Late to the game here, but I thought I'd chime in with the tools of my hobby trade.
This is how I roll:
Blender-- I use this to construct the components for my ships. I have not learned how to texture in Blender yet. I build the ship completely in Blender, but I export the separate components for assembly in other programs I will speak of later. Blender, for me, was very easy to grasp on a basic level, thanks to a quick, 20 minute, basic interface tutorial by Karan Shah. I downloaded and kept that tutorial available for my first couple of go's at Blender, and within 5 days, built my first model....the classic battlestar, Galactica. (I've since improved on the model.) Program cost-- FREEEEEEEEE!!!!!!
Thanks to some online tutorials, and to some books I've bought, my understanding of this increasingly powerful program is growing, slowly, but surely.
Now, like I said, I hadn't learned how to texture in Blender yet. (I haven't even learned how to do unwraps). What I do is use a program called 3DEXCHANGE 5.4 PRO, from a company called "Reallusion". With this program, I can convert the .obj files into a format that is usable in another program, also made by Reallusion. 3DEXCHANGE is also great for creating persona animations (animation collections) for characters, as well. Program cost-- around $250 I think.
Adobe PhotoShop. I have an old version of PhotoShop that I use to match the textures up to UV images from the models I assemble in the program listed below. Program cost-- A friend of mine gave me this copy, and I have guarded it like a watchdog ever since.) I wish I could afford the current version of PhotoShop which actually allows you to paint directly
onto a 3D object. I've been thinking about subscribing to the Adobe Creative Cloud which would give me access to the current versions of PhotoShop and AfterEffects.
That program is called iClone. I have the current version (5.5. PRO), but have been using iClone since version 4. iClone is not a modeling program. It is an animation program, but everything is already rendered, so exports of images and videos are very quick compared to higher end animation and modeling programs. This is the program I use to do final assembly and texturing (in conjunction with PhotoShop), and animation of my ships and sets. If I built the components large enough in Blender, by the time I bring the converted components over, they will simply fall into proper place when I drag the component to the center of the grid. Now, when I do texturing for my ships, it is a ping pong process between iClone and PhotoShop. (Program cost for iClone 5.5. PRO, I think it's around $299....but there are free versions you can try out.) iClone 5.5 PRO will also render in "toon" mode....which is not exactly cel-shading, but with the right tweaks, you can get some very cartoony looking imagery if that is your style. It can also do stereoscopic images in Anaglyph (red/cyan), Side by Side, Above/Below, and DualStream modes with adjustable convergence. There is a beta test version of a 64 bit version of iClone 5.5. PRO that I have found invaluable. Yes, it still crashes on me from time to time due to the detail of my work, and my imagination, but still, if it were not for iClone, I doubt I would've gotten even this far into venturing into 3D modeling/animation. iClone is pretty easy to use.'
Ever since utilizing all this stuff, I have built tons of models from Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica (mostly classic, but am planning on doing some new Galactica stuff soon), and even did a ship of my own design which I need to retexture a bit.