Old man on a ship

I made my first cycles rendered image. But a few things I don’t like about it, but didn’t get it right.

The first thing is the skin of the old man. It looks a bit plastic to me. Any hints, what to change to make look more like skin?
Then the white dots at the wall from the ship. I used 500 rounds for this image and no caustics. Do I have to use more rounds or may it be another problem?
Any other comments? :slight_smile:

Is this the reverse angle of “To Prince Edward Island” by Alex Coleville? Doesn’t look like PEI in the bg, but the rest…

In my experience, “white dots” appear when the math that’s being done by Cycles does not converge onto a solution. You tend to see them when the lighting in a particular area is subtle or when geometry is tight in a small space. If the speckles are there at 5,000 passes, they’ll still be there with 25,000.

Cycles renders tend to be uniform, flat, and therefore by themselves uninteresting. It’s the nature of the beast, and Cycles is really good at those big, indirect lighting solutions. But an interesting photograph is all about light and shadow.

The best all around approach that I have found is to use Cycles for an initial, broad-brushed, “soft box” lighting setup, then follow that with BI-introduced shadows, accent lights and so on, composited into the scene. In your shot, Cycles is doing a great job of giving you that “cloudy sky it’s about to rain buckets” lighting over the entire scene and the ManCandy. And, it’s doing a terrible job with the specular highlights, as it often does. Consider masking out the railings and various other areas and doing those with BI. Also use shadow-only spotlights as appropriate.