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I've been playing around with cycles, and got a nice glossy material, and it looks good when multiple objects lie next to each other on the ground. But when the objects are in the air, they look flat, so the shape is not distinct and they look thinner than they are, if comparing to the non-rendered part of the screen. They have no shadows beneath them, so they look kind of flat.

I fiddled with the light, and now my white nice background is grey and dull..

In a previous render (image 3), they looked much better, but I'm not sure what I changed. How can I make it look more like this again? Or will it only look like this when on the ground?

Simple glossy material setup.

enter image description here

Also looks different and flat on the ground.

enter image description here

This old render a while back looked much better. What did I mess up?

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    $\begingroup$ If the only things a glossy object has to reflect is an area light and the ambient sky, it will look very flat, albeit with a highlight. Being in close proximity to the ground provides two things: a reflection of the ground material, and a darkening of the ground material due to the shadow of the glossy object. So, yes, they will look better when they are near the ground or other objects. $\endgroup$ – Mike Metcalf Dec 21 '16 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ Ground should be diffuse mostly so as to preserve shadows. $\endgroup$ – JakeD Dec 21 '16 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ Flat objects is almost always Flat lighting...Dealing with glossy objects is all about dealing with what is reflected by the surfaces. Look online at images that deal with surfaces like the ones you are trying to do. Pay special attention at the background and where the light is coming from. Do a google search on "photographing highly reflective objects" there are plenty of light schemes to learn from $\endgroup$ – cegaton Dec 22 '16 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ This looks exactly as expected to me. As mentioned previously, the lighting is critical. $\endgroup$ – VRM Dec 22 '16 at 4:02

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