Designing Bayonetta


Filed: Bayonetta, Games, PlatinumGames

Hello. I’m Mari Shimazaki (Shimako), a character designer on Bayonetta.

It seems that the Bayonetta blog is finally underway! Lots of the staff from Bayonetta are going to take turns writing here, so I hope you all enjoy it.

Today is my turn, and for my first post, I thought I would give you some insight into the concept design for Bayonetta.

Truth be told, it was a real struggle to arrive at the final design for Bayonetta herself. In fact, it took a full year! I think what happened during that year is quite interesting, but it is quite a long story, so I’ll save it for another time.

When we started Bayonetta, our director, Hideki Kamiya, asked me to design a character with three traits:
1)    A Female Lead
2)    A Modern Witch
3)    She Uses Four Guns

Designers use these keywords to fuel their imagination as they draw, and after exhausting a few ideas, I arrived at the prototype design below.

(Bayonetta Design Prototype)

Since Bayonetta is a witch, her “theme color” had to be black! The other special part of her design is the long hair wrapping around her body. The hair gathered around Bayonetta’s sleeves accentuates the movements of her limbs.

When a female character appears in an action game, her limbs often seem thin and short. That is why I tried to make her more appealing as an action game character by adjusting her proportions and extending her limbs.

Then I went about finishing up her clothing, which you can see below!

(Bayonetta Final Design)

(Bayonetta Bust View)

This is the final design. :-p

Bayonetta’s long hair is the source of her power, and she normally wears it around her body as a means of adornment and protection. However, once she enters battle, she can use her hair to summon incredibly powerful demons from hell. When she summons these Infernal Demons, she is using all of her power, so she has no time to control the hair wrapped around her body and thus she ends up in more “comfortable” attire. The exciting way she looks in this state is one of the parts of Bayonetta that I love.

By the way, Bayonetta’s beehive was a hairdo that I really wanted to give her, and I insisted on drawing her that way throughout the design process. As she is a witch, I thought that instead of a pointy hat, I would give her something elegant, like a wrap-do… Apparently though, Kamiya-san didn’t really care either way. :-p

There was another thing I added to Bayonetta to make her an even more appealing character…

(Bayonetta’s Face)

Glasses! This was something that Kamiya-san really pushed for, as he was aiming to differentiate Bayonetta from other female characters and give her a sense of mystery and intelligence. Of course, I think it is just because he likes girls with glasses.

Conceptually, we were also looking to make Bayonetta “fashionable,” and I designed her so that this sense of fashion came through in all the little details, not just the glasses.

That is the story behind Bayonetta’s final design. I think I was able to put my feelings into her design, and she ended up a strong female character. So, you’d like to know how she behaves? Or maybe you are wondering what kind of battles will she get herself into? Look forward to playing the final version of Bayonetta and finding out all the answers!

(NOTE: Higher resolution versions of the concept art in this post can be found on the PlatinumGames Inc. Flickr Page)


45 Comments Add Your Own

Pheonix03 Posted on April 17, 2009 at 10:22 am

Awesome Shimizaki-san! I love how stylish your art-style is! Can't wait to see even more characters!

axl99 Posted on April 17, 2009 at 11:55 am

Seeing professional character designers being relatively open about the creative process is a refreshing thing. This is great stuff!

And I'm glad you kept the beehive :D, it really worked out well with the rest of her costume. Not too many female leads in action games wear beehives anyway, so that obviously is a plus right there.

I'm actually a little curious to see Bayonetta's previous initial designs, but perhaps that can be saved for another time, or an artbook…. Ahem.

Thanks for sharing your experience on the game so far, I know I'll be looking forward to hearing more stories from you and the staff :D.

TDS Posted on April 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm

The design is really awesome and fresh.

I don't get why people hate it sometimes :/

Nice blog Shimizaki-San!

Ace Posted on April 17, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Great post, I've always liked the art behind the games you all provided, and it's great to hear from the character designer themselfs. I really like her design a lot, as it's unique and cool.

