mystery machine header

Art Spotlight: The Mystery Machine

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About Me

Hey guys, my name is Kalin and I’m currently living in Bulgaria. I got my Master’s in Visual Communication Design back in 1999, worked in a couple of ‘big’ international advertising agencies for some years doing animation, print, web design, flash games, and once in a while real-time 3D visualizations. My real passion since the 1980s lies in video games, though, so I switched to freelance around 10 years ago working mostly on indie games with indie teams. Around 3 years ago I published my own one-man-show game on STEAM to an unexpected (for what the game actually is) success.

The Idea

As a one-man band, I have learned some things, but most of all is optimization of resources and time, to get things done fast and cheap. Therefore, I like to do these personal challenges of creating light/minimalistic models with small texture size and still try to make them look decent.


Scooby was among my childhood favorite cartoons in the 80s, then Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (2010) was my older son’s favorite, so I searched around Sketchfab and found that there is still a place for the little scene I had in my head.

Software and workflow

Since we indies/freelancers need to have the whole arsenal of tools and still be legit, I use a combination of cheap and free tools. For this challenge, I used Nevercenter Silo to model and unwrap, Affinity Designer to draw the texture, Akeytsu to rig and animate the model and, of course, Sketchfab to display it.

The model of the Mystery Machine is simple, made using only a couple of screenshots as reference, trying to keep the geometry clean, but not avoiding triangles.

mystery machine model

I did the modeling, unwrapping and texture drawing at the same time, going back and forth adjusting vertices, moving UV islands while drawing.

mystery machine UV layout

I optimized in cool ways, in order to fit the whole body, wheels and characters in the upper half of the texture square.

vector texture

I used a vector program for the texture, because I needed clean lines and the possibility to export at any resolution. Also, because I simply like drawing with vectors.

vector art 3d

The ‘Mystery Inc.’ characters are screenshots from the 2010 show. The background part is made using free vectors from the web mixed with my own drawings.

mystery machine spooky castle

The UV mapping for the tiling road and forest is made by hand. As the scene is small, I decided that it would be the fastest and easiest way around.

animated mystery machine

After the model was done, I jumped into Akeytsu to create a very simple rig and animation loop and behold, the scene looks decently similar to the cartoon.

mystery machine animation loop

However, the final touch is given in Sketchfab. To achieve the flat, simple cartoon look I disabled almost every one of the wonderful features you offer.

sketchfab 3d editor

Sketchfab works! Its rendering looks better and works faster than other dedicated standalone software. Its interface has no learning curve; everything is clear and logical. The community is huge with people so talented, that I catch myself spending hours learning from the models. Thank you!


About the author

Kalin Krastev

A kid that forgot to grow up!

1 Comment

  • vicsar says:

    I enjoyed this very much, nice animation. I would have given Shaggy and Scooby a bit more “stardom”. Great work. I wish I had this level of expertise.

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