How do I achieve photorealism?

As I’ve spent roughly $1000 on a Titan graphics card for use with Cycles, I really need to know how I can put it to use to render photorealistic scenes.

I’ve decided that I want this gun, bag and bullets to be placed in a showcase as if it was in a museum (see picture below).

But I can’t seem to figure out how to make it photorealistic. Nothing I make has so far been even near photorealism.

I need some tips on how to achieve photorealism.

Better lighting setup.

Truthfully, you could do with higher-res models and better textures, but lighting is 80% of the work when it comes to realism.
In particular this light is incredibly diffuse, which only highlights the low-res of the models.

Moved from “General Forums > Blender and CG Discussions” to “Support > Lighting and Rendering”

Some tips for improvements:

-Lighting: looks like you just used a (low dynamic range) environment map. There is nearly no shadow definition, maybe try to add a sun lamp with a small size to add some highlights and shadows. Or/And go for a better high dynamic range environment map (.hdr/.exr).

-Models: They’re way to low resolution, being able to see sharp corners on the edges looks not believable. Subsurface modeling is your friend with raytracing engines, polygon count doesn’t matter as much, you can go into the tens of millions without problems, especially since your using a titan, use that memory! Consider adding displacement maps instead of just relying on bumpmapping, this can look very obvious. The bullets also look way to big to fit into that barrel.

-Background: that texture looks like wallpaper, i’ve never seen wallpaper as a floor. Could also be cloth, but it’s too low resolution to tell, and is it only a simple textured plane? definately could use some work.

-Textures: Looks like your quite on the limit of texture resolution, definately use bigger textures if you want photo realism. The bag doesn’t look very much like a bag, more like a muddy and wet triangular stone, everything in your image seems to be mostly diffuse, and some objects have some sharp glossy ontop. Look at some reference photos to see how light reflects on cloth.

-Little things that matter: You can easily add realism to the cloth bag and the rope by adding particle systems to instantiate little fibers, they catch light and add a fuzzy feel to them. Maybe also experiment with different shaders setups there. Add scratches which dont reflect as much or some dirt buildup in those ridges.

-Scene Composition: find an interesting perspective, a straight on shot is boring and looks flat because you can only judge depth from reflections, also all the objects just lie there perfectly flat. No overlapping, it looks like someone carefully placed the items there. Maybe bend the rope on top of the barrel. (Curve Modifier so you can easily adjust it)

A great artwork also consists of alot more than realistic looking assets. Consider those questions: What is the purpose of your artwork? What thoughts/emotions do you want to trigger in people looking at your work? A simple background or a small scene around your objects adds alot. Imagine a shot of a pirate ships floor, flat camera angle, being able to look over planks into the sea in the background. Think of a scenario yourself.

I hope i’m not offending you with all those suggestions, you definately have a great start with the gun. I can imagine it already looking very good as a game model in the state is now. You just need to go the extra mile. Good luck! :slight_smile:

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Ok, now I am up at 3.8 million faces.

It is lagging already and hard to navigate in the viewport.

I can’t see myself what else needs to be tweaked, but I am still not satisfied. It doesn’t look realistic enough, but I can’t figure out what is missing?

From an amateuer: I would add some light to get a bit brighter spots and darker shadows. The bag seems too glossy. What material is the underground? Is the bag made of linen?

The bag is made of leather. I used a leather material I downloaded.

Do any of you think this is any better?

Hi philosopher.

Here something i would like to point out;

  • The Background is overblown. ( To much bump for being fabric )
  • The bag still looks a bit flat. ( Probably will need more wrinkles )
  • Probably the lightning is not working yet. ( It looks a bit to high )

I will recommend this tutorial by Andrew Price.

It talks more about texturing, but after that i will encourage you to make some more research about lightning wich i will say it is more than 50% when achieving photorealism.

After all this, also a DOF ( Depth of Field also helps, probably aiming at the gun, well, this really depends of the story you want to tell or the sentiment you would like to share with the audience ).

Hope I helped in any way. Keep it up I think you are going in the right direction.

Love the gun model.


If you would like to make a scene in museum. I would suggest you go to the internet, get some reference images showcasing exhibits in a museum. Try to replicate the lighting from the images.

Thank you. My scene is just a test scene. I plan to replace it with a museum-like scene.

How do you guys think my gun look? Is it realistic enough, what needs to be adjusted etc.?

gexwing has given you some great advice here not to miss or underestimate, but IMO the lack of photorealism in your renderings is 90% because of bad lighting.

You definitely need to learn how to light properly. So my best suggestion is to buy the following book and read it from start to finish before you continue. You’ll see …the light, literally! (I have read the previous edition and it’s one of the few books that …I regret I didn’t buy earlier!)

Then apply that precious knowledge to your models/scenes using Cycles, since it allows for a very accurate simulation of real lighting conditions in Blender:

Another important thing is the mood. Your should take care to provide the proper mood for your museum exhibits. Since your composition is about a gun, make it dramatic -which can be done with proper, dramatic lighting (of course, the critical details should be visible). The proper composition and materials, helps too. I think this should be your priority and criteria to judge the final result, it should reproduce the proper emotions to the viewer of those exhibits, being just photo-realistic is not enough (IMO of course).