I know if you want to introduce new models, you have to do that outside of the Creation Kit. I know the best, but most expensive modeling program is 3DSmax, but I'm not about to spend $3500 for some software. I just spent $1500 on my PC rig as it is. ;)
How is Blender and other free programs? --- "The car in my battery died??? wtf" - Richie259 farmer guessing game points: 12
Personally I like Maya. If you're not bother by "five finger discount" copies, they aren't hard to come by. for the caliber of modeling and texturing you would need for skyrim I would NOT recommend Blender. ZBrush or Mudbox in conjunction with Maya or Max are your best options.
If you don't know which program to use to make 3D models, you probably won't make any models even if you got the program. Creating mods with new, original items require models, textures, scripts, and a whole bunch of different things requiring a whole bunch of different programs.
Blender is free (last I checked) so if cost is your only concern (it really shouldn't be considering the question you're asking) then that's pretty much your only choice.
I realize there are other programs you need, but my question is mainly about the 3d modelling program.
I know students get maya and 3dsmax for a heavily reduced or free price, but I haven't been in college for a few years now and I believe they deactivated my school account when I graduated. --- "The car in my battery died??? wtf" - Richie259 farmer guessing game points: 12
If you want free, go with Blender + GIMP. All you really need is Blender, GIMP, niftools, and the CK. And I don't buy what BeerFTW said: you're using Blender to create the mesh, Skyrim does the rendering, and GIMP is fully capable of producing hi res textures. If I'm not mistaken most, if not all, meshes added by modders were created in Blender and exported with niftools.