Thanks. I'm definitely having a blast! I was a little worried about spending so much money on a 3D app, especially since you have shown me all that Blender can do for free, and most of my other apps are free (wings, daz studio, etc). But I'm satisfied now that I made a decent choice. One reason I decided on 3dsmax is really because I have been debating on taking a class at a nearby college, and I found out a while back that 3dsmax is the software they teach on. So that's what really nudged me into buying it in the end. Now I don't have the money to take the class, but I'm saving up again. haha.
Oh, it's all about what clicks with you. I tried Max before Blender. I found its interface way too clunky. Lots of Max users feel that way about Blender. I think to a certain extent the studio apps are equivalent to each other with the main deciding factor being what app you're using when things finally click and begin to make sense. But after that stage, I think certain apps will appeal to certain people with certain goals and certain workflows. So far, Blender has suited me best in terms of how it works and how it's grown. I know others who have found C4D the most natural to work with. Tons of people prefer Max, and many prefer Maya. I even see a lot of people who prefer to model in Modo or Silo, so much so that they list it with Max for their works.
I can't say I'd pay Max's price for Blender, especially considering the way Autodesk keeps changing packaging and upgrade options (just to go by the discussions in forums), but I'm _really_ glad I don't have to. I didn't settle on Blender because it was free. I settled on it because I found it the easiest to learn to do what I wanted. I'd also tried Max, Maya (free student edition), Hexagon, Wings3D, Amorphium, and Animator3D by that point. I've since tried Zbrush and Sculptris as well. As wonderful as Zbrush and Sculptris are (I'm sure I'll use them in the future), nothing has clicked like Blender. Zbrush especially resists me. Awesome program, but _wow_ do I find its GUI and workflow arcane.
Oh I agree with you about Zbrush. I simply can't get my head around it's workflow at all. I can do basic sculpting with Sculptris, but moving on to the more advanced Zbrush just doesn't seem to be in my future. I was really happy that Max had a "zbrush-like" set of tools built in that could manipulate the mesh in a similar fashion to the basic zbrush tools, and I really don't have very much use for complex sculpting tools anyway at the moment. I credit anyone who can produce incredible results in Zbrush, because I can't. I know it's used in just bout every major studio now though for one reason or another (usually to add high levels of detail to models). No other app can do the kinds of detailing it can, as well as it can. But then again, try modeling mathematically accurate geometric shapes or surfaces with Zbrush. Not easily done I'm sure.