Noob looking for feedback and tips

Hi all,

I’m working on a scene, just practicing the stuff I’ve learned and trying a couple new things. See my render img below…

I’m having two issues with the leaves: (I followed the instructions from this tutorial)

  1. The whole plane of the leaves (outside the leaf mask area) are showing specularity or shininess. The only thing I’ve found to make it better is to crank up the specular hardness, but even then, if I rotate the leaf to just the right angle, it still looks like a leaf glued to a piece of cellophane. Any ideas?

  2. What can I do to get shadows in the shape of the leaf mask (instead of square shadows)?

Also, I’d like to make the pieces of wood a little more worn looking… is that a subsurface thing? Is there a built-in modifier or something that will make it look a bit more like clay than a perfectly cornered box, or would I have to soften the modeling by hand?

Thanks much!!!

for 1) You need a spec map
Not sure about the second

Ray tracing should take care of the shadow issues.
For the wood, you can either bevel or use subsurf with creasing (I’d suggest bevel for this)