I am a programmer with a strong interest for 3D graphics. I have been made raytracing/path tracing/photon mapping renderers in the past. I am also about to start programming my second experimental distributed renderer. But I would like to learn character modeling to express my artistic side a little more. I have always wanted to model *good looking* female characters, as a matter of fact. I want to do everything myself, as much as possible. That is, the model, the texturing, and possibly the animations.
I have been in contact with alot of people that use 3D Studio Max, and it appears to me that this is the most used tool, or certainly one of the most popular, at least as far as the game industry is concerned. Hence, I would be interested in familiarizing myself with that tool. My first question is: Are any tools other than 3D Studio Max and Photoshop that are really needed to create character models?
My second question is, do you people have book suggestions? On the CGTalk frontpage, they are announcing this book called "D'Artiste", which I figure has not yet come out, but does that really teach you how to model characters, or is it more of a way to sell you renders of very good models from talented artists. And what about 3D Studio Max, is that quite hard to learn, and should I be looking for specialized books?
Are there any character modelers willing to share some of their learning experiences?