Table of Contents

Production Artwork

I will say right off that I am not an expert in animation artwork. This is just how I understand some of the most common artwork terms to be defined. Please feel free to contact me with a correction if I have it wrong.

Settei - Settings - Model sheets

At the begining of the production process, one of the things that needs to be decided is how each character and important object is going to look. The character designer may go through a number of different versions before deciding on the final design. Once this has been settled, a series of pencil drawings are made. These drawings will show each of the characters from a variety of different angles and wearing a variety of different clothes. The studio will then take these original settei and make multiple copies to hand out to the other artists working on the show. This is done in order to make sure that there is consistency from artist to artist.

When legitimate settei are sold, they may be the original pencil drawings made by the character designer, or they may be the studio copies that were used by the other artists. Unfortunately, there are also settei that are neither. Some people have been known to make multiple copies of settei they own so they can sell them off as the real thing. It can be difficult for a buyer to distinguish between a legitimate studio-made copy and a fake seller-made copy. Because of this, many people avoid buying settei or are only willing to pay a small amount of money for them. However, there are a few copy settei that come partially colored in or have artist’s notes and doodles on them. These copies will tend to fetch a higher price since these extras make it more likely that they were studio-made. The original settei hand drawn by the character designer will fetch an even higher price, but these are rare and can be very hard to find.

Here are a few examples of each type of settei.

As I mentioned above, creating settei is a process. Sometimes a character’s appearance can change quite a bit as concepts get presented and accepted/rejected. One example I have of this comes from The Last Unicorn. Since the movie was made from a short story instead of a manga, there were no previous drawings to go from.


Storyboards are used to map out the flow of the story. The paper that the storyboards are made on is preprinted with a series of boxes with spaces next to them for notes. The artist then pencils in the story. After that, copies are made to be distributed to the other artists on the project.

Like settei, there are legitimate original storyboards, studio-made copies and seller-made photocopies. The original penciled storyboards are rare and more valuable. Like settei, there are clues that can suggest whether or not a copy is truly studio-made or not. Look for artist notes and doodles. Since storyboards can be quite thick, many times the studio binds or staples them by episode.

Here are few examples of storyboards. Unfortunately, I do not own an original storyboard.


An artboard is a pencil sketch that shows only the background. There are no characters.

I should point out that there are many people who would categorize artboards as a type of layout (see below). This may be more accurate. I just see the term enough that I feel the need to describe its usage.


This is a pencil sketch that often represents an entire sequence. It will include both the character and the background together. Often it will have instructions indicating movement of both the character and camera as well. Many times a layout (or a copy of it) will be included in a genga set.


This category is hard to define simply because many people mean different things when they refer to gengas. Many use the it as a catch-all term that also includes artboards and layouts. Other people would say that unlike artboards and layouts, gengas normally do not include the background in the image.

Gengas are usually a series of drawings that are made of key movements in a sequence. This means there will be a genga for the starting point of the movement, the ending point of the movement, and a few points in between. Not every frame is drawn; rather, just enough to give a clear indication of how things are supposed to flow. For example, if a character is raising his hand, there will be a genga of him with his arm down at his side, one of him with his arm all the way in the air, and a few of him with his arm partway between these points. The sequence of gengas will also be numbered so that it is clear that the character is raising his hand and not lowering it.

The early genga sequences start off showing a very rough idea of how a character should move. Sometimes the gengas are so rough that it can be hard tell which character is being depicted. All the animators are interested at this point is mapping out the general shape of the movement. Once this is done to their satisfaction, the sequence is repeatedly redrawn in a bit more detail until a fairly detailed genga sequence is created. It is from these detailed genga that the key douga will be made. It can be difficult to tell if a highly detailed pencil sketch is a douga or a genga. I will go over how to tell the difference in the douga section below.

Here are a few examples of gengas. Since most gengas sets do not come complete, it is hard to find a single set that shows everthing.

Dougas (clean up sketches)

This is the last set of drawings that are made before color is filled in. Dougas show the character in an outline form exactly as they appear on screen. The key movements that were planned out in the gengas become key dougas. These key dougas are drawn by key animators, who are the more experienced artists on the team. Once the key dougas are made, the other artisits will fill in the movement that takes place in between. There will be a douga for every step of movement.

Some dougas are simple outlines, and some have detailed shading. The outlines of the drawing use fine lines in what looks like normal pencil. The shading is done in other colors. There are also sometimes instructions on the paper as to where to paint or not paint (for cel-based shows). Again, these tend to be in colors other than the standard pencil color. Over time, hand drawn dougas have disappeared from the animation process. Instead, the artists are drawing them on pads that send the images directly into the computer.

One of the most common questions I hear is “how can I tell if a sketch is a douga or a genga.” There are a few things to look for. The most important is looking at how detailed the image is. The dougas will match the image on screen in every detail. The gengas will match only approximately. Still, if you look below at the detailed Tenjho Tenge genga and the Tenjho Tenge douga side by side, they are pretty close when it comes to details and matching the screen captures.

The main way to separate which is which is the location of the sequence numbers. Gengas usually have their sequence numbers somewhere in the middle of the paper while dougas usually have their sequence numbers in the upper right corner. There are exceptions to this rule, but it works the majority of the time. The reason for the difference is the different functions these sketches serve. Dougas are copied and eventually used to add color to the characters. If the numbers were in the middle of the page, then they would show up on screen. By putting them in the upper right corner (or some other corner), they will be in a section of the drawing that is cut off by the camera. Since gengas are not used for coloring, it does not matter where the numbers go as long as they can readily be seen. In the Tenjho Tenge genga, the number A4 is clearly seen next to the character. In the Tenjho Tenge douga, the number A3 is not visible because my scanner has cut off the upper right corner.

