Damaged Dougas

damaged amalthea background

Damage can occur not only when cel layers get stuck together, but also when the cel gets stuck to paper. Most of the time it is the douga that gets stuck to the cel. This is because the studios seem to store the dougas with the cels. Occasionally, other paper products will get stuck to the cel. I have also seen stuck gengas, copy layouts, backgrounds and rice paper.

The example to the right is a typical example of a damaged douga. You can see where the part where Amalthea’s mouth is supposed to be has been lost. There is also a second area in her hair that has been peeled back, but is still present.

damaged unicorn background

Here is an example of a more severely damaged douga. I scanned this one with a piece of wood behind it so the holes are obvious. As damaged as this douga is, I have seen far worse around. Many times they are completely torn into two or more pieces.

Most of the time when it is a douga or background stuck to the cel, forcing the layers apart damages the paper more than the cel. I think this is because the acetate is generally sturdier than the paper. Still, both will probably receive some damage if the removal is not done very carefully. I have heard of a number of methods to safely remove paper from cels. These include “the freezer method”, “the water method”, and using dental or surgical instruments. None of them are completely satisfactory in my opinion. All of them will cause damage to the paper, though with extreme care you may be able to save the cel. Even professional restoration people have a difficult time removing the paper products safely. The damage to the unicorn douga above was done by a restoration company with an excellent reputation. They stopped when they realized they were going to damage the douga, but I decided I would rather save the cel from the damage that would have come over time due to continued contact with the acid in the paper. Despite how bad the douga looks, I know I would have done far worse if I had tried this myself. It was completely plastered to the cel when I got it. Fortunately, there was no damage to the cel and no further restoration was done to either piece.

I should point out that the reason both the above examples are from The Last Unicorn is because this show is the worst offender I have seen with regard to stuck paper products. In fact, ALL of my Last Unicorn cels have stuck paper products (and/or cel layers), evidence of previously stuck paper products or are cases where I have had them professionally removed.

backlit cel

Here is what the back of a cel looks like after a stuck sketch has been removed. I chose this one instead of my many Last Unicorn examples simply because the black paint makes the paper stand out better than the white paint used for the unicorns.