^^ The main body is actually the spaceship Friede
from Woman In The Moon
(1929) stretched out a bit in the nose and tapered a little. The resemblance to the shuttle orbiter's fuel tank is coincidental. And I don't think the recorder marker is really any more indicative of what the Valiant
should look like than a reel-to-reel tape player indicates what a 1950's or '60's era fighter jet should look like.
Easy to pick up? Backstory for why I'm asking. If you might recall, about a year ago, I was trying to get started in 3D in an old Win XP machine, where the program would run like molasses, and a decent resolution render would take hours!
Now, fast-forward to this past Christmas, and my lovely wife got me a new iMac. It's got 3D power to spare, and I'm thinking about getting into it seriously.
Especially after seeing how much creative luck you're having with SU.
Does Maxwell have any limitations, or weird quirks I should know about before trying?
I taught myself how to use SketchUp through trial-and-error and watching/reading some tutorials. Maxwell was a bit more involved to learn (I found), but again their online or pdf manuals can help you learn the tools. Another advantage is Maxwell works right within SketchUp---you don't have to export your model into another program to render it. The only quirk I've come across is that Maxwell can be a bit too high resolution in showing the facets that make up a curved surface. If you study the model in this thread (as well as models in my A Parade of Spaceships
thread) you can see what I mean. One way to minimize that is (where appropriate) make curved surfaces with as many facets as possible to make the surface look smoother. I try to do this with large curved surfaces. With small curved surfaces than I use fewer sides to the curve to get fewer facets. I haven't been able to make an appreciable difference within SketchUp by increasing the angle of smoothing. Maxwell also has some lighting abilities within it that I appreciate.
Truth is I'm still learning Maxwell and slowly learning how to get more out of it. I do suggest you go for the licensed version (cost me only $99) because you get more functions out of the program as well as larger resolution images than you do with the free version.
Regarding SketchUp many have advised me that the Pro version isn't necessary because there are so many plugins available for the free version that help give you a greater diversity of tools.