So i started a new project wich is a complete garden furnuture design. I want it as realistic as possible but i already ran into some problems when i wanted to test my wood. I use 3D max 9 and Mental ray. I have a little experience with mental ray. Just some basic, place a sun and a skylight turn on final gatherer and often you quickly get nice results.
So, i got this parasol with some detail beneath it. But when i render (using the above mentioned MR noob method :D) it gets realy dark right under it and my detail is gone. Cranking up the skylight won't work. And i can't seem to find some ambient light setting anywhere. So what am i missing? I know the scene itself needs to be improved but am i on the right track for getting a nice looking outdoor render? Any tips/hints on getting nice results?
I have seen some incredible renders from people, mostly using Vray and i barely see MR renders (or they don't mention it). But atm $700+ is way to expensive for me. Are there any other better render engines wich do not that much or even free ones that do a great job?