruga, セル画)

Celluloid, cellulo, cel, cello... different names to describe the transparent plastic sheets (cellulose acetate to be precised) with black contour lines printed on the front and characters or background elements painted on the back.


Animated over backgrounds, celluloids correspond to actual shots of anime episodes or movies.

One advantage of celluloids is that they can be layered, meaning animators didn't need to redraw entire shots multiple times, instead making up fixed layers combined with moving ones (e.g. a mouth opening and closing, legs moving, etc.).

Celluloids are typically 23 x 26.5 cm for TV anime and 23 x 35 cm for movies and include three oval punched holes on the top so that they could be positioned consistently for the photograph stage.

Pan (or oversized) cel

Large size celluloid (often twice the size of a regular cel) used for horizontal or vertical scrolling

Bank cel (BANK セル)

Celluloid utilised multiple times in a series (e.g. a character's attack move) and which is often drawn with particular care

Harmony cel (ハーモニーセル画)

Grail for collectors, harmony cels are used to freeze and emphasize a scene through a layer drawn like a rough sketch with a multitude of lines

Hanken cel

Special cel used for promotional materials like trading cards, magazine or commercials


Layouts are key drawings that summarise a cut, often a larger version of the rough drawings featured in storyboards. They can be more or less refined depending on the animators.

Layouts generally feature a rectangle corresponding to the area that viewers will see on screen, with anything outside this area not visible in final production.


Episode number are most often stamped at the top of layouts and cut number written in the top left part of layouts.


Sets of dogas and gengas occasionally come with black and white copies of layouts. These copies were provided as guidance to animators in charge of drawings dogas and gengas.