Persona 5 Developer Interview About Graphics, Modeling, Visual Design


As previously announced, CGWORLD magazine Vol. 218 (released on September 10, 2016) contains a six-page feature on the visual production behind Persona 5.

Scans of this feature have surfaced and a summary of the information in the article has been translated by @MysticDistance:

Game Engine

  • The event scene creator for Persona 5 was developed in-house at Atlus.
  • The framework behind event scenes allowed for mass production and easily switching assets ON and OFF in any given scene.
  • The shader for Persona 5, for the manga style graphics, was also created in-house.
  • The new internal engine for Persona 5 started being developed shortly after the release of Catherine in February 2011, with the experience gained from developing that game. [In August 2011, Hashino had confirmed Atlus finished developing their own internal engine for Persona 5.]
  • The in-house developed toon shader” for Persona 5 allowed for Soejima’s distinctive 2D illustration design style to be brought to life. It allowed for lighting and posture shapes to be created, with elements such as rim lighting and edge shaders to be freely used in order to convey that specific 2D style.


  • The Persona 5 main character’s model is rendered at around 14K to 17K polygons.
  • The average Persona model is rendered at around 10k polygons.
  • Persona texture color maps are at 256 x 256, edge light maps are at 1024 x 1024. Posture shadow maps are at 1024 x 1024, with specular maps at 128 x 128. Facial color maps are at 256 x 256. From body, hair, to facial details, each are all divided in the same way.
  • Posture shadow mapping refers to how a character is positioned, e.g. the main character putting one hand in his pocket or both hands.
  • Complete modeling process:
    • Complete the design of the character, then begin modeling.
    • Bones are inserted. Then, weight is adjusted and so is the animation. Animations are developed in parallel to the textures.
    • The shader settings and facial expression data is worked on.
    • They verify the model by testing it completely and then fine-tuning it as needed from there until it’s complete.
  • Character designer Shigenori Soejima is generally more of a fan of slender character models.
  • Each model has two variations of its silhouette:
    • (As seen on the second page with two main character models): The left model is a “close-up” form, which has a lot of importance. This model is used in real-time demo scenes.
    • The model on the right is the general-use model used for event scenes and other things.
  • In Persona 4, the characters had a deformed look with only four different head-to-body model types. In Persona 5, the head-to-body model types were able to be made as the developers pleased.


  • Active development of Persona 5 began in 2011 shortly after the release of Catherine (as reported in a recent, large Hashino interview). At the time, the main staff behind the game’s production consisted of 40 people.
  • During mass production, the number of staff members was approximately 70 people: 15 planners, 15 programmers and at least 30 to 45 designers.
  • Notable staff:
    • Lead designer: Naoya Maeda (did model designs for Trauma Team).
    • Art Director: Masayoshi Sutou

Gameplay Elements

  • The layouts for locations are divided into three types: the normal map (student life), institutions (e.g. Syujin High School, Takemi’s clinic) and dungeons.
  • The in-game locations in Tokyo all reference real world counterparts. The time of day, weather variations and seasons were all specifically designed to reflect the real world.
  • There are around 1,160 event scenes in Persona 5.


  • The workflow for Persona 5 was intentionally changed, as developing the image quality for PS4 was quite the challenge.
  • Persona 3 and Persona 4 had a ton of event scenes, but the tools were available to implement them. With Persona 5, Maeda states that those tools had to be expanded upon to tackle those sorts of things and maintain the series’ charm on a new generation of consoles.

CGWORLD (officially “CGWORLD + digital video”) is a monthly Japanese magazine about digital content produced using 3DCG. Volume 218 was released on September 10, 2016.

Persona 5 is slated to be released for the PS3 and PS4 in Japan on September 15, 2016. It will release in North America and Europe on February 14, 2017, and in traditional Chinese and Korean in 2017.