Thanks to all who gave feedback. I agree the ladle looks a bit rough in that closeup. The underwater scenes could use a bit more work on detail too, but it’s a matter of deciding where the camera really will go.
I have some voronoi “fake caustics” animating on the white wall and under the roof, but considering the render time can go from 75min to 4hrs on regular resolutions, I won’t be doing much animation at full power. The rest of the comments about the water needing more “life” are right-- I need better environment, more careful fresnel and rippling.
Yes, as seen from inside, the rice paper shouji and lanterns are translucent, and area lights behind the paper try to show the structure of the rice paper as well as the shadows of the willow leaves. Two small area lights are inside each lantern, one upward and one downward.
I need more bamboo but it’s a bit hard to model nicely. Each joint is complicated, and repeating a joint too many times will look artificial. I think I’ll be putting tall bamboo on the far side of the garden wall, to give more shade, green indirect lighting, and atmosphere to the small garden itself.
Again, thanks for comments and I’ll welcome any others.