From 1993 to 2004, my favourite 3D tool was Persistence of Vision (POV-Ray for short), a free 3D renderer that generates high quality computer graphics. The POV-Ray images are hand-coded in the programming language specific to it. Most objects are created through a modeling technique called Constructive Solid Geometry, that consists in combining, substracting or intersecting simple shapes like spheres, cylinders or boxes. Other objects are modelled with specific tools, and other ones are found in the Internet. As a rule, the pictures are not digitally altered after the initial rendering, though in some cases the contrast and colour saturation have been enhanced.
Big thanks go to the POV-team and to its present co-ordinator Chris Cason, and to the previous one Chris Young for developing this extraordinary tool.
To use POV-Ray, you need to learn a rather simple (at first) programming language that describes all the elements that will be present in your scene : objects, textures, light sources... You can download scripts examples in the Resources page. The resulting text file, like a music score, is then executed by POV-Ray and rendered into a picture. POV-Ray is a very powerful and versatile tool, mainly aimed at amateurs, though it can also be used in professional situations, like scientific illustration or teaching. You can achieve a lot with POV-Ray. Keep in mind, however, that complex scenes and animations will require time and patience. In terms of sheer productivity, POV-Ray cannot compete with professional tools like 3D Studio Max, Lightwave, Maya or Softimage, but the "market" is different.
All POV-Ray versions from 1.0 (1993) to 3.6 (2004) were used to create these pictures. One specific POV-Ray feature is that some advanced users develop customised versions, or "patches", to add functionalities that do not exist in the official version. In fact, between 1997 and 2001 most of the images have been made with one patch or another : first the isosurface patch of Ryoichi Suzuki (between 1997 et 1998), then the Superpatch of Ron Parker (1998 and 1999), and Megapov by Nathan Kopp (1999-2001). In 2002-2004, I also used Mael's patch because of its HDRI support.
Since 2003, I've been using exclusively Cinema 4D, from Maxon, a professional 3D package for modeling, animation and rendering.
In 2006, I started using C4D in combination with FinalRender, a high-end rendering engine.
Most of the human and animal characters on this site were created with Poser, a programme dedicated to the posing of digital characters.
The models I use with Poser usually come from Digital Art Zone (DAZ)
Rhino : professional NURBS modeler (commercial). Though a complex piece of software, it has one of the most friendly, well-designed interface I've ever used. Many scenes in 2002-2004 feature objects made in Rhino.
Xfrog : professional modeling tool specialised in complex organic shapes such as plants. It is quite fun to use and the library of plants is huge. Most of the plants used in the images I created in 2002 and later are Xfrog models.
I'm currently using a Dell Inspiron 8200 1.7 Gz laptop running Windows XP with 1Gb of RAM.
I started using POV in 1993 on a 386 with 4 MB running MS-DOS 5. Those were the days?