Alright everybody, here goes:
I haven't posted anything this potentially long in a while. The topic of this soon-to-be-long post is about Lego, particularly, the software that I use to design my virtual models....
I've been asked this question many a time and always reply politely as to what, where, and how - though, being asked a little too frequently has become some kind of a hassle, in regards to the fact that people over the internet have lost the faculty to properly read (in the entirety) the contents of posts, including tags (as to a clue to what might be going on...) and make use of our ever well induced natural curiosity factor to do a little research on their own.
Granted, not everyone knows about the LDraw community. I myself was thunderstruck in early 2000 when I stumbled on it. We're 2014 people! We've come a long way and +Google's search engine is aeons from what it used to be (search:virtual+lego+models anyone?!).
Anyway, the LDraw parts database is what I use, and I try to update it regularly, as individually needed parts get clearance for final inclusion to the next update, which lends me a great hand in being able to integrate +LEGO's latest and greatest parts in my models.
As far as the actual editing goes, I've grown much accustomed to the use of Michael Lachmann's MLCAD software. It has quite the steep learning curve but is utterly powerful once you master it. That being said, there are many great other alternatives available for a spin, according to the OS you are runningon. MLCAD on Wine sets itself up and runs flawlessly on most Linux based distributions. Hell, it's even the only piece of Windows software I still run on my Linux system!
Here's a bonus for you all: a great deal of hype is yet to unveil when +Joon-Kyu Park will finally get to release his own linux-native and multi-platform QT-based editor: Konstruktor. I've spent some time with him in the past to help in debugging the alpha and beta versions, and helping with the introduction of some much needed usability standards, including his testing the rendering engine with the use of some of my complex Gundam models ^_^. Very powerful stuff, I swear. ETA? No clue...
Come the renders, I only use the best and greatest: Travis Cobbs's LDView! It's a real-time OpenGL ldraw model rendering application the permits advanced visualisation of the chosen model, instant refresh on edit, wireframes, variable lighting setups, common 3D format exports and much, much more. It also has a CLI counterpart (for all the geeks out there) for which I've written a small script that automates all the snapshots you can see on my blog. It is readily available for download and is supported on all standard OS platforms.
Well then, I really hope this sums it up for all of you - and please, do take the sacasm with a little grain of salt. Though, I really do expect you all to forward the curious to this article, helping them to get started if need be.
Thanks for reading