Yes, I would recommend purchasing Artisan. My only complaint is there does not seem to be much documentation to go along with it, aside from some YouTube video tuts… I’m not too crazy about them since sometimes it is hard to see what exactly is being clicked on… but for $40 I can hardly complain. The videos will get you pointed in the right direction though and the rest is trial and error. I already used Artisan to make some seats for a hovercar I made and a couple of other things too, but I really should work with it more.
Check out this list of plugins: http://forums.sketchucation.com/viewtopic.php?f=323&t=28782
I recommend picking up practically everything by Fredo6, especially TruPaint, Joint Push-Pull, Tools on surface and Curviloft.
thomthom- Quadface tools, shell,TT Lib (newest version),UV toolkit and Material replacer.
TIG- All the “extrude by” tools, Pipe along path and OBJ exporter 2.6…(works great on models where smoothing is not so important and models that you wish to preserve the textures original name in when exported… thus DarkSteel stays DarkSteel in Poser’s or DAZ’s Material room as opposed to ID228 or some other odd designation).
Whaat- SketchUV (not free-$15)
tak2hata- Make Fur.
There are tons more, but those are some of the “Must haves”.
Blender is incredibly versatile and very powerful… but not very intuitive. I have made some stuff using it, but for what it was worth, once I learned how to do it, I could still make the same thing in SketchUp in 1/4 the time. But everyone is different… For me the intuitive nature of SketchUp’s modeling methods is not just the greatest thing, but the method of view/camera movement is extremely easy and intuitive as well… being able to easily move around what you are working on makes modeling so much quicker easier… which is one thing that I find a bummer in Blender… too keyboard intensive.
Using both Tools On Surface and Joint Push-Pull ( by Fredo6 ), you could draw a shape on the curved surface and then push-pull it out or in… it takes a little practice to get precision, but its not hard.
Two other tips if you are not already aware.
Deleting is not Deleted… when you are modeling, remember to often use “Purge Unused” (Window > Model info > Statistics > “Purge unused” button.)... this will remove any unused component and group data from parts you may have have deleted. This becomes more important when you use image based textures and groups and components (for example if you make a universal part like a door, window or column which you end up importing into other SU models, that part is considered a component… if you delete it from that model, SU still holds on to some of the data (probably for instancing)... doing this a few times can unnecessarily bloat a file. I once made an ornate railing that was 57 MB, when I remembered to “Purge unused” it became 6 MB… (thats an extreme example).
Don’t be afraid to break the model down into smaller sections and reassemble it in poser… as long as you make sure you model at world center (the dotted green line is the direction the camera faces in Poser,by the way) and all of the subsections you make are aligned to their proper coordinates, everything should show up and line up just fine in Poser (or DS). Breaking up the model into sub sections can help overcome issues found with models with heavier geometry.
Lastly… you are making great looking stuff! You have very good model making skills.
BTW- Sorry if I repeated anything you already know… I just like sharing whatever knowledge I’ve picked up, and whatever I’ve found that might save others time and effort searching for.