Creating colors from paints in order to
Anime uses colors, but they are not simply applied randomly. In order to express the desired image of the director and anime creator, meticulous color design is carried out through a process of animation coloring. There is generally a limited number of colors used for the base coloring of an animation, typically four colors for a single part, or just one color for children's works. The challenge lies in assembling the right colors to faithfully represent the desired image of the work and make it appealing within these limitations.
This involves adjusting countless subtle shades of color, while harmonizing them with various elements such as the background of the work, different time periods for scenes during the day and night, and the changing colors of an object when illuminated by light. Once the colors for the main elements, such as characters, are determined through the work of color design, the person in charge of designating colors is then responsible for assigning tones and hues to everything else. In a 30-minute anime episode, this could mean around 300 to 450 cuts that need coloring. For each and every cut, colors that match the artistic vision of the work are presented for everything that appears in the frame.
The job of color design and color specification in anime may often go unnoticed by viewers, but it is an incredibly important and skill-demanding craft. Colors have the power to make or break the quality of a single anime work. In fact, even if the animation, direction, and storytelling are all excellent, a poorly executed color scheme can ruin a piece overall. In the world of anime, it's not enough for one aspect to shine while the others fall short; every element must come together harmoniously to create a truly remarkable piece. Colors play an indispensable role as the unsung heroes supporting the entire production.
With the transition from traditional cels to digital works, new challenges emerged for those working with color. As someone who had been involved in cel creation for many years, I distinctly remember my first encounter with digital coloring and feeling that it lacked the "warmth" and "softness" present in traditional cels. It has become crucial to find ways to capture that same warmth and softness in the digital realm. The artistry of manipulating colors has become even more significant. During the age of anime cels, which were subject to a limited color palette as compared to digital works, we had to explore innovative techniques to create richer and more nuanced expressions within the constraints we faced. This journey made me truly appreciate the importance of unleashing the power of "color" through the skilled hands of artists.
In this project to revive anime cels, "color" plays a central role. We don't use cels anymore, nor do we have the paints specifically made for them. At first, I thought how could we possibly proceed? It seemed an impossible venture. However, when Hisako SASAKI approached me and said, "We have 10 colors of paint. Let's give it a try together." I thought that just maybe these 10 colors could be combined with our extensive experience to open up new possibilities.
And now, we are embarking on the great task of creating paints for the revival of cels. It's a challenging journey of experimentation with paints, proportions, and mixing techniques, where progress often feels like taking nine steps back for every ten steps forward. Nothing goes as planned, and I'm starting to grasp the sentiment of those who have been researching a given topic for decades. There are many difficulties ahead, but there are also new discoveries awaiting us. Above all, I remain passionate about color. While our problems are still mounting, I hope to pursue the essence of "color" for cels with both enthusiasm and joy.