You have some nice models there! I especially like the croissant and the seal on the envelope.
The textures and materials are also quite good on the whole, except for the envelope material, that one seems weird to me.
Nonetheless the overall render looks somehow plain to me.
I have two suggestions on how to change this “plain” impression:
That one is really important!
There seems to be no “contrast” in your scene, no shadows and no light-“structure”, the objects seem to float in the air.
The light seems to come equally from all directions, that is not how it is in the real world.
Choose a main direction from where the light should come and build your lighting-setup around this main-light.
There are many tutorials on lighting, look them up. I recommend you this tutorial from Blenderguru: http://www.blenderguru.com/videos/mastering-lighting/
This suggestion is not as important as the first one in my opinion, because there are already many details in your scene.
But there is always a way to put more details into something.
For example you could put a cigarette in the ashtray. Also there is a lack of dirt, on the table, on the papers, on the plate (crumbs), around the cup (coffe-drops, a opened sugar-pack)…
But as I said, I don’t consider these details as important as the lighting.
That’s my feedback for you. I hope it’s helpful. Please consider, that it’s solely based on my opinion.
Woha, that’s a big improvement already! Light is everything
I see that you turned down the size of the table-texture. Looks good!
I also like the details you added. Your render is looking really good right now in my opinion.
Do you mind if I criticise a little more?:
The envelope-material looks better than before, but now it may look a little bit too much like clay. Could need some work maybe.
I would also change the color of either the notebook or the envelope, because right now they have the same color? (change the color or make one of both darker/brighter). But of course only if it matches your vision.
Furthermore I would change the “crumbs” of the crossaint into 3-dimensional crumbs instead of flat drops. It may look okay on the small sized picture, but as soon as you open the larger version, the drops are catching the eye.
wait? improvement? the whole thing has gotten darker and is a lot harder to see. the issue wasnt with the light, it was the shadows making everything look flat. now it looks flat and dull. your cutlery and the money tray look like cheap aluminium, just slightly more reflective than grey plastic. i realise they dont need to be shiny chrome like the pen fixtures but it could be closer to stainless steel by either adding a bit more white to the material or a bit more gloss, maybe try the new aniostropic node to get some good metallic looking distortions
add some light to the scene to help bring out your textures again as you have lost a lot of detail on the pouch/envelope thing. but dont lose the shadows that you do have, just make them a little more contrasty, and give a tiny (teeny tiny) amount of reflection on the table just to help pint all the things down
As an image is worth some talking, I’ve made a quick paint-over and re-compositing of your shot. Your main problem is composition : your render lacks color and value contrast, but also every single object is eye-catching, very shiny. There is no center to the composition, or unique object that drives the attention due to a particular position in the image space. You have potential there, but you just need to move your objects and camera around in order to give a clear focus to the viewer.
Then the values etc. all come from your lights : having two opposite lights with subtle, opposite tones (like soft yellow/orange against a delicate light blue) would help to shape your object, to slightly give them more contour. Just try to be cooler on the saturation of your light colors.
Some more ambient occlusion would also help to ground your assets on the table, right now they look a bit floaty.
Hopefully the image will give you a more clear idea of what to do.
Keep it up and you’ll end up with a pretty nice piece of work.
Small Troll: Ok, I brightened it up, tweaked the letter texture, and the stainless steel. Anastropic wasn’t really working, but I think this tweak did the trick. And I added a really small (almost undistinguishable) reflection to the table:
Ok, Valerian. I messed around with the composition, camera angle and focal length. I also tweaked a couple of textures. Then I sent it through the node editor with a vingette and messed with the colours a bit:
the cutlery looked better, but i think moving things around you have shifted your lights so it is darker again. the croissant no longer makes visual sense, if they have just taken a chunk off with the fork why is the brocken edge furthest away? surely you would break off the closest point first and work back? or perhaps thats just me, but it looks awkward
… so you are saying that shadows are magically appearing next to objects?
I don’t think that this is how it works. One of the main issues of the first version was lighting, especially if it was the shadows fault making everything look flat… because there were no shadows.
Apart of that I agree with you when you say that the picture looks too dark right now.
Nonetheless I wouldn’t really change the lighting set-up as it is right now (in terms of positioning the lights). Instead try to make it somehow brighter (and/or play a little bit with the colours).
Not a big fan of vignetting usually, but in this render it really fits my taste.
Maybe you could give thought about what exactly your main light source is.
If it’s a window, something like a shadow of the window would be cool. Here is something to give you an idea of what I am speaking:
The composition would benefit if the knife and the too saturated blue signet would be removed (signet more desaturated). It is leading the view to much to the left.
Maybe the same with the fork. … Is there one person in the world, who is eating crossants with a fork?
The spoon seems a little bit to thin.
And maybe try to reduce the saturation overall a little bit.
You’re getting too cluttered with your setup. You just should make a copy of your file, and delete all your lights in the scene, then work your way back into it with a medium gray material override at render. Otherwise you might keep having a tough time making more than small changes.