I wanted to post yesterday, but work was crazy. With all these people joining its going to get hard to keep track of all the neat stuff going on!
Your blocks look good! I think there are a few little problems though. First the light reflected from the red block is too crisp. The surface of the block would act like a regular light source, so the light would reflect in all directions, and fall off in a in a radius around the reflecting face. So the edge of the red lit areas would be fuzzy. Also on the red block you've made the shadows more grey. I think they should just be a darker value of the same hue. The block is reflecting red light, grey is all colors equally, so the block would absorb all the other colors and just bounce red toward us.
The second block attempt is better, the hue shift in the shadow is appropriate (though purple+red should = fuscia?). The black block looks better too. The only odd bit is that the red block seems to be glowing a little? Like it is lit from inside? I think it's because the corners are dark on the lit side and lit on the dark side but...
Great job on the second sphere iteration, makes me want to do it again too. Your second go at the blocks is just outstanding, I think that scene is almost perfectly lit! You're right about the scary talent creeping in here, but your part of it
. I think I'm going to skip ahead to the latest project next, it seems to be more in my problem area currently.
Seems you have some really bad jpeg artifacts in you images, are your compression settings too high? I agree that your first color sphere is very desaturated, maybe it's your yellow highlight and purple shadow fighting eachother? If you put some more of the base color seperating the light and shadow you can probably increase your apparent saturation, and make your color identity stronger...
Okay, I've decided you guys were right about the darkness/contrast on my pipes. I think my lcd screen contributes to the problem a little, but I just need to correct my curves on a different monitor to get things right. I tried slapping one of them on a black bg to see if that fit the lighting better...
I promise new stuff on Monday.