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Giant of  the Steppe

Giant of the Steppe

A young girl travels through the steppe, on the back of the Giant Yakram she calls her home.

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The short "Giant of the Steppe" was made over the course of half a year by a team of six students. It serves as a glimpse into a larger story, about a young girl travelling through the vast landscapes of the steppe on the back of a Great Yakram, looking for her lost family. She lives a completely nomadic lifestyle, with all supplies she needs located on the back of her animal friend.

Within these 80 seconds of film we follow the girl, Asel, through her morning routine on the back of this huge beast.

This film was made at Howest - Digital Arts and Enterainment under supervision of Dirk Lambrecht.
Music by Lea Keyaert, Sound Design by Liam Nagels.



Plov the Giant Yakram went through quite a few iterations. He is based on a large assortment of animals, including bison, yaks, and musk oxes. In the early stages of his development he was about the size of a large horse, but with every iteration he grew until he reached the whopping 13m height he is today.

We started off with a sculpt, then simulated the hair on top of him in Houdini. We textured him with a base color layer with a lot of color variation, so the hair that was simulated on top looked layered and realistic. 

Plov's scale was a challenge to translate, as we had to convey his immense weight in the way he moved. This was applicable to the fur as well, as it had to sway very slowly but not look floaty. Since the audience sees him from very up close, we also had to simulate the hair incredibly densely so as not to show bald spots.

Concept by Mari Gallet | Model and rig by Theoni Fotoglou | Fur Simulation by Arnout Zeghari | Animation by Finn De Brie


Asel brought with her her own set of challenges. It was our first time simulating hair and clothes, as well as fur on her hat, coat and boots. Her design is based on Mongolian nomads and shepherds.

Concepts by Mari Gallet |Model by Katharina Alexander | Rig and Clothes by Theoni Fotoglou | Animation by Finn De Brie


This project features two environments at the same time: the compact housing system on Plov's back as well as the vast Mongolian steppe beyond it. We wanted to clearly convey the self sufficiency of the houses, so we equipped it with a pulley system, food storage and lots of storage space.

Concepts by Mari Gallet | Environment and Props by Katharina Alexander | Saddle by Theoni Fotoglou | Rope Simulations by Roy Terium | Water and Smoke Simulations by Arnout Zeghari


The stylized look of the film was achieved by a combination of handpainted materials and custom compositing layers. In the final stage of the film, we used kuwahara filters, half-toned highlights and cross-hatched shadows to make the project pop.

We wanted to convey a soft, early morning atmosphere which was achieved by warm sunlight and a purple-pink ambient lighting.

We combined offline with realtime rendering in unreal engine, to speed up rendertimes.

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