Animation Cells, Need Help


Mar 18, 2005
I have a client that has some animation cells that he would like framed. He's wanting to use the best materials and mounting techniques. Any suggestions on the best way to mount these or any reference materials that I might read? Thanks to all.
A good place to start is at the top of the page with the search feature.
Search for "cels" and you will find several threads on the subject.
Rag mat and UV blocking glass is a minimum I will do on the Cells. These things can be fragile and expensive. Also, photo corners is a good way to hold in place.

As for design. A piece of 8 ply mat between the cell and the back scene really gives a nice 3D look.

You may get better mounting advice from someone like Hugh. Maybe he will chime in this weekend.
If this is a sericel, you can design your frame as though it is an regular art print. (plus the extra spacer between the cel and the backing)

If it is an actual cel that was used in a film, you may want to show the alignment holes, even if it makes for a more challenging design job. It's like showing the plate marks on etchings, it's nice to be able to see the technical details.

Another thing that can be fun with sericels is, instead of using the background that comes with it, use a family photo that the foreground image fits in with.
Thanks for that link. Nice description of the technique for using edge strips. Of course they are useful for mounting non-cel artwork as well.
SUE! SUE MAY! Where are you???

Sue has posted many posts on animation cells. See, she is a true Disney-<s>freak</s> -lover, and quite knowledgable about A/C's.

Not meant to diminish anyone else's abilities, but I know Sue knows her stuff!
One of the most knowledgeable framers on animation cels is Merrill Grayson, from Indanapolis. He's done a lot of research on that particular subject.

He used to have some instructional guidelines on his web site -- I think it's
I recently did a Jonny Quest ad cell (not from the actual cartoon, but a commercial or something). I used artique digital white as the background color, used two 2" wide layers of acid-free foam board underneath the top mat (also digital white) to float the piece up. The cel itself was hinged into place with framer's tape between the top mat and the floater foam. It was wicked cool. When the piece hangs upright, you get a cool shadow on the back mat.
Oh snaps! I have an original production cel from the Legend of Zelda cartoon from the Super Mario Bros. Mario Hour. I used photo corners and mounted it the bottom mat (whatever scrap white I had), and cut an arch opening in a gold bottom mat and another white top mat. I then cut the Triforce into the top mat. Man- I wish I had a picture.

I never use anything but conservation everything. TruVue has been good to me. I had opted to use archival photo corners on most cels, but framers tape works depending on pieces with images as large as the acetate itself.
The Bainbridge booth had a display showing cartoon cells with Artcare (zeolites) and no artcare. The artcare really works to retard fading and cell self-destruction. Hugh Phibbs in one of his classes I took,told us that cells should be kept cold and not allowed to get hot. I had a client that had me redo most of cells, using the edge strips, and Artcare matboards backboards and filler boards then I told him to keep them in an air conditioned room all the time and keep the room dark.
That's a good reminder Nona. Cells that are on any kind of acetate, or cellulose nitrate, are inherently unstable, and will ultimately destruct. The current "treatment" for acetate and cellulose nitrate is to freeze them - under low RH conditions. This extends the life from - say 60 - 100 yrs, depending on environment - to 900 yrs.

Copies onto a stable plastic, like Mylar, could be a good alternative.

One reason to put space behind a real cel is to
ensure that it does not stick to what is behind it. Cels were back painted and things were added to the paint to make it stick to the slick plastic, which can make it stick to what is behind
it. Valuable cels can only be preserved in cold
storage, as Nona and Rebecca said.

Animation Cels

Anything new on this topic? I have used mylar edge strips or corners on these with mats between layers. I always worry about them sinking with gravity or buckling because of the edge strip on the bottom. What is the answer to the encapsulation question mentioned in this thread? Yes, I have read all of the archives on this subject and the PPFA educational piece.

Given the fact that the cells used to make the animated film are likely to have been done on an unstable plastic and will degrade and deform if left in the light and heat, it is worth asking whether new developments in digital reproduction can be employed to make replica cells to go along with replica backgrounds, for framing while the originals are stored in a cool, dark place. As the cells age their clear substrates become more warped, which brings the paint used to create the character closer to the back ground, and if they touch, the paint is likely to stick to the background, since those paints have components that make them tacky, to get them to adhere to the clear material.
Unfortunately, the original cells are the most valuable and the most at risk, so framing a replica is the safest option.

An original cel from Fantasia was recently appraised on Antiques Roadshow for $9K to $12K.

:popc: Rick

I know. Some of these values are very high. My client has a collection from the Little Mermaid, so that means production in the late 80's. I'm still seeing values up to 6K.