Time to talk about lighting, environment and rendering settings:
These are 12 different renderings (not in order of creation) exploring only a few variables. You may recognize some problems you are finding in your own progress renderings, and hopefully we can talk about that this week. For today we should focus on identifying what style you would prefer to achieve. Everyone says "I want my project to look like a photograph." Well, have you ever taken a photography class? If not you might be surprised to find out how vague your goal really is. A real camera can give you a very wide array of results! It just so happens that in the 3D world the way you achieve the same thing is by manipulating things other than aperture size, F-stop, shutter speed and time of day or lighting levels. If only we could just say, "I want this to look like an aperture width of 2, an F-stop of 8, focused at infinity, with a 28mm lens, slightly under-exposed on a cloudy day at 2pm," click. Oh, what film type was that? See what I mean?
Anyway, think about what you're getting now and what you'd like to achieve. I'd like to say we'll have a lecture on Thursday about this, but to get the class going it might have to be today depending on where everyone is at with those darn materials. We should try to keep in mind that the materials will look different under altered rendering settings, and perhaps this is the perfect time to switch it up.
This particular model has one basic material in it, and it looks fairly different when I change the shadow type, etc. And if you're curious, I was working on making an environment effect, so I have two suns and two skies, all with different properties but in the same location, under different activation combinations... and I changed render engines once, environments a couple times and shadows all different ways. As long as you keep notes while messing around I encourage doing several studies like this.