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About Cels

Since the earliest days of animation, people enthralled with the art have collected animation cels. A cel is a piece of transparent (originally) celluloid or (later) acetate featuring a painted cartoon character. The artist draws the outline on one side and hand-paints the color fill on the reverse side. Then filmmakers place the cel in front of a background and shoot frame by frame, one cel after the next. To save an enormous amount of time and effort, they may reuse the cel in the sequence or in another context. The more iconic the film or character, the more valuable is the cel. For example, a large cel from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" fetched over 50 thousand dollars at Sotheby’s. Popular characters include those of Disney (the Little Mermaid was the last to use cels), Batman, Transformers, The Simpsons, and the wildly popular animé franchise InuYasha. The first thing you notice about InuYasha is the extraordinary eyes, as unique and arresting as the wide-eyed children painted by Margaret Keane. An original animation cel from the animé series, of which you can find an enormous variety on eBay, is not only collectible, but you can display it as fine art for a sure-fire conversation starter. One caution: be sure you know what you are getting, whether it’s a production sketch, a limited-edition reissue of the cel artwork, or a genuine cel used in the actual production.