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Taina,

Ditto on Mieke's excellent answer. Blender is a general purpose 3D program. Zbrush is a 3D program specialized for highly detailed sculpting (and I also think it is the industry standard for that). Typically, the sculpting is done on top of a base mesh created in Blender, or Maya, or Cinema4D, or some other modeling program -- although there are many ways to go about it. If you are creating models only for still images, with no animation, then there may be no need to go outside of Zbrush. 
So really it depends on what you are going to be modeling. If they are organic sculptures with tons of realistic detail, as one might expect in a scientific illustration, then Zbrush is awesome. It's the closest thing to sculpting with real clay. You can't get the same amount of detail in other programs, usually -- Zbrush can handle millions of polygons worth of detail, which would crash most other programs.
I bought Zbrush at version 1 for $300, and they've never charged me for an upgrade! I don't know any other company that does that. Lynda.com ($25/month) is one place that has great tutorials to get you started on Zbrush (and pretty much anything else).

I haven't used Blender, but it seems to be well regarded, as well as free. They teach it here at the local university (UCSC). 

David Fierstein

On Aug 7, 2014, at 6:48 AM, Taina Litwak <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hi all -
> 
> I want to get started (finally) with doing some scientifically accurate 3D modeling of very tiny stuff.  I'd like to use Zbrush - based on what I  saw at the AMI meeting in Rochester.  First request to get it was turned down, and I am tasked with doing a justification to my agency (USDA) on why I need Zbrush vs Blender, which is free.    Does anyone in the profession use Blender?   Any pros and cons for me?
> 
> Help appreciated.
> 
> Taina
> 
> 
> -- 
> Taina Litwak
> Litwak Illustration Studio
> 13029 Chestnut Oak Drive
> Darnestown, MD  20878
> 
> tel: 301-527-0569
> mobile: 240-750-9245
> 
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