I have seen many friends spend so much time creating perfect models that they never get around to texturing or animating the model, and end up with a portfolio full of models but no finished projects. Will the backside of the model ever be seen? Will the model or camera be moving when it is in the shot? How well lit is it? What kind of modeling can I do with textures? Ask yourself all of these questions before you start modeling. There is really no reason to create model parts if they are not going to be seen.
And, there is no use spending hours on details if they flash through the shot with high-motion blur in less than one second. Once all the planning and strategizing is done, it is time to actually touch the computer. The first step in the computer phase of 3D is to model. If planned effectively, modeling can be a fun process of sculpting, lathing, and creating that really cannot be done the same way in any other media. Sometimes, you may find that your software or your modeling skills are not quite up to the task of realizing the original design.
Thus, the “return to step X” cycle begins. Redesign a bit, and then remodel. Once the model’s geometry is created, the applying textures process begins. Sometimes texturing involves using stock textures (although keep “canned” textures to a minimum), while other times applying textures involves creating your own through photographs or other images you may have. And still other times, creating textures is done by drawing your own textures in another image creation program (e.g., Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.). Once the textures are created, the focus shifts to mapping those textures to the geometry of the model.
Sometimes during this process, you will find that the texture needs altering, or that the texture does not cover up flaws in the modeling that you thought it would, so some backtracking is needed. When applying textures, do many interim renderings to see how the textures are falling across the surface of the model. Then model, texture, render, retexture, rerender, sometimes remodel, rerender, retexture, rerender-you get the idea. When you render at this stage, be sure to use faster rendering algorithms; this is only a preview, after all. After applying the textures to the model, dive into the lighting of the project.