What is an animation layout ? During the Ghibli Layout Designs Exhibition first held at the MOT museum, Tokyo back in 2008, Miyazaki Goro, son of famed anime director Miyazaki Hayao illustrated this nifty comic to explain the layout process.
The original Japanese comic can be found here.
Since then a blessed soul has translated the comic into English and French, click on the image below to view a larger version ( image courtesy of Cartoonbrew / Buta Connection ).
Now that you understand what an animation layout is, you have to check out the absolutely breathtaking layout boards found in the Ghibli Layout Designs Exhibition catalog (updated), one of the best Ghibli art books ever released, IMHO.17