This is a little off topic, and it could be just me, but she sort of looks like a character who would fit into DarkStalkers really well (I know that won't happen, but she does remind me of some character from the series in a way).

dereck Posted on April 17, 2009 at 1:32 pm

I think she looks incredibly sexy. I love her personality and her face is really beautiful. Dante became my favorite video game character ever since DMC1 came out, but I think that's about to change.

Dageram Posted on April 17, 2009 at 9:35 pm

I like her design, I think it's effective while being sophisticated, I can't wait to see how the hair costume play out in the final game, it must look great in motion =)

EagleEye Posted on April 17, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Great stuff! I love to see the work behind the design and its process, regarding the main character and also the enemies and NPCs! Would love to see others in the future :D

Hopefully, there will be an artbook? In that case, one buyer is already on the list so, I really hope forward to see that happen when the time of release gets near. This is a game I wouldn't mind to get delayed, if there's a need for it :p

Excellent work Mari Shimazaki!

PS – In the beggining, I wasn´t really a fan of it but… I changed my mind and I believe this is one great piece of art.

Lautaro Posted on April 17, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Como espero este juego estoy como loco ,espero que sea todo lo que dicen que es y mucho masssss xD

Por otro lado a mi el diseño me gusto mucho por el echo que realmente original no es el típico personaje sexy , es mas bien como una profesora de universidad bien mala xD

Bue saludos desde Argentina ,Sigan asi !!!!!

Phantasos Posted on April 18, 2009 at 10:07 am

The artwork actually looks better in paper than in the actual game, Ms Shimazaki, mainly because of your very accentuated, stylized art design. I wouldn´t mind to see this available in the actual game.

Looking forward to see more blog contributions from you.

majid Posted on April 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Great job Shimako

The design of Bayonetta is one of the most original character designs in the history of gaming

most of the action heroes have become similar to Dante one way or another

but Bayonetta is a different story, it's as if she came right out of an anime or manga

total originality

notbad24 Posted on April 18, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Great! How weathily the imagination you are!i can't wait to see the next opus!

notbad24 Posted on April 19, 2009 at 12:02 am

by the way,could you tell me which design tools you used.tx

Hulk Davidson Posted on April 19, 2009 at 12:55 am

I love it!

barom Posted on April 19, 2009 at 6:12 am

Awesome blog. I love the whole character except for one thing. Her legs. It reminds me of spiders for some reason. And spiders are a big turn-off for me.

Fabian Posted on April 19, 2009 at 10:24 am


Prabu Posted on April 19, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Fantastic Work. I'm in love with the way how you draw and come up with unique & wonderful design.
May you always keep drawing.

Omatic Posted on April 20, 2009 at 2:24 am

Awesome post. Thanks for letting us fans see a little of how this game is being cooked up. The design is amazing, it fits the "modern witch" thing perfectly.

J FER SALAZAR Posted on April 20, 2009 at 5:19 am

I have great expectations for this game, I really want it badly!!!!!!!!!!

It's a great idea that the Bayo-staff members offer us information like this.

Great post Shimako!!!!!!!!! by the way there is no big deal if you want to write more lines in the future, there are no "long stories" for us (Bayonetta's eagers-fans, I mean)

I just would like to know if there is going to be a "Collector Edition" with an artbook, and now that I'm dreaming what about an action figure?

Keep the nice work, saludos desde Santa Cruz – Bolivia

Sunshade Posted on April 20, 2009 at 7:42 am

Shimizaki-san, I just wanted to say that you've done an awesome job.

Pree Posted on April 20, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Beautiful and a very interesting blog indeed.

PlatinumWhiteGamer Posted on April 21, 2009 at 10:31 am

After playing MadWorld, I'm really looking forward for this game. Keep them coming Platinum.

Linkyshinks Posted on April 21, 2009 at 11:26 pm

As much as I love your work, I have to say I think the characters face is not as well replicated in 3D as it could be. The face here looks sexy, but in the 3D model it seems languid in comarison to the body itself.

Dez Posted on April 22, 2009 at 3:43 am

What a nice design. And of course Kamiya-san would love girls with glasses. Girls with glasses always look great. :)

So does Bayonetta, of course.

