Keys' Little Anime Cel and Animation Art FAQ

What type of sketch is this? Is this a douga, layout, genga, rough? How can I tell sketches apart?
    Some people only divide up sketches into genga and douga. Some people prefer to be more precise in dividing up the pre-production sketches. This can make things difficult if someone selling says a cel comes with genga as it widens what genga can mean and the buyer can get wildly different qualities of paperworks.

First off, the douga is what is used to directly make a cel. It will often have registration holes and a sequence number. Its lines will match up with those on the cel, the graphite lines with the black lines and the other lines with the colored hand painted trace lines on top. Some douga, especially from non-CG series, will also have some shading on them and penned in notes about where not to paint or what color to use.

To some, genga means everything that comes before hand. To others, genga only means the final finished drawing that the key animator makes for the key frame in the cut. It can be extremely difficult to tell apart this finished genga from a very good rough or a clean up depending on how well they are done. Some good ways of telling are to ask a very trusted seller who knows genga well or check printed genga collections by artists (if those are available).

One piece of pre-production artwork that's relatively easy to tell from a finished genga is the layout. The layout differs in many ways. First off, it's usually done on a pre-printed sheet with a box already drawn on to indicate the screen size and maybe blanks at the top to indicate series, episode number, and cut number. Furthermore, while roughs, genga, clean-ups, and douga tend to only be drawings of what appears on the cel, the layout will have the full scene, character on background. Some layouts are done really roughly while others are gorgeous. Sometimes photocopies of the layouts come with cels, sometimes original layouts do. Sometimes the photocopies are colored to show which part is the cel. The photocopies are generally used in pre-production.

Storyboards are also done with pre-printed paper (usually rectangles in columns of two or four) but they are much more unlikely to come wiht a cel.

Some times the clean ups can be identified by being high quality but only parts of the image (the parts that needed to be corrected). Often times clean ups are done on a non-white sheet of paper. However, both of these aren't hard and fast ways of telling, it differs from studio to studio, person to person, and cut to cut.

Of course, some roughs are very easy to tell as roughs. The drawing is just far from finished or fleshed out. It's the roughs further down the line that can be really difficult to pick out.

How are glowing effects done?
    Glowing effects on screen can be done multiple ways, here are a few:

Airbrushing -- A halo is airbrushed around to create a 'glowing' look

Lighting -- Part of the cel that glows may be painted black on the cel. The cel is filmed. Another cel with everything black but the black part on the other cel is filmed with light shining through the back. The images are superimposed during post production.

What is backlighting?
    Backlighting is used for a variety of effects. It involves shining light from behind the cel during filming instead of or in addition to on the cel.

What is airbrushing?
    Airbrushing as a noun refers to painted detail on a cel done with an airbrush. This looks like a soft small spray painting. It is used for many special effects including rain, halos, glowing, blushing, dust, wind, and very fine detailing.

Airbrushing on a cel is very fragile and easily scraped/marred. It is generally done on the front of a cel.

What does kabuse mean? What is a correction layer?
    In japanese, 'kabuse' (vaguely pronounced 'kah-boo-seh')means 'cover.' A kabuse layer (sometimes marked on top with 'kabuse' in Japanese), is one that often repeats the image and trace lines of the layer below it, only makes corrections. This can be done to cover up mispaintings (wrong color), changes in detail (maybe the director decided he wanted something slightly different), or poor quality (maybe the trace lines were a bit spotty and needed to be doubled). This can also be referred to as a correction layer.

What are misaligned layers?
    Misaligned layers are acetate cel sheets from the same sequence which are stuck to each other but not as they appeared on screen. For example, maybe someone's hair is stick slightly off such that one can see clear space between them. Another example may be that one character is stuck slightly pulled back from another character whereas they were on top of each other in filming.

What are hand-inked trace lines?
    Hand-inked trace lines are trace lines not done with a copying machine but done with paint by a human. This was done for older cels (1970s and beforehand) and is done for many hanken cels still. These are generally done on the front of the cel while copying machines lines are done on the back of the cel.

What is settei? What are model sheets?
    Settei or model sheets are standard drawings of characters, mecha, and objects that are copies and distributed amongst the staff such that art can be consistent. Often production copies of these are sold. Sometimes they are called conte or continuity (though that term has a couple meanings as well). These will show characters and objects from many angles with many expressions. Some of these illustrations generally make their way to anime magazines such as Newtype.

Original settei (the actual original drawings) are sold more rarely.

Bound non-production copies of these for fans are often called '(Creative) Materials Collections'.

What is conte? What are storyboards?
    Conte or 'Continuity' are also known as Storyboards. They are sheets of paper with two rows of boxes running down them. In the smaller box, a very rough sketch of a shot or scene is drawn. In the longer box, notes about filming and general flow are written. Copies of these are made and distributed so that scenes can be determined into cuts and turned into genga and eventually cels. Often these are drawn by the animation director or the head director.

The production copies are often seen for sale, especially at Mandarake. The originals are sometimes for sale as well.

I've also seen 'Conte' refer to settei (model) sheets.

