I know I talk a lot about LuxRender in my blogs, and it has been traditionally associated with the Blender 3D creation program. I love LuxRender, but it takes a long time to give you its great images. You can also create great looking models and images with only the native tools available in Blender, and they render much more quickly.
Here’s an image of a Blender model I created from scratch following a tutorial at Firechild Video.
It’s a model of the Blender logo, and the tutorial covers two basic things. First, how to take a 2D item (a flat, straight-on picture of the logo) outline it with curve tools, and extrude it into a 3D shape. Second, how to create the great gold and blue color and finish on the resulting 3D object (which has basically a gray clayish surface when first created), and then light and render it to get this effect. The folks at Firechild have this, and a lot more! Check them out.