Framing Animation Cells

A traditional cell – animation's abbreviation for Celluloid® – is a clear plastic sheet onto which a drawing is copied, either by hand inking or by a commercial copier process.

Animation art was never intended to be framed and hung on a wall; it was meant to last only long enough to be photographed, usually about two weeks. The brilliant but often fugitive colors can fade.

Subdued or indirect lighting is best for animation art. If display lighting must be used, low wattage is recommended.

If the cell layers are separated, never stack them directly in contact with one another. Always allow for air space between layers when framing, by using window mats, spacers or other devices.

A properly framed and mounted cell expands and contracts as temperature and humidity fluctuate, so it is important not to secure the cell on all four sides. Tapes are not recommended. Pressure sensitive tapes harden and fail to adhere to the slick cell surface.

Acrylic is the preferred glazing material in the majority of cases. Glass presents such a high risk to animation art, as broken glass can cut or score the delicate cell material irreparably. UV glazing is recommended to help protect the brilliant colors. But no matter what glazing material is used, keep the art in a low light environment.

When hanging animation art, consider its extreme vulnerability to shock – if the art falls from the wall, serious damage could result, especially if framed with glass. Sturdy hangers are the order of the day! Animation art fares well in wood or metal frames

The biggest hazard to animation art is mishandling – if in doubt, STOP and seek professional advice.