*I am still learning like everyone here, so I dont want to sound like the “authority” on photo real, but here’s is my 2c on the techniques i use in my own work:
For me it simply helps having an understanding of how things work in the real world. This can be a combination of visual analyses (eg staring a photo), and academic research(eg reading a paper how light works, and then working out how to apply it in 3d).
There is a big difference between realism(what we see with our eyes), and photo-realism(what a camera captures). I strive for photo-realism, it’s the imperfections you get that generally make an image interesting(cg chromatic abrasion, lens distortion, film grain).
Couple things that i think help sell photo-realism:
- Correct light temperatures(eg sun is blue, tungsten(common studio lights) are orange ect).
- Depth of field, especially those funky bokeh hi-lights.
- Motion-blur (so many people seem to still skip over this)
- Proper physical Light fall offs
- Shaders that obey the laws of physics (i love mental rays mia for this).
- Always use SSS for skin
- Use physically correct lights (eg area lights)
- A good GI solution
- Where possible, render out everything in float (32 bit)
- Lens distortion
- Chromatic aberration
- Lens flares (i like stirring up a bit of controversy)
- Film grain
- Agree with above, adding lights blooms/flare in post can help heaps.
… well thats a start at least!
edit: Read some further posts, and remembered some stuff:
> Black is never black, it’s always slightly off
> The blue channel is almost always the grainiest when adding grain