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Interview with Lydia “Phrisk” Zanotti, Valorant 3D Artist

Interview with Lydia “Phrisk” Zanotti, Valorant 3D Artist
Written by: Yoann

Yoann: Hey, hello everyone! Today I’m with Phrisk, she’s a 3D environment artist! How would you introduce yourself?


Phrisk: Hi! I’m Lydia Zanotti, I also go by the name Phrisk and I’m an environment artist and a level designer. I’ve been in the game industry for a decade, and I’ve worked for companies like Riot, Valve, and Amazon!

Yoann: That’s amazing! How did you learn 3D?


Phrisk: I went to an art school for graphic design, and I fell in love with the 3D classes. But I never finished my art school degree. 

Yoann: When and how did you start working as a 3D artist?


Phrisk: I ended up dropping out of art school because I started applying for jobs around the US. I got my first full-time job working on the Saints Row franchise!

Yoann: Nice! Which software are you using?


Phrisk: Oh, I use a ton of software! For modelling I use 3DS max, for sculpting I use Zbrush, for texturing I use Substance Painter or Designer, for cloth I use Marvelous, and for foliage I use Speedtree. There are a few others, but that’s all I’ll name for now!

Yoann: Okay, that’s interesting! You've previously worked on CSGO and Valorant, what can you tell us about that?


Phrisk: I joined Riot in early 2018 to start working on Valorant. The first thing I ever worked on was the lantern room on Bind. I also worked on Haven, Ascent, Split, Icebox, Breeze… And I also spent a month working on the shooting range. After Breeze came out, I switched to Valve, it was mainly to help port the CS maps to CS2, and do an overhaul on the maps!

Yoann: What's the thought process behind creating the environment of a new map?


Phrisk: I gather a ton of references, and I make a vision board for what I want to make. Including the color palette, silhouettes, and shapes of the building, or even concepts or pictures from the internet. It’s always good to have solid foundations when you are making maps for FPS games, especially a good layout! 

Yoann: For sure! What's your favorite looking map?


Phrisk: Split! Easy one, I love Split! It was one of the maps I tried not to put boxes everywhere, FPS maps often have boxes. It just has a good color palette, and it has these two big towers on each bombsite, it’s such a great map!



Yoann: Are you the one who created the shop in the defenders’ spawn? I love how this show evolves with every update!


Phrisk: Yeah! I love that they tease new stuff using that room.

Yoann: Which map has been the most challenging to design?


Phrisk: Probably Bind, it’s one of the oldest maps in the game. It went through so many changes. At one point, the map was half ice, half sand, but we ended up pulling out the ice idea. The art style also changed a lot. We added the Kingdom lore to the game, and we had to add Kingdom elements to the map. It was one of the most challenging to create! 

Yoann: That’s amazing! How's the atmosphere behind the scenes, working on video games?


Phrisk: It’s good! It doesn’t always feel like a job! You get to play games and collaborate with people similar to you. But it’s not always easy, it can be a difficult industry to be in. Games fail, studios lay off people, they close down… Those are just a couple of issues game developers face.

Yoann: Yeah, for sure! Let’s now move on to the Quick Questions part. I will ask you 10 quick questions, and you'll have to answer as fast as possible, ready?


Phrisk: Yeah!

Yoann: Phantom or Vandal?


Phrisk: Phantom!

Yoann: What's your favorite map to play?


Phrisk: Split!

Yoann: Who's your favorite agent?


Phrisk: Sage!

Yoann: What's your favorite skin collection?


Phrisk: The Dragon one, Elderflame!

Yoann: Do you follow Valorant's esports?


Phrisk: Yeah!

Yoann: What's your favorite team?


Phrisk: Probably Sentinels!

Yoann: What's your favorite Photoshop tool?


Phrisk: Haha, the Topaz plugin!

Yoann: How often do you play Valorant?


Phrisk: I don’t play often anymore.

Yoann: What kind of music do you listen to while working?


Phrisk: Lo-fi!

Yoann: Can you quote a voice line from your favorite agent?


Phrisk: I think she says something like “I am a mountain, you are a bolder”!

Yoann: Haha great! Let’s now get back to the standard questions. 

What are your hobbies or passions aside from 3D?


Phrisk: Gaming, tattoos, graffiti, I’m also really big into F1!

Yoann: Great! What would you change to Valorant if you were a balance developer?


Phrisk: Since I’m a map developer, it would be something map-related. I never got to work on the map Fracture, but I pitched the idea of what it should look like just before I left. I think I would add more verticality, and make it a little taller. And probably rework both sides of the zip line, and open it up to help watch for flanks or rotates.

Yoann: What would you say to someone willing to pursue 3D as a career?


Phrisk: Look at the studios you want to work for, and try to replicate the quality of their art. There are also a ton of free tutorials online, on Artstation, on YouTube, and there are free software like Blender, you can learn to 3D model with that.

Yoann: Cool! What are your short and long-term ambitions as a 3D artist? 


Phrisk: Short term, I’d like to learn certain pieces of software, and I want to invest some time into practicing those! 

Long term, I would love to be an art director, in FPS games! That would be awesome!

Yoann: For sure! Is there anything else you would like to say?


Phrisk: If you like Counter-Strike, if you like Valorant, definitely follow me! I love posting stuff about FPS games in general!

Yoann: Thank you so much for your time, and I wish you the best for this new year!


Phrisk: Thank you!

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