Do you know how animated films were made before computer graphics?
Everything was hand-painted!
The most revolutionary method in the animation industry was cel animation. Learn all about cel animation in this blog.
The Swan Princess was the last fully hand-drawn film to be released in theaters making the production art a special piece of history.
We have kept the collection in storage over 20 years and have almost thrown it away, twice. We are pleased to finally make it available to fans.
What is a production art cel?
A production art cel is a transparent sheet of cellulose acetate that includes a hand-painted image and was used in the making of an animated film.
Before computer animation, every frame in animation was drawn by hand. 24 frames are required for one second of film. Most full-length, animated films required around one million drawings, including storyboards, backgrounds, pencil drawings and acrylic-painted cels.
In cel animation, characters and objects were drawn on the transparent sheet and laid over a background. The use of cels eliminated the need to redraw the entire image, background and all, every time something moved. Multiple layers also created depth.
This process of hand-painted 2D animation is now very rare and no longer used in the animation of full-length films.
The original Swan Princess film (1994) was the last fully hand-painted feature film to be released in theaters. It's creation took around 300 animators 4 years to complete. By today's standards this is a huge staff and a very expensive endeavor. Furthermore, there are no longer enough animators in the industry trained in painting acrylic on cellulose to make a quality full-length film using this method.
Here’s a simple breakdown of the process:
Pencil drawing templates are created on thin paper with color instructions
A background is painted on glass, cardboard, or thick paper
The outline of the pencil is Xerox copied onto the top of the cellulose paper. Acrylic paint is applied to the back of the cel following the pencil template to add color
The cel overlay with painted image is placed on top of the background and a photograph is taken
Photographs are arranged side by side into film strips.
Our beautiful collection of art is composed of unique collectors pieces specific to the creation of The Swan Princess.
About The Swan Princess
The Swan Princess is based upon the folk tale and ballet, Swan Lake. The story is transformed into a playfully fun adventure with exciting music, lovable forest friends, and of course, the handsome Prince Derek. The Swan Princess, Odette, has stayed true to original fairy tale princess with her kindness, grace, and loyalty.
Three reasons you should follow us on social media 1) Get a behind-the-scenes look as Princess Odette and Prince Derek continue their adventures 2) Be one of the first to be notified when new products are released and 3) Share your Swan Princess stories and tales with other die-hard fans.