Decoding Anime Production

The Essential Role of Settei, Storyboards, and Layouts

Getting Started

Anime is intricate and involves several essential stages that contribute to its final form. In this article we will detail the importance of Settei, Storyboards and Layouts. Each of these elements plays a crucial role in shaping the anime and ensuring consistency in its visual narrative. Delve into key terminologies below and get a glimpse of the thought process behind the scenes as we look into the world of anime production.

Thanks for reading Atrium! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.


Settei, or 設定 in Japanese, refers to the model sheets created at the beginning of the production process. These sheets are essential blueprints that determine how each character and important object will appear in the anime.

The character designer often goes through several versions before settling on the final design. Once decided, a series of pencil drawings are made, showcasing each character from a variety of angles. These model blueprints are then used as templates by the animators to ensure consistency in drawing throughout the production.


The process of creating Settei involves presenting, revising, and accepting or rejecting concepts, sometimes leading to significant changes in a character's appearance. The character design process is pivotal for the visual consistency throughout the anime but also for shaping how the audience perceives the story. A skillfully designed character can convey their personality, background, and role in the storyline before they utter a single word.


Storyboards map out the flow of the story and are often created by the director. This early insight is part of what makes an episode the true vision of that director. On average, a TV-anime episode has 300 cuts, each cut is a single shot of the camera.


A storyboard is crucial in deciding how the anime unfolds, but an important distinction is that the number of cuts does not imply an increase in the quality of the episode, but it does mean more work for the one creating the storyboard.


Artboards and Layouts

Artboards, or 美術ボード (Bijutsu Bōdo) in Japanese, are drawings that serve as blueprints for buildings or locations, usually with little to no presence of the characters. These form the basis of painted backgrounds in the later part of the process.


Less well known is the layout process, which involves positioning the cels (hand-drawn sheets of transparent plastic or celluloid) used in a cut and the background art needed, providing the definitive blueprint for how the final shot will look. A layout includes both the character and the background together, with cels shaded in warm colors and backgrounds in cool colors.


The layout process involves deciding the form of each cut – the positions of characters, the setting, what they are going to do, and how the shot is captured (camera angle, zooming, and panning). However, one of the most vital parts of production still remains: the animation itself!

Understanding Anime

The creation of Settei, Storyboards, Artboards, and Layouts are fundamental steps in the anime production process. These elements ensure visual consistency and contribute to the director's vision and the overall narrative. As viewers, understanding these aspects of production allows us to appreciate the intricate work and artistic decisions that go into creating the worlds we love to escape into.

For more behind the scenes insights follow us @Atrium, be part of the discussion in Discord, and watch our debut feature animated film The Rise of Blus: A Nouns Movie coming soon at

Thanks for reading Atrium! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

Atrium logo
Subscribe to Atrium and never miss a post.
  • Loading comments...