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In general, animation art can be separated into three categories: pre-production art, production art, and post-production art. Pre-production art is art that was used in the development of a film or short, and production art was used in its making. Post-production animation art are those produced after the film or short was completed and were not used the making of it. Examples of pre-production and production art include original production cels, background art, storyboard art, animation drawings, and model sheets. Examples of post-production animation art are sericels, limited edition cels, publicity cels, and reproduction backgrounds.
Under the heading of pre-production and production animation art, which some may lump together as original animation art, may be several subcategories. For example, background art can be separated into key master set up and the original background. An original background is the painted art used to depict the setting in an animated film or short. A key master set up is the original background as well as any cel or cels that had been layered on top of it to produce an animation frame. Put together, the key master set up would represent a real frame in the final film or short.
Some other examples of background art are presentation backgrounds — also known as hand painted backgrounds — preliminary backgrounds, and reproduction backgrounds. Presentation backgrounds are post-production art created by a third party artist as a backdrop for a cel on display. Reproduction backgrounds are copies of the original backgrounds used in a film or short and are also considered post-production art. A preliminary background is a background made during production but not used in the final film or short.
Similarly, animation drawings can be separated into two subcategories: rough drawings and clean-up drawings. Rough drawings were drawn by an animator and show the character at key moments in the film. Clean-up drawings were those done by assistant animators. These assistants would take the rough drawing and create a cleaner version of it. The clean-up drawing was then used to create animation cels.
Some post-production animation art may have been created for a specific purpose. For example, publicity cels were given as gifts for publicity reasons, and limited edition and sericels have been created for collectors. Limited edition cels are cels that have been reproduced from original drawings and are released in a small number. Sericels are post-production cels made by the serigraphy, a process that applies each color on the cel via silk-screening. They are also made in a limited amount but are released in greater numbers that limited edition cels.