For the past few years I have had the pleasure of working in 3ds Max creating 3D models for use in nGRAIN Producer Pro. The models were created from reference materials gathered on location for various clients around the United States.
References used for modeling included 360 degree photos, videos, and technical manuals.
The Honda 225 outboard engine model contains over 350 unique parts. This model was created by a team of modelers and then final assembly accomplished by the lead artist, yours truly.
Realistic textures were used sparingly since the end models were to be converted and then used in a voxel based application. Most materials were solid colors to save time during development; although photo realistic textures were completely possible.
Polygon count was kept to a minimum by only including enough quads and triangles to achieve the desired detail level. Since the models were being converted in Okino PolyTrans, the models had to have clean geometry. Models were monitored for overlapping faces, isolated vertices, and open edges.