Like Blender, LuxRender is free open source software constantly being improved by a large corps of dedicated programmers.
LuxRender is programmed to analyze the 3D scene presented to it, and compute the action of the virtual rays of light implied by the digital objects and light sources in that scene, and how they finally converge on the scene’s virtual camera. While this can take some time, the results are absolutely amazing. In addition to the scenes in my gallery, check out this gallery at the LuxRender site.
Users who take the time to really dig into the software can customize the lights and materials involved. For example, see this post at Pose2Lux explaining how I created a yellow car paint for one of my scenes.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty of LuxRender, check out their wiki.
I intend to list free and low-cost training resources for each software package. This will come eventually, but if I wait until everything is complete, I’ll never go live with this blog.
In the meantime, please include your favorite training resources in your comments.