Chevy’Dude - Tried the normals recalc, no effect, but thanks for the suggestion.
New images, after some minor remodeling:
This is the actual size render, each lighting component added in sequentially:
Far left top: Lights only, no AO, no SSS. Smoothly rendered creases.
Far left bottom: Lights + AO. Smoothly rendered creases.
Top right pair: Lights + SSS, no AO. Jaggy creases in “pre-render”, blotchy crease shadows in the full render.
Bottom right pair: Lights + AO + SSS. Again, jaggy creases in “pre-render”, blotchy crease shadows in the full render.
This series is a 2X zoom, making the blotchiness easier to see, same order as above.
PapaSmurf – As the new images show, it’s not the lighting, it’s the SSS – for some reason, the shadowed creases are not smoothed (AA’d) as the other mesh surface areas seem to be, almost as if the SSS calculation breaks down in these areas for some reason. Or maybe it’s a contrast issue (dark shadows near brighter tones)? Darkness of the shadows is no problem, but rather the blotchy roughness they show, which correspond to the jaggy crease shadows of the SSS “pre-render” (see the zoomed image series).
Just to clarify, my lighting consists of a size 8, samples 8 area light used only for shadowing (no illumination), a hemi light for the very diffuse directional light, acting as both key and fill, a low-value AO, and the SSS effects. Scene ambient light is 0.30, neutral color (R=G=B). Material uses .25 ambient. Note the soft-edged RT area light shadows cast by the nose and jaw (full size image series). When SSS isn’t used (see 2X image series, images at left), the crease shadows are very smooth.
Obviously this is a problem stemming from the SSS. I was hoping it had been encountered and that there was some settings adjustment that could fix it.