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Why the fuck are my renders never as good as the pros? No matter how seemingly detailed the textures/maps are it will 100% of the time look like fucking shit and fake.

Mine always turn into a slightly shittier version of pic related. What's the difference between me and this guy? >http://www.sbrusse.com
Pic related an example of Stan Brusse's work.

Is it just a matter of lighting and expensive textures? Software? Better hardware?

Or just pure skill? Skill in what aspect?
its all in the caustics and seashorses
>a slightly shittier version of pic related
Post an example of that, otherwise there isn't much on which to talk.
Nigga did you seriously ask for a feedback without posting your work?
Not op, maybe hes asking for just general knowledge. like things to look out for. Like maybe he's using Blender render.
He asked for a difference between him and some other guy. How could we know? He provided 0 information.
Sorry, im just asking for a direction for me to do more research on, if needed.

how does one get to stan brusse's level? Why is his work so much more photorealistic than most of the youtube learning channels out there?
>and seahorses

This, this is the actual secret
Unless you post an example of your work there is nothing we can really go on. Oftentimes some of the best works sinply comes down to having a computer with good enough specs that it can render scenes/characters God tier without crashing.
"sorry, I'm just asking for a direction for me to be successful at life"

We know nothing about you.
We haven't seen any of your work.
As far as I know you could be a literal Indian repeating phrases in a Markovian manner with no real intelligence behind it.

How you expect any useful answers without any useful questions or any useful information is beyond me.

Garbage In, Garbage Out.
It's all in the lighting. Again and again and again. The lighting. If you have decent textures you don't need to care about them, but you need realistic lighting for realistic rendering. Lighting is the crux of any 3d comp.

Look at that pic. The lighting is oversaturated. There's too much light. Worse it comes from everywhere. It looks plastic and fake, because the lighting is retarded.

In that pic the lighting is decent. Decent usage of emissive shader, clear line of sight from where the lights are coming. Could be better, but serviceable.

If you use Blender there's some options you can change to make the lighting more realistic. Disable the restricted dynamic range, it will make it better. But really it's all in the lights.
Do you do render layers and compositing. Use PBR materials.

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