I see what you mean about the general glossiness. I’ll look into it. Most of the shaders are procedural and have a common set of controls. Adjusting them should not be too much of an issue.
I do use HDRI (Pro Lighting Skys) for my lighting, but the light bulbs inside each compartment also add some lighting.
I haven’t played with the AO node yet. I’ll look into it.
Thanks for the link to the cut-away shader. It looks clever. I won’t be doing an animation, so it probably won’t be useful for this project, but its good to know it exists.
I had thought about playing with a semi-transparent view like your engine. I was concerned that exterior details would make it difficult to really tell what was going on inside the sub. I’m already having some issues trying to decide how to cut away areas that have details several layers deep (like the officer’s compartment below). I want to show that there is an oil bunker between the pressure hull and the crew compartment. I also want to show the battery arrangement below the crew area. The result is an oddly chopped up cut-away that shows a variety of layers. I’m not sure it works though.