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Anime "Cel" (short for "Celluloid", セル画 in Japanese) is a transparent sheet of plastic used in the production of animation. Each frame of an animation is hand drawn and painted on the cel, placed over a background (often painted with watercolour) and photographed in sequence to create the vision of movement.

This first video illustrates how an animation sequence for Sailor moon is produced: 

  • 0:32: Creating the Storyboard

  • 0:48: Producing the Douga

  • 0:58: Checking that the Dougas form a sequence

  • 1:18: Xerographing the Douga onto a cel (alternatively, the outline on the Douga may be hand traced onto a cel)

  • 1:39: Painting the Cel

  • 1:57: Preparing the Background

  • 2:05: Scanning each Cel with its matching Background



The second video is the sequence that was being produced in the first video


A shot is often made up of multiple frames and each frame may involve multiple layers. For example, this cel is marked "A6". 

"A" denotes the bottom layer. "B" is the layer above "A", "C" is the layer above "B" and "A" and so on. 

"6" denotes the 6thth frame of the sequence.

Key Cels


Certain frames have additional markings:

  • Circled numbers, e.g. A①, B①: denotes a key cel of the sequence and is often handled by a senior member of the animation team (a "Key Animator")

  • Marked with "End", "止め" / "止" / "トメ": last frame of the sequence. End cels are also considered a key cel and is therefore also often handled by a Key Animator

Opening Cel

An opening cel is one that is used for the opening sequence of the anime.

Ending Cel

An ending cel is on that is used in the ending sequence of the anime.

Bank Cel

A bank cel is one that is repeatedly used across multiple episodes. For example, any cel from a transformation or attack sequence from Sailor moon would be a Bank Cel.

Book Cel

A cel that has a foreground and a background, forming the front and the cover of a book. The cel(s) are sandwiched in between.