So I’ve brought the little scene into Blender and redid the lighting and materials. I did some research on liquids, refractive materials, and subsurface scattering. Found some good resources and cool people, about whom I shall write later. For now, here’s the progress (Maya/MentalRay on the left, Blender/Cycles on the right):
For now, MentalRay is winning! But I think that might just be because I’m still more comfortable and more familiar with Hypershade than with Blender’s material nodes. However, I have noticed some limitations in Blender. See that nice half-transparent reddish-yellowish rim on the coffee, in the cup, on the left side? That was three simple, self-explanatory settings. Achieving the same effect in Blender, see.. I haven’t gotten there quite yet.
Blender has a pretty limited set of nodes to work with. Granted, you can do a lot with those nodes, but I still find myself wishing for more. Also, for more connections, as Blender’s nodes are limited in their in- and out- connections, whereas MentalRay nodes usually have a lot more to offer. However, Blender does make a couple of things easier. Its shaders are pretty “good to go” out of the box: the glass, glossy, SSS, volume absorption, and translucency are just a few of the really nice ones that require very little tweaking (as opposed to the catch-all mia_material). Also, mixing those materials is very easy, as well.
So I’ll keep working on both. The piece of biscotti still hasn’t been touched beyond simple colors and a basic normal map. And I’m hoping to tweak the lighting and do a little compositing in the end just for some extra appeal.