Art Terms Glossary


GICLÉE: From the French term for “spray of ink,” giclée printers lay down millions of microscopic ink droplets with such precision that the original image is reproduced with amazing accuracy in color and detail. No other printing technique can consistently reproduce art so close to the original. Giclées are created on fine art rag paper or canvas, which are coated for protection. They are generally done in editions of no more than 500 pieces and are often signed by the artist. Some artists add paint (hand-embellish) on top of the printed canvas giclée.

SERIGRAPH OR SERICEL: A print made by using the silk-screen process to transfer an image onto paper or acetate. Each color is printed separately one color at a time either by hand-pulling the paint across the screens and onto the paper or cel, or by using a machine to apply the colors one at a time.

LITHOGRAPH PRINT: A print made by using a press to transfer an image that was create initially on stone or metal plate to paper. Each color is applied one at a time.

LITHOGRAPH PRINTING: A mechanical lithograph is printed using a four color process: red, yellow, blue and green. A series of tiny dots are layered one upon each other until they transform into the desired image. The final creation is like a highly sophisticated photograph.

ETCHING: The image is carved out of a highly polished copper plate. This plate is then inked and pressed into fine art paper to create the detailed image.

Art Definitions

LIMITED EDITION: Is a reproduction from an original piece of art where there is a fixed number of pieces to be produced with an understanding that no further impressions will be produced later. When the edition is numbered the number on the top or left of the slash is the number of that particular piece while the number on the bottom or right of the slash is the number of the total edition. Whenever possible, artist sign their editions. Occasionally an image will be reproduced in different sizes or formats thus requiring separate editions. These will usually be indicated on the certificate of authenticity.

LIMITED EDITION CELS: Is similar in that it is a reproduction of a stated number from an original piece of artwork, but differs in that the cel layer of the edition is hand-painted on each individual piece. Hand-painted limited editions recreate classic moments from great cartoons, using the same materials and techniques as were used in making the originals. There has been a strong market for limited edition cels because they enable collectors to own a favorite scene that either no longer exists as an original production cel set-up, or if it does exist could cost a fortune. Some limited editions are exact reproductions of the film frames, while others are interpretations of classic scenes, or are newly created images using classic characters.

ARTIST PROOF/PRINTERS: Artist or printer’s proofs refer to the artwork that is visually proofed and approved by the artist and publisher. They are in addition to the regular number of editions and usually sell for more than the regular edition. With contemporary printing techniques they usually are exactly the same visually as the regular edition. HC/Hors de Commerce: this is also a version of printer’s proofs where the publisher or printer approves the edition. Hanna Barbera studios published HC’s of many of their limited editions produced in the 1990’s.

PRODUCTION CEL: Each production cel is one-of-a-kind and was used in the creation of an animated film or television show. Each is hand-painted, and has been photographed over a background painting to create a frame of the finished production. Because one background is used under a sequence of cels, the production art is usually sold with a reproduction of the original background. A production cel with an original background is very rare and has a much higher value. The move to computerized animation has severely curtailed the supply of artwork on the market.

PRODUCTION DRAWING: Include roughs of three types: Key drawings which are important poses or moments drawn by the principal animators. Breakdowns drawn by the animator and his assistant, and In-betweens which are drawn by the assistant. Once roughs are approved they go to Clean-up which is a tracing of the original animation rough. These are the most refined of the drawings, though some collectors prefer the roughs because they can have more “life and expression” and are more likely to be drawn by the key animator.

ONE OF ONE: Now that most animation is done with the computer, production cels are no longer produced as part of the animation process. Because of this the only collectible art from the newer cartoons are the production drawings and any concept art. But many collectors still prefer their artwork to look like a frame of the production. Consequently, a one-of-a-kind piece of animation art can be custom created by taking a production drawing and having it hand-inked and painted in the traditional manner of animation. It is then matched with a giclee background that is output from the digital files of the animation. This creation involves research and the skills of several artisans to create and is a very unique collectible.

MODEL SHEET: Standardized renderings of characters created by directors or lead animators that once approved, photographic stats called model sheets would be printed and distributed to all of the artists working on a production. This would insure consistency between the sketches drawn by the various artists. Limited editions that feature a character on a cel layer with a model sheet background have been very popular among collectors.

CONCEPT ART: Inspirational sketches or paintings used to establish the situations, color choices or mood of a production. These can be rendered in anything from rough pencil to finished full color paintings.

CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENCITY: A certificate issued by the publisher stating the total quantity of prints created in an edition, with the print published date, the medium in which the edition is printed, the name of the artist, and a statement about the work. Certificates also validate the authenticity of the artist’s signature on the print. Some certificates are hand-numbered with the piece number of the edition, and hand-signed by the publisher.