Saying right at the first line. I'm a total newfag in 3DCG. In fact that is not even my favorite kind of draw/creating tool. You see, I work more (and better) in 2D. Pencil, watercolor, ink, etc.
Problem is that is getting more and more difficult to get a job "only" knowing such things. People are demanding you to know such things in computers...because ink is too scary, I guess.
Doing final art in Illustrator was easy enough, and very instinctive for anyone who tried to play with (real) brushes on their lives.
But they demand more. So here I am, trying to do simple, but efficient things on 3D in order to impress when people ask me if ever did a thing or two on those programs.
The stick post is very useful and have some nice links. But here is the question; is Maya 3D MAX really necessary, or can I do nice images/models without those?
I'm asking this because almost all tutorials I found end up in "Now use Maya/3D Max" part. Those are the ADOBE of 3D world, a pain in the ass but unavoidable?
Are really that great or it can have a substitute? They not only are HUGE, but a load of other programs (including a spy one) comes together in the process. Does not help both are not free, and the so called "free version" ask about my University, name city, etc..
Putting those huge beasts only for a month does not sound like a smart idea.
Also they ask for "login" in their site before using their program. That is awful.
Just do Zbrush, in your case you're doing just doing static illustrations that don't go any further into production than that.
The learning curve will be steep, but not as bad as other, more flexible, programs that allow for animated/production meshes.
You will have to pay or think smart.
Oh and 3dsmax and Maya style software are ESSENTIAL in production pipelines where you need to actually create something with the meshes.
>is Maya 3D MAX really necessary, or can I do nice images/models without those?
You can do nice images and models with any of the major 3D programs.
>Those are the ADOBE of 3D world, a pain in the ass but unavoidable?
You don't need Photoshop for illustration. Krita's a good alternative. Inkscape and GIMP can do the majority of vector image and photo editing tasks, but I can see why illustrator and photoshop might be necessary for some situations.
They're not necessary, but the alternatives to them that do similar things are not any simpler for the user.
It's no harder to use max than it is to use blender like it's no harder to use photoshop than gimp.
But as you progress into becoming an advanced user, or simply looking for a job, you might become intereseted in having features only really availible to you in the industry leading suites.
If you then trained yourself using another software you'll experience frustration having to relearn how to do things you already mastered in the free suite.
This is why it's basically always better to pirate the real thing than becomming a proficient user of free alternatives.