The second thing I use is not agreed upon by other collectors. I look at the red lines on the genga; which depict where the edges of the television screen will be. Not all gengas have the red lines so the lack of them does not mean anything. I do not recall many dougas with these red lines, but there are many collectors who say that there are some dougas (that are not detailed gengas) with these red lines.


This is the step where color is added. The details of how color is added to the outlines provided by the dougas depends on when the show was made.

For shows that were made with cels, there are still a few things to be aware of. In order to save time and money in painting, cels are layered. Again, imagine a character raising his hand while the rest of his body remains still. The artist paints a cel layer that contains the character’s body. This cel layer does not include the moving arm. The artist then makes a series of second layers that lie on top of the first. These second layers contain the arm alone. Instead of having to paint the entire character over and over, all (s)he has to do is paint the single arm in different positions. The same layering can be done with mouths as the character talks, with blinking eyes or hair blowing in the wind. This layering can also be used to create special effects or to hide painting mistakes on other layers. Cels can be layered up to six deep before there is a danger of the acetate becoming visible on film. These layers are usually marked in the upper right hand corner with a letter and number. Most of the time, the bottom layer is A, the second layer is B, and so on. The number portion indicates the order that each layer was supposed to be filmed. A cel that is labelled A-3 and B-6 contains two layers of acetate. The A layer is the 3rd in its sequence and the second layer is the 6th in its sequence.

While layering the cels saves time and costs, it can create some problems for us collectors. The acrylic paints that are used are sticky so that they will adhere to the acetate. After the cel is used, it is tossed to the side. If the cels stay this way for a while, the paint will cause the cel layers to stick together. Sometimes these layers are not aligned correctly when they get stuck and collectors try to pull the pieces apart to fix this. Unfortunately, this usually ends up damaging the paint. Below are a few examples of cel layering and damaged cels.

Here are a few terms commonly used to distinguish different types of cels.

On occasion a collector will come across a cel that they cannot locate when they view the show. There are many reasons this can happen.


These are the paintings that depict the scenery behind the animated characters. In cel-based shows, there are a lot fewer backgrounds than cels. This is because the same background can often be used for an entire sequence of cels. Sometimes the backgrounds for cel-based shows are computer generated. Some CG shows have painted backgrounds and some have CG backgrounds. There are even multilayered backgrounds.


These are cels that has all of their layers, including the hand-painted background

Timing Sheet

This contains notes on a sheet or more of preprinted paper. The paper can be any color and contains many small boxes in which to indicate the order that cels are to appear in a scene as well as how long each one should remain under camera. It is very easy to identify and is often included with genga sets.

Cut Bag

This is a big envelope that contains all the cels (if a cel-based show) and dougas of a sequence. It will often contain the timing sheet for the sequence, a few gengas and maybe the layout.

Post Production Artwork

Hanken monos

Hankens are images that were not used to make the show (usually). They are created for marketing purposes. They can be used for magazines, DVD covers, posters, etc. They tend to be valuable for a couple of reasons. They are very well made since there is only going to be one image, and it has to be reproduced many times during its lifetime. They also tend to show the characters in good positions and wearing nice outfits. They are often very recognizable. Even if someone has never seen the TV show, odds are they have seen a poster or magazine article (with picture) about the show. Sometimes a production image will be used for a hanken. This happens a lot with making the box covers for DVDs. I think everyone has seen cases where images from a show are reproduced and enlarged to be printed on the cover.

Hankens go through the same process as production artwork. First a rough genga (or series of gengas) is made, then a douga, and finally a cel. Of course, the more recent shows use CG. These skip the cel part so there may be only gengas and dougas available.

Rilezu Cels

When cels were no longer used to make anime, there was a hole left in the collecting world. Many people collected cels for their colors and their uniqueness. Rilezu cels are an attempt to fill this void. Just as each production cel is unique, so is each rilezu. Basically, it is a limited edition of one. The cels are hand painted and, if anything, the painting is of a higher quality than is found in most production cels. This is mainly due to the fact that there are a lot fewer of them produced, and the artists are not under the same time constraints. The downside is that it is often very difficult to reproduce the exact computer generated colors in acrylic paint form. Even when the exact color is known, there are a lot of additional special effects added to CG series which then change the way the colors appear. Sometimes the color problem is severe. Sometimes it is not so bad. A lot of this seems to depend on the company making the cels and the amount of CG alteration the images went through. These cels are licensed with the parties who own the copyrights for the image.

Reproduction Cels

These are basically limited edition cels. Just how many cels of a particular image is made varies by show. The producers of these cels have permission from the copyright holders to make the cels. The quality of these cels can vary quite a bit. I do not follow this market too closely so I am not sure what percentage are hand painted and what percentage are machine produced. A Chroma Cel is a brand name for a type of reproduction cel. If anyone has better information on this please let me know.

Fan cels

A fan cel is a cel that is made by someone who enjoys painting and anime. Many fan artists are in it for fun and not to make a living. In fact, it would be pretty much impossible to make a living off of being a fan cel artist. Most of the costs of a fan cel is for the materials and very little is for the labor. The two main reasons fan cels are popular is that they are relatively inexpensive and buyers can often request a particular image. Since fan artists tend to not have access to expensive professional animation equipment, their cels are usually hand inked and painted. Most of the time the artist is commissioned to reproduce a particuar image, but sometimes the artists will create their own images. The quality can vary quite a bit from artist to artist. These cels are created in violation of copyright law. While this is a big problem with American animation, it seems to be less so with Japanese animation. Part of this has to do with distance and language barriers. Part of this has to do with there being a strong tradition of fan created writings and artwork amoung the Japanese.