What Made Family Guy / Simpsons? TB or Opus?

Hi all, i was just wanting to know what was used to make family and the simpsons.

Thanks very much.

Hi, Kray-

I found some info for you about the Simpsons at this site:


I’ve pasted a section from it below. As you will discover, the Simpsons along with many other 2D animations are still done the old-fashioned way–lots of hard work with thousands of drawings on cels, all inked-in and colored by hand.

Still, you can get a very close approximation using Toon Boom. It sure is a lot easier and less expensive than going the cel animation route. You need less equipment, like pencil test setups, light tables, cameras, lights, paint, brushes and on and on.

The basics of how an episode of “The Simpsons” is created:

After a script is written, the voice actors such as Nancy Cartwright (“Bart”) and Harry Shearer (“Mr. Burns”) record the dialogue for that episode. Next the show’s artists create “story boards,” which look much like roughly drawn panels of a comic book. These drawings guide animators in creating “master drawings” – about 16,000 sketches for each half-hour episode. These drawings, filmed one after another, create a rough black-and-white “animatronic” version of the episode. The artists refine further these rough drawings.

After that, the sketches are shipped to a studio in Korea, where the outlines of each drawing are copied onto clear plastic and filled in with paint. These are called “cels,” which in sequence produce the spiffy looking cartoon seen on television. In many cases, an artist only has to draw the foreground art of a cel. A single “master background” can be used for several cels.


You can find out more about cel animation at these sites:




And here’s some more info on traditional animation from Daniel Ivanick/Syracuse University:

Animation is a technique used to fool the eye into thinking that motion is occurring. It uses a series of still pictures flashed in sequence very quickly. If the pictures are properly designed to flow from one to the next, the eye sees the series as one continuous, smooth motion: movement.

Since the advent of film 100 years ago, animators have concocted a variety of methods to create animation. These include: paper cut-outs, clay models, puppets, computer-generated 3-D art and traditional cel animation.

I have tried my hand at most of the types of animation listed above, but, professionally, I produce animation on cels. This is the technique most familiar to American audiences. Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Snow White were all produced using cels.

Cel animation starts with a stack of paper. The animator draws her/his characters on the papers, one at a time. One stack of papers would equal a scene of animation for the character.

When shooting the animation on film, this paper stack is placed under an animation camera and photographed, one frame at a time. When the resulting film is played back, the sequence of drawings appears to move. This is called a pencil-test.

Once the animator has the pencil-test footage drawn the way s/he wants it, the animation is traced or photocopied onto clear sheets of acetate, called cels. These cels are painted with an opaque, acrylic-based paint to color in the characters.

At the same time, the backgrounds are painted, usually in watercolor.

The final animation goes under the animation camera and is photographed frame by frame, with each cel laid over the background one at a time. This footage is the final color version, to which sound is added.

These days, that process has been streamlined a bit. Pencil drawings are scanned into a computer, assembled in an animation program and viewed on the computer screen. Changes are easily rendered.

Once the pencil animation is completed, the drawings are painted in the computer using a paint program. The final, color animation can then be exported to videotape or to film.

Disney uses a propriety laser system to transfer their feature animation to film. “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin”, “The Lion King” and “Pocahontas” were all produced this way. They don’t use cels anymore, except to sell to the public.


I hope this helps.
Best Wishes, Elwood

Aha! How embarassing.

I guess the info I found online is dated or outright wrong. I do wish Karina had jumped in with the answer for Kray (and all of us) earlier, so I wouldn’t have posted erroneous information.

Ah, well, maybe the “traditional cel” information has been of some interest to readers.

I do hope Kray revisits this topic again, assuming he read my false info. He should know that USAnimation is responsible for these major shows.

Best, Elwood


You were not totaly wrong! Some episode of the Simpsons are still made the old fashion way. I found the information you posted very interesting.

We all apreciate it !