Is Anime Made Digitally?

It seems like anime is popping everywhere. Even before you finish your current anime, there is yet another anime already waiting for you to watch. Is the fast release of anime means that they are done through digital means? Is anime made digitally?

Anime is made digitally but the frames that they use are hand-drawn. The majority of animes are a mix of hand-drawn and digital production. There are a few animes that are fully digital but the anime industry is showing no signs of stopping traditional hand-drawing in anime.

If an anime is not made digitally, which parts are hand-drawn? On the other hand, if anime is made digitally, does that mean that the hand-drawn parts were set to a minimum? A lot of questions are piling up, so keep on reading to find answers!

Majority Of Anime Is Made Digitally

It should be clear that all anime is made digitally. Even if the anime started with hand-drawn sequences, everything is still scanned or photographed to be processed on the computer. The final process of making an anime is always through the use of digital means.

Keep in mind that cel animation is no longer used in the animation process. This is where plastic transparent films are used and layered on top of one another to simulate movement.

Nowadays, anime production houses make use of digital software to finish their anime or anime films. In cases when they are pressed for time, the background or mass components of the anime are made digitally.

Which Parts Of Anime Are Made Digitally?

The digital use of various anime production houses is varied. Some prefer to leave the digital process when it comes to finalizing the key-animation and in-betweening to adding the effects. Kyoto Animation does this process a lot of times.

There are also production houses where the hand-drawn and digital elements go hand-in-hand.

For example, during designing a character, it will first be drawn, before it moves to the storyboarding process, it can be colored digitally just to give the storyboarding team more information.

In this video, you will see how TOEI, Madhouse, and Pierrot Animations use traditional and digital processes in animation. They lean towards the use of digital means in post-production, just like Kyoto Animation.

Usually, the hybrid use of hand-drawn and digital animation processes is done by smaller production houses. The reason for this is that collaboration is easier between departments. This strategy is used by Ufotable Inc., the production house behind Demon Slayer.

Keep in mind that animes are still made by frame, therefore if something is manually and digitally drawn on a frame, everyone in the department, as well as the other departments, should be aware of it so that there will be no errors and overlapping of material.

If you want to learn more about how animes are made frame by frame, you can check out this quick read.

Here are the cases where anime is made digitally:

  • Coloring characters, backgrounds, and other components
  • Adding effects in post-production
  • Key Animation corrections
  • In-betweening adjustments (never corrections, then need to draw it again if there are problems with frames)
  • Loop background
  • Extra components (a crowd, smoke, stones, etc.)
  • Lighting adjustments
  • Editing
  • Mixing of music and adding the dubs
  • Finalizing of the sequence

Some of the terms may seem to be technical. Do not worry, we have a general guide here, so you can understand the animation processes that we are talking about.

The anime film, Your Name, used CGI, 3D, and photography models to create the backgrounds that are also found in Japan. (Source)

You may think that the processes mentioned above are too many. Just remember that everything that is being edited and retouched digitally came from hand-drawn content. Therefore, drawings on paper are still the blood of the animation process.

The parts that are not usually made digitally are the following:

  • Character design
  • Main characters and side characters
  • Storyboarding
  • Layout
  • Key Animation frames
  • In-betweening sequences
  • Key Backgrounds

You can learn more about the hand-drawn elements of the entire animation process, you can get some insider information here.

Is Anime Drawn Digitally?

The majority of anime is not drawn digitally. The exceptions are the anime and anime films that were intentionally drawn digitally. However, the cases for these fully-digital animes are rare.

In fact, artists in production houses believe that if a character is not hand-drawn, then it cannot be called anime. On the other hand, they are more lenient when it comes to anime films. This could be due to the Director’s call to have a CGI or 3D film.

Digital Methods Used In Anime

Besides the obvious video editing, sound editing, and addition of dubs in certain sequences, here are other methods that involve digital means:

  • Pixel connection: isolates certain components in an image while combining other components
  • Gap closing: decrease of space between outlines or layer of frame
  • Scaling of an area: changing the spacial requirements of a layout
  • Mode scaling: adjusting a component in a frame by making it bigger or smaller or changing its location
  • Filling of other layers: duplicating frames or mixing frames and frame components

There are still other digital methods that complete the animation process, but the ones that we enumerated here are the ones that are usually used in Coloring and Key Animation editing.

Are you planning to create your very own anime? Find out what kind of animation to use here.

Take note that the anime and anime films in this list are not fully digital. They just have notable 3D and CGI digital animations. This also does not mean that the digitalization percentage of the animation process is greater than hand-drawn elements.

  • Spirited Away: All characters are hand-drawn, moving background and elements are 3D.
  • Beastars: Characters are drawn, character features are digital. Backgrounds are hybrid 2D and CGI.
  • Demon Slayer: Mugen Train: Combination of traditional drawing, 3D, and CGI.
In Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki made sure that the use of 3D should not “steal the show” rather, it should enhance the story.
  • Land of the Lustrous: Post-production CGI, won the Best in CGI award in Crunchyroll Awards.
  • Weathering With You: Use of actual photography and CGI.
  • Stand By Me Doraemon: Heavy use of 3D and CGI, reference material are hand-drawn.
  • A Place Further Than The Universe: Specific components and objects are CGI, all characters are hand-drawn.
As you can see in this picture, the heavy use of 3D and CGI makes the anime film look similar to Disney and Pixar movies.


All animes are made digitally as a certain percentage is digitized from traditional hand-drawn media. Anime is drawn digitally simply for error corrections, editing, retouches, and last-minute changes.

Keep in mind that if there is an in-betweening error, the artists would rather draw it again than draw it digitally.

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