Hanna-Barbera | 2022 | Original production cels & drawings

We are pleased to reveal a selection of new original Hanna-Barbera artworks that includes rare production cels and drawings from some of our favourite childhood cartoons, including The Flintstones and Tom and Jerry. This collection has been curated to showcase the processes undertaken by animators in the 20th century as they created each element of these now iconic shows – from the initial sketch to the celluloid and background. To find out more, get in touch

Each cel and drawing marks a real moment in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Neither Shaggy’s iconic “Zoinks!” and on-the-spot run, nor the hilarious foot-pedalling of the Flintstones' prehistoric car, could have existed without the drawings, cels, and backgrounds that form them. Own a piece of TV and animation history with one of these expressive and detailed artworks, which have been framed in elegant black pine and spruce wood and signed by animators including William Hanna, Joseph Barbera and Bob Singer. You can also find out more about the processes and types of artwork below. 

The original production drawing (left) was traced by hand onto a sheet of transparent plastic and painted in colour (right). These would then be moved by hand and filmed to show action. 

The stages of animation 

Firstly, a crucial frame of a character is drawn by hand onto a piece of paper by one of the animators before it is meticulously labelled according to its place in the sequence of the other frames that make up the cartoon. This iconic drawing, which is an artwork itself, is frequently labelled with directions to indicate the various complex movements occurring within just one moment. 

This drawing is then traced by hand onto a sheet of transparent plastic, known as a cel, and painted in the vibrant colours we instantly associate with our favourite cartoon characters today. The pastel green of Yogi Bear's hat, sharp turquoise of Scooby-Doo's collar, and yellow fur of Top Cat all feature in these original production cels. 

Once complete, the celluloids or 'cels' are placed in front of an equally detailed, painted background. These beautiful backgrounds are rare because less backgrounds were created than character cels as characters moved more in scenes than their surroundings. A selection of artworks in this collection are mounted against their original background, and you can find these by entering the title 'OBG' (original production background) in our search bar. 

Finally, all these elements are moved by hand in front of a specialist camera and 'yabba dabba doo!', a decisive moment in a world-renowned cartoon is cemented in history. After many other processes, including sound effects and voice acting, the moments created by these early artworks travel to our screens.

"Making cartoons means very hard work at every step of the way, but creating a successful cartoon character is the hardest work of all."

Joseph Barbera

Featured Artist

From the blog

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