About the Art
Cel is short for celluloid acetate, the transparent material upon which traditionally animated films are created. Each movement of a character requires an individually hand-painted cel. One or more cels are then laid over a background painting and photographed in an animation camera to create a frame of the finished film. By painting on clear cels, animators are able to create the illusion of life as characters move throughout the environment created by the background painting.
Through our affiliation with the world’s leading animation studios, Animation Connection offers our collectors an opportunity to own these one-of-a-kind cels, as well as several types of limited edition cels.
- Original Production Cels
Production cels are the one-of-a-kind original cels that were used in the creation of an animated film or television show. Each has been hand-painted by studio artists on a piece of celluloid acetate, and has been photographed over a background painting to create a frame of the finished production.
Production cels are highly sought after by collectors, with very rare pieces from the early days of animation fetching prices in the tens, and even the hundreds of thousands of dollars. See Why So Few Vintage Pieces Have Survived for more information on the rarity of early production cels.
Production cels from the 1980’s and 90’s are available at considerably lower expense, but The Move To Computerized Animation has severely curtailed the supply of new artwork in the market, and has put upward pressure on prices of what is still available.
Production cels from the same film, or even the same scene, can have significantly different values depending on their desirability to collectors.
- Original Production Drawings
Original production drawings are one-of-a-kind pieces of animation art. Prior to the creation of cels, each character pose and action must be drawn in pencil. These drawings are the artistic backbone of the film or television show, and are much in demand by collectors.
While they lack the vivid colour of cels, drawings are very desirable for two main reasons. Many collectors prefer drawings because it is at this stage that the animators have really exercised their talents and brought the characters to life. Another appealing aspect of drawings is that they generally cost significantly less than a comparable production cel.
Original production drawings are a wonderful addition to any animation collection, and a great way to enjoy the artistry behind your favourite characters. See What To Look For In A Good Cel Or Drawing.
- Hand-Painted Limited Edition Cels
Hand-painted limited editions recreate classic moments from great cartoons, using the same materials and techniques as were used in making the originals. Some limited editions are exact reproductions of frames from the films they represent, while others, such as Chuck Jones’ limited editions, are based on contemporary interpretations of great characters and scenes.
In either case, the animator’s drawing is transferred onto acetate cels, then each is meticulously hand-painted by studio artists. Each piece is hand-numbered in small edition sizes of between 100 and 750. In some cases the finished cels are then signed by the animator.
As the great majority of original cels from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s are no longer in existence, limited edition cels allow collectors an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy some of the greatest moments in the history of animation.
- Limited Edition Serigraph Cels
Serigraph cels are created by silk screening each individual colour onto the acetate cel, one at a time. Each serigraph cel contains anywhere from 10 to 50 colours. This time-consuming process results in a beautiful piece of art which faithfully reproduces the colours and details of the original.
Produced in limited editions of between 1000 and 7500, serigraph cels offer the most affordable entry into collecting animation fine art.
- Limited Edition Hand-Pulled Lithographs
Hand-pulled lithography is a time-honoured means of producing high quality fine art reproductions. Once the artist has painted the original work of art, skilled artisans create individual printing plates for each colour represented in the piece. Depending on the number of colours, there can be dozens or even hundreds of plates required.
Each plate depicts only that part of the piece which is to receive that colour. Paint is applied by hand to the first plate, and it is pressed onto the paper with the use of historic presses dating back to the late 1800’s. Once the first colour has dried, the second plate is painted and applied. This painstaking process continues until all colours and all parts of the original image have been recreated.
Hand-pulled lithographs are created on high quality acid-free rag paper, and are generally done in limited editions of no more than 750 pieces. They are often signed by the artist.
The quality and artistic heritage of hand-pulled lithographs makes them central to many fine art collections.
- Limited Edition Giclees
Sometimes described as "digital lithographs", giclees are created using extremely sophisticated computer equipment to create a reproduction virtually indistinguishable from the original.
