Artem Case Studies

The Great - Special Props Yekaterina UK Ltd

The Great - created by MRC for Hulu – is an anti-historical ride through 18th Century Russia depicting the wildly comic rise of Catherine the Great. Inspired by (but not strictly sticking to) true events, the series was written by Tony McNamara and directed by Matt Shakman. A star-studded cast includes Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Gwilym Lee, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge and Sacha Dhawan. It was shot in London and Italy.

Artem were asked to create a number of special and soft props for the series, reflecting the mixture of beauty, quirkiness and gruesomeness that characterises the look and feel of this production. Commissions included human trachea ‘flutes’, a life-sized cooked moose, a bible soft prop, a testicle torture clamp and some sprouting wheat.

The original trachea flute was 3D printed in a hollow, semi-clear flexible acrylic to create a rigid substrate. Once it had been cleaned up, sanded and primed it was hand-painted in a textured, pigmented silicone to achieve a soft, flesh-like quality and art-worked to look like a human trachea. We also made a soft prop flute, art-worked to match the original.

Our soft prop bible was based on a beautiful antique bible supplied by our client. The hero book was 3D scanned to create a digital version, which was then exported to our CNC router and machined out in MDF, whilst the front and rear covers, the spine, the metal lock and detailing were 3D printed.

We then assembled all the parts to create a mould tool, from which a one-piece soft foam prop was cast out. The soft bible was painted and art-worked to match the original book.

Most impressive, in size terms, was the full-scale moose; an enormous beast, part-cooked and eaten. It had visible ribs, an open stomach (with cooked flesh missing) and a non-cooked head. The body was 3D sculpted in sections on our 7-axis robot arm and assembled, before being hard-coated with an epoxy resin and art-worked to simulate cooked and burned flesh. A taxidermy head was attached and finessed to reflect its proximity to the fire.

The testicle torture clamps were laser-cut in component form from 5mm thick aluminium sheet and finished with a polished metal effect. The prop was fully practical. No Artem technicians were hurt in the testing of this piece…

The series is available on Hulu (US) and Starzplay (via Amazon Prime) and is currently airing on Channel 4 and All4 in the UK. Season 2 has been commissioned.

Watch the original Hulu trailer for The Great here.


  • TV
  • CNC Machining & 3D printing
  • Models & Miniatures
  • Props
  • Sculpture
  • GRP & Composite processes
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