I think that there still exists a lot of confusion about the different types of animation art. So here is a full-blown glossary that should be helpful.
A sheet of clear acetate or nitrate which is hand-painted and then placed over a background and photographed. The outline of the character (hand-painted or xeroxed) is applied to the front of the cel. The colours are hand-painted onto the back of the cel.
Material of older cels used up until the 1950s (1940s for Disney). Often show signs of aging such as rippling or yellowing.
Material used in the present day. More stable than nitrate.
Refers to a size of a cel or drawing of 10 1/2″ x 12 1/2″. Is the most standard size of art.
Cel or drawing of 12″ x 16″.
Cel or drawing up to 12″ x 30″. Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty used this type of artwork. Sometimes the production backgrounds were of this size as well. One may find art from these films that were once pan size, but have since been trimmed.
A Disney cel set-up created and sold by the Courvoisier Galleries in the late 1930s/early 1940s. Characters are most often trimmed to image, glued to the background, covered with a protective top cel. Most vintage Disney pieces from this era are of this nature.
In the case of a multi-cel set-up, cels are always from the same film, but may not all correspond to the same moment in time.
A number of distinctive backgrounds were used. Wood veneer, polka dots, stars, and hand-painted watercolour backgrounds.
The original set-ups were almost always framed in an off-white mat, penciled name of the character written, and a “WDP” stamp. Labels were attached to the back.
Often, the cels from Dumbo and Bambi were laminated.
A combination of two or more cel levels, with or without a production background.
Any cel or drawing created for the production of an animated film. Does not necessarily mean that the piece appears in the film. Edited, colour model, and preliminary art are all production artwork.
Colour Model/Colour Test
A cel created by the Ink and Paint department for accurate colour-referencing during production. Colour test cels have colours different from the final characters.
Publicity or Promotional
A non-production cel created for promotional purposes. Characters are depicted in an “ideal” pose. Often used for posters, postcards, etc. Please note that publicity cels are not that common, and if you have any doubts about a piece, I recommend you contact the appropriate studio.
Disneyland Art Corner
Cels sold at Disneyland from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. Cels are trimmed, against a litho background, and have a gold seal attached to the back of the mat. It is not unusual for the cels to have become stuck in some areas to the background.
Disney Seal (older)
Applies to art mostly sold thorugh Disney in the1970s. Full cels laminated and embossed with “Original hand-painted movie film cel”. These seals are larger than the ones used today. Many Robin Hood and Rescuers cels fall into this category. Occasionally, a Sleeping Beauty cel will have been sold in this manner.
A non-production hand-painted cel created specifically for collectors. Produced in limited quantities, they are most easily identified by a “fraction” (39/500) in the lower right-hand corner. All of the ones I have seen are accompanied by a background. They were not used in a film, and have either been created to resemble original production art, whether by reproducing a scene, or more recently, by creating new scenes which often mix characters who do not traditionally “belong” together. Most of this art is very new-1980s/1990s, but a few, most notably Gaucho Mickeys, or Der Feurer’s Face Donalds, are older- these 2 from the 1940s.
Serigraph cel (Sericel)
A non-production silk-screened cel similar to a limited edition, but no work is done by hand. Often produced in editions of 5000. Most often did not come with any sort of background, but some of the newer ones, most notably from Disney, are starting to come with some striking reproduction backgrounds.
Refers to an original, one-of-a-kind production drawing done by an animator from which the cels are later created.
Drawing done by an animator to indicate the position and pose of the character. Later, a clean-up drawing is created by referring to, or drawing directly over, the rough. The cels are then created by tracing or xeroxing over the clean-up drawings. Rough drawings are generally more “loose” than clean-ups.
Drawing done by referring to the rough drawing. From these drawings, the cels are then created. In the final film, the cels will actually “match” the drawings (think of them as a type of blueprint).
A series of complex drawings, each depicting a mini-scene, which are created while defining the storyline of the film. Storyboards are not often seen as the vintage ones were usually not kept as they were an early stage of the process. To my knowledge, none of the studios release any current original storyboard art for sale, and some studios are now using movie-type scripts instead.
Very detailed drawings depicting the master backgrounds, or showing camera movements with sketchy indications of the placement of the characters.
It is very, very important to understand the different backgrounds that come with a piece. Different types of backgrounds affect the value of a piece greatly.
Key Master (Matching) set-up
A cel or cels paired with their original matching background as they appeared at the same moment in the actual film. Generally, most valuable. However, a terrific looking master set-up may be higher in value than a less interesting key set-up.
A cel or cels are paired with a background from the same film, but do not appear together in the film at the same moment.
A background created for use in the production of an animated film. Unless specified to be specifically key master, master, or identified to have come from a certain film, assume that it is non-matching, and in most cases from a different, or unidentified cartoon.
A newer background created by an artist for the specific purpose of enhancing a cel.
A Xerox, lithograph, or photographic copy of an original production background. Adds little intrinsic monetary value to a piece, but often nicely enhances the visual appeal of a piece.