Most giclees start with an original painting or illustration in oil, watercolour, or charcoal. The original work is scanned and colour corrected under the supervision of the artist before being printed with a extremely high resolution giclee printer. From the French term for "spray of ink", giclee printers lay down millions of microscopic ink droplets with such precision that the images, colours, and subtle nuances of the original piece are reproduced with breathtaking accuracy and beauty.
Giclees are created on high quality acid-free rag paper or on canvas, and are generally done in limited editions of no more than 750 pieces. They are often signed by the artist.
Limited edition giclees are a beautiful addition to any home and any art collection.
- Limited Edition Etchings
In order to create limited edition etchings, a studio-authorized artist etches or scrapes an image into a copper plate. This plate is then inked and pressed into high-quality acid-free rag paper to create the black outline of the character. Each piece is then meticulously hand-painted with watercolours to bring the image to life.
Created in limited editions of 500, etchings make wonderful gifts and beautiful accent pieces for lovers of classic animated characters and films. Their relatively small size makes it possible to display several together as a set.
- Why So Few Vintage Pieces Have Survived
Although thousands of individual cels are required to make an animated film, few cels remain from the classic Disney and Warner Bros. productions of the 1930’s - 1960’s.
The simple fact is that no one believed that the cels and drawings had any artistic, historic, or monetary value. They were making movies, and the artwork was just a means to that end. Once the film was complete, the majority of the artwork was destroyed or discarded and the artists moved on to the next project.
In some cases the cels were washed clean so they could be reused. Many were destroyed for lack of sufficient space to store them. Some were given to children who visited the studios, or taken home by animators and cel painters.
It wasn’t until the 1970’s and 80’s that people began to look back at the animated films of the past and begin to recognize the incredible artistry upon which they were built. Sadly, those vintage cels and drawings that survived the years are a small fraction of what once existed.
- What To Look For In A Good Original Cel Or Drawing
The first and most important aspect of choosing a cel or drawing is that you like it. Art is a very personal thing, and what appeals to one person may not appeal to another. That being said, there are a few rules of thumb used by many collectors:
- Full figure images are generally preferred, however, facial images can be very expressive and very desirable.
- Frontal images with eyes open are usually best.
- The larger the painted image the better. Some originals have very small character images. When it comes to originals, size does matter.
- Cels and drawings depicting characteristic poses and expressions are generally best. The prototypical Bugs Bunny looks confident and composed; the ideal Daffy Duck looks a little flustered; villains are best when they look evil and powerful.
- As far as the choice of which character or characters to purchase, there are two very different ways of looking at it.Some believe that star characters are most desirable. These collectors focus on Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Winnie The Pooh and other famous super stars. Their thinking is that these lead characters are the ones around whom the films are built, and they are the most important. Others prefer the unusual characters who appeared in very few films or television episodes. Some of these lesser-known characters have developed a strong following, and their added rarity makes them a must-have item if and when one becomes available. Ultimately the choice comes down to which piece has the most appeal to you.
- The Move To Computerized Animation
As with most aspects of modern life, computers have become central to the production of new animated films and television shows. Some productions are entirely computer generated, with characters designed, animated, and coloured without any pencil drawings or painted cels. Examples of fully computerized cartoons are Disney’s Toy Story and A Bug’s Life.
Frequently, animated productions combine traditional and modern techniques in what is referred to as "digital ink and paint". In this form of film making, animators create traditional pencil drawings which are scanned into a computer to be digitally coloured and output to film. As a result, no painted cels are created. There are many examples of this sort of animation: Disney feature films including The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and others, as well as television shows such as Futurama.
The result of these changes, of course, is that fewer originals are available to collectors all the time.
- Interest Free Layaway Available
Interest free layaway is available on all purchases.
An initial deposit of 25% is paid upon placing the order. The remaining payments of 25% each are applied to your Visa or MasterCard on the same date of each month. Your artwork will be shipped to you once the final payment has been processed.
If, at any time, you wish to pay off your balance and have your art shipped right away, just let us know!
When placing your order online, simply indicate on the order form that you would like to purchase on layaway.
Alternatively, you can email us or phone us. If you have any further questions, please call or email us!