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So I've been modelling things for quite a while now, but now I need to actually learn to render them, as in scenes etc.; as you can see by pic related, I am... quite a shit at it. All I can find is things like "how to reduce grain" or "how to make renders look even better" (geared towards intermediate). I can't find anything that assumes I know absolutely zero about setting up a scene and how to make my first renders not look like dogshit. Yeah, sure, I can stick lights in there, but my renders still look like they were made in the early 90's.

tl;dr how do I be not shit at rendering in Blender?
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I've heard a lot about Cycles and how it's becoming more common, but I still run into the issue of "I don't know what the fuck I'm doing here".
have you not followed any tutorials?
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Darling, just google "rendering basics blender" or just hit f12 and try different things out.

Rendering itself can be either very simple or very complex task depending on your scene.
You will get better by trying and solving emerging problems, such as noise, clipping, ugly shaders etc.

If you feel that you don't know what rendering even is, this link may help you.

I'm a novice myself, infact kind of the opposite of you; I'm shit at modeling but I like setting up nice looking scenes with other people's models.

What you need to understand is that a good looking render is made up of:

1) Lights

2) Materials

3) Render settings

4) Compositing

5) Composition (although this is more for a SCENE rather than an object)

So that means you NEED an HDRi (or BLACK world setting), a lighting system (start with 3 point, it's easy and looks great), good materials as the default materials suck dick (Cynicatpro's got some great looking free custom materials, you get get them for free from his site or you can download them off blendswap).

You NEED a proper lighting setup: Light creates shadow, shadow creates visual interest, and reflective / metallic materials need light or else they'll look like GARBAGE.

Render settings are a bit trickier but not nearly as important as you're thinking; proper settings here let you use fewer samples and let the samples calculate faster and with less noise, but if the scene (lights and materials) are shit, no render setting tweaks are going to make a difference.

Compositing is its own art form, a shit render (i.e. too dark, too drab, whatever) CAN be fixed here with color correction, with painting over, with different film emulation settings, and so on, but again if there's nothing for the Compositor to work with because you didn't set up any lights and shit, then it can't do miracles (besides the miraculous shit like creating fog where there was none by overlaying a fog image onto your render, or creating glare, or gently blurring certain surfaces to get rid of noise).

TL;DR: You need to do some of the longer tutorials on cgpersia for Blender and you need to read the articles on Lighting on CGShrimp.
Gleb Alexandrov is a blender god (but he sucks as a teacher, so don't get upset if at first you don't understand what's going on).
you dont know jack shit cousin. Stop writing these blog posts, this isn't reddit
Step One: ditch Cycles
Step Two: choose something like pov-ray, blenderman, stuff like that. Cycles is just shit.

Step Three: Enjoy your awesome new renders.
I use blenderman myself, it's pretty good.
What's the use of shit posting on one of the slowest boards on 4chan?

If you don't know how to use those renderers, your renders are still going to look like shit.
Fix jaggies with anti-aliasing.

Are those meant to be reflective coins? If so, you'll to create surroundings to reflect, and set the material to reflective.

Mostly you need good lighting setup and materials.

Just use Cycles or the Blender Internal rendering engine for now and look up some basic tutorials.
Doesn't PRman for blender still crash all the time?
cycles is good
i can give OP material setup for the coin
>cycles is good
Though not as good as other, more developed ones. It is fast, yes. But only because it isn't as complex.
so what.. you can make good renders with it.
the main problem with cycles that is that if you want complex materials you have to experiment alot but if you know cycles well its not a problem
>you can make good renders with it.
I never said you couldn't.

>the main problem with cycles that is that if you want complex materials you have to experiment alot
Which takes a lot of time and still might not look as good unles you want to spend all that time to get it right. With other renderers like Lux you can create the same materials but with a lot less nodes to work with. Although Cycles does have a few more things that Lux doesn't like a dedicated hair shader and a dedicated SSS shader.

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