In the introduction paragraphs of Visiting Studio Colorido: Up-and-Coming Digital Animation Studio by Naoya Koji posted in October 2015,


Today, many of Japanese animation studios rely on “papers and pencils” to produce anime. Although some parts have been updated, this is the traditional Japanese style of the animation production which has been handed down for decades.

The world is now in the age of the internet and the digital tools. The animation studios innovate those new cultures, but Japanese studios remain in the world of “paper and pencil.” [...]

Even today, Japanese animation studios still use pencil and paper to produce animation.

Why can't they switch from that method and proceed to digital hand drawing for animation production since it is much less time-consuming? Why can't anime studios use graphic tablets (e.g. Wacom) to draw and animate instead of using pencils, papers, and eraser because it's maybe outdated and obsolete?

  • 5
    As far as I know, the vast majority of anime nowadays is produced digitally. Search for "digipaint" to find out more about the process.
    – Torisuda
    Nov 1, 2016 at 20:32

3 Answers 3


Here is an interesting article about how the anime production process works.

Here's an excerpt I found particularly interesting (and relevant!):

[T]he crucial thing is that the frames are still initially drawn by hand, and no in-between animation is simulated by a computer. There are some animators who draw 2D animation directly onto computer, but in anime this is largely restricted to in solo animation productions rather than commercial anime. The industry prefers this because the animators are generally more comfortable and able with this method, and it allows easier checking and correction of frames under sometimes tight schedules.

  • its about using graphic tablets in animation by hand drawing digitallly
    – user25750
    Nov 1, 2016 at 22:47

The animation line works require high precision, which in turn means better drawing tablet/computers are needed.

Much in-betweens are produced overseas. Having been at a small studio in China, I feel that the studio will not be able to afford such device for every animator.

Also one need to take into account of how much changes when drawing digitally. Tablet screens have very low friction compares to pencil on paper, which means complete relearn how one uses muscle and maintains stability. This is a no-go for established studios, as they are constantly on time pressure.

Coloring requires less precision, and can be performed by a mouse, so those are done digitally in the studio.

  • so why exactly do japanese anime studio still use pencil and paper even today?why not move on to graphics tablet?
    – user25750
    Nov 2, 2016 at 11:42
  • @user25750 even if they do (overcoming all the training), they don't gain anything really if the in-between is still tracing their work by pencil and paper.
    – lulalala
    Nov 3, 2016 at 1:31

I think the overhead of providing computers and licenses to every animator, along with the cost of hiring additional team members as IT staff to maintain networks and computers could easily ballon production costs. After that, they would have to hire animators trained to use the software that the studio uses.

Smaller Studios often outsource parts of their animations to studios to do computer animation. Also many studios use computers to color artwork, to do backgrounds, and to composite. Larger studios might have teams in house to do the computer work.

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