Are anime characters drawn separately or together?

For example, Boy A is near but Boy B is far, and both are dancing. Is Boy B only drawn for his movements same as Boy A, and with the use of software, they will overlap a character depending on who is near or far. More like a cel animation but with layers using the software.

And does this apply to every anime series and anime character movement like when Boy A and Boy B are fighting and both have interaction with their sword, are they drawn separately or together?

More like this, are both drawn together or separately but with the use of software, the girl's hand overlaps the boy's body:

I am talking about hand-drawn animes on paper, not hand-drawn animes with a drawing tablet.

  • 1
    I believe 99% that it's drawn separately (as in, separate layer). That also explains why sometimes the production quality can be different even on the same scene. Also, probably related answer
    – Aki Tanaka
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 11:07

1 Answer 1


This is actually two, or even three, questions in one. Movements in anime start and end with keyframes, everything else are inbetweeners. How both keyframes and inbetweeners are drawn up is not just a matter of preference (which may impact how the final drawing comes to be), but also one of efficieny.

In your example, drawing the persons separately will allow much easier change in composition even though there is nothing against drawing the frame 'as-is' right off the bat.

For example, if the director decides that the girl needs to be a tad more to the left, of that her hand needs to be higher, it's much easier to just move the girl or reposition the hand than to draw everything from scratch (including the boy, the background, etc).

Distance as such as little to do with anything and is only used to create a sense of depth. Clouds, traffic, etc moving at different speeds to create a parallax-like effect.

Ultimately, regardless of whether or not layers are used and regardless of overlap, all characters, every single stroke even, are drawn separately.

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