SSfox Posted on April 23, 2009 at 5:13 am

Great job Miss Mari Shimazaki , Hideki Kamiya and all other Bayonetta's Staff , you have great sense of creativity and you're doing a great job and i know that Bayonetta will be great and a reference in genre like the first DMC was

The Character Bayonetta is just awesome

Humberto Posted on April 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Well, well. You know in my school they have a division for fashion design and the illustrations look like they were made by a fashion designer, it's all very pretty, too.

Rafael Arbulu Posted on April 25, 2009 at 5:40 am

Nice sketches! Wish I could draw like that…

Persona Posted on April 27, 2009 at 6:34 am

Miss Shimazaki, how did you develop your style? Who are your influences and such?

When I first saw these character designs, I thought they were drawn by Makoto Tsuchibayashi but was surprised to see it was someone else.

I would love to see more of your other designs and work in this blog.

RVR- 42 Posted on April 29, 2009 at 8:20 am

Miss Shimazaki…you are great. Oh my gosh! Wonderful, wonderful. I love this. I'm loving this game more and more everyday. I'm going to be dreaming of this. Bayonetta is such a sexy woman. Meow!

Awesome job!

Sihui Posted on May 3, 2009 at 11:48 pm

The first impression of this game is strange. A modern witch will like none of other action game characters I seen before. Long hair made a dramatic difference. For me, her hair style reminds me the goddess in Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato. See the following links you will easily find out the goddess (in white) I mentioned. Based on the story I got from video, it seems that hair style suits the character.

I like the Devil May Cry clothing. When character running, Gothic Long Coat waving in the wind made me feel the characters are so real and cool. This time the long hair is like the Waka in Okami and I was thinking the long hairs may lead to same style. But I got it wrong. In the video, the movements are so fast that hairs are more like the traces of movement.

In the video, I smelled some God Hand style in tone of some characters. Also in the game, the purple outline been removed, make me feel better. I just saw little red in black suit. I think that’s more close to the dark witch style.

Most impressive part is guns tied with ankles and fire with each kick. As the “Bayonetta Final Design” is not that clear, I was wondering there are only 2 guns in hands, where are other 2.

One thing I can not make myself agree with is, the glasses linked with an action character. I think most of people will feel the glasses are annoying when s/he try to do some sports. Since she has all the miraculous power, I feel the glass became an encumbrance for her. Besides, for me, the glasses leading to Office lady feeling and make she kind of weak. Maybe the glass is linked with character story, or we will get some other costumes for her after we kicked final boss’s ass.

Good luck to the whole team and waiting for this new action game.

somewheresomeplace Posted on October 10, 2009 at 2:08 am

OMG… I just played the demo for ps3 today and i REALLY want to cosplay her.

GREAT job done with the illustrations, i loved your graphic style (i'm a fashion designer)… I'm so in love of her, can't help it!

Patricia Finale Posted on February 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I think I like her body the most. Its not because of the voluptuous shape (Although that may have something to do with it- ok a lot) but just the fact that she doesn't look 'petite' or 'weak' she looks like an independent female that isn't so superhuman with muscles. Her up-do is amazing and I think make's her just look as mysterious as the glasses she wears. Keywords and imagination is a part of the process, well that seems pretty neat.

j_j22 Posted on February 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm

you are my dream come true!a awesome artist.thanks,miss shimazaki,

Caithargic Posted on February 10, 2010 at 8:59 am

I really love her character design especially her glasses!!! =)

I wonder if it'll be out in the market soon Ü, I'll definitely buy one!

Cloud_Belmont Posted on April 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Very cool history, thanks.

Bayonetta is non similar.

Gerard Posted on June 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Awesome I love your art Bayonetta is so cool

Biking Games Posted on May 31, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Awesome Shimizaki-san! I love how stylish your art-style is! Can't wait to see even more characters!

bimago Posted on June 19, 2015 at 10:24 am

I was looking for an information about the obsession with the sexy cosplay and somehow Google sendme this result??? Still a good article. *-* Bayonetta is such an amazing character, strong and beauty design. Thanks for sharing!!!!

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