What is a timesheet? What is a timechart? What is an exposure or dope sheet?
    A timesheet or timechart is a piece of paper which shows which cels in a sequence or cut will be used when and for how long. There is generally one per cut. Most I have seen have been green with lots of blue boxes or orange with lots of red boxes. They are generally a couple sheets of paper long. They contain information such as the series name, episode number, cut number and then the time for each cel for each layer of the sequence organized down a vertical column spread.

Timesheets are sometimes found with cels. Sometimes a non-matching timesheet will come with a cel.

I have been informed that the western term for this is 'exposure sheet' but it is often just refered to as a 'dope sheet.'

What does it mean if the cel is painted on top?
    Sometimes instead of making a correction layer, a coloring error is fixed by painting the appropriate color on top of the cel. Only by watching closely can it be caught in a book or on screen. However, it does somewhat change the appearance in person, especially since dirt will more easily stick to the exposed paint.

What does sakuga kantoku mean?
    This is a term for a position on the animation staff. It generally means 'Animation Supervisor.' This person makes sure all the genga drawings are on model (in with the art style of the series). He goes through and makes changes as needed. Sometimes the correction drawings he does (usually included with genga packets) are marked 'sakuga' or 'sakuga kantoku' as well but the proper term is 'shuusei.' Often these correction drawings appear on green or yellow paper but it highly varies from studio to studio.

What is a cut bag?
    The term cut bag can mean two different things. Literally, a cut bag is the manila/interoffice envelope used to contain a cut/sequence as well as the timing sheet and maybe associated drawings. This keeps everything together for transport within the studio. It is generally marked on the outside with the series name, episode number, and cut number and stamped with various markers.

Some people sell 'cut bags' as the envelope and its contents (a full sequence of cels).

What does CG, DP or DIP mean?
    CG stands for 'Computer Generated' or 'Computer Graphics'. DP stands for 'Digitally Painted' or 'Digital Paint'. DIP stands for 'Digital Ink & Paint'. These terms when used by the English-speaking cel collecting community generally mean that instead of using cels, an animation was done with the aide of computers, either through full rendering or by coloring digitally.

Some people will use CG to solely apply to pieces which were fully rendered.

What does a circled sequence number mean?
    A circled sequence number generally indicates that the douga/cel is a direct descendent of a genga drawing instead of being a (be)tweener. This means that it is a key frame/cel.

While the douga sequence number is usually circled, it is much more uncommon for the sequence number on the cel to be circled, even if it's a key cel.

How is a cel made? Can you summarize the production process?
    Volumes could be written on the animation process but I will try to summarize very briefly.

First off, the animation production (TV series episode, OVA episode, movie) is conceived, scripted, and budgeted and the staff is assembled. From there, the director, animation director and other high level staff get together to set the model standards if they haven't been established in prior episodes (usually each new episode will need some new models with guests character, monsters, objects and the linke) and then storyboard out the episode.

Once the storyboards are finalized, cuts are divided up among the key animators who create roughs, layouts and eventually genga and key frames. From there, the specification supervisor will do another set of drawings to touch up the genga work and make sure everything is on model. These sheets are then sent out to the 'tweeners who create douga for each frame.

Meanwhile, the background specs are sent off to a different person or perhaps a different production house in order to have the backgrounds created. I think in general these separate people also need the douga in order to make sure the backgrounds they created will align themselves properly.

The douga is used to photocopy black lines onto acetate. From there, cel painters splotch single colors on at a time according to speculation. When all of this is finished and dried, the cels are sent back to be checked and filmed. Sometimes things are not adequately checked or even adequately dried before filming.

Why does my tome cel have no background?
    Sometimes, backgrounds are used for multiple cuts. The background may have been packaged with a different cut it was used for. Also, the tome cel may have been backlit and not had a background. The distributor of the cels may have chosen to put the background elsewhere or sell it separately. A collector who had the cel before you may have chosen to keep the background or sell it separately.

Why is this cel painted mostly or all black? Why is this cel painted with only black?
    There is a good chance that if a cel is only painted black (with maybe someparts being unpainted) that it is used for some sort of glowing or lighting effect. Basically, light shines through from behind the cel (instead of shining onto the cel) to create the glow. To make sure the glow is only in some areas, the black portion blocks out the light. This is then superimposed with another shot with the characters on it. For alignment purposes, there is also an inverse cel with only the areas that are supposed to be glowing painted black.

Why is there all of this extra blank acetate on my oversized/pan cel?
    There are several reasons why an oversized cel may be cut with what seems to be a 'waste of acetate.' One likely reason is that during the sequence, the whole size is used. This might mean that there is another layer with another character that overlays in the blank portion and the cels are just cut uniformly to that size. It might mean that the character moves along the blank portion (in an oversized cel, the camera may not be moving/zooming at all times, or it could be part of the effect). It could be that in that portion of the sequence, the camera is zoomed in so that the rest of the image doesn't need to be there.

Also, the cel might just be that size because there was miscommunication in how to cut it or there happened to be already cut sheets that size handy.

What is a pencil test?
    The pencil test is a preview of the rough animation. It is a production/filming of the rough drawings (sometimes done with a Quick Action Recorder (QAR) or a computer program). This is done to help time the shots and determine how many cels/inbetweens are needed for the type of motion the shot requires. Some people may mistakenly use the term 'pencil test' to refer to rough drawings or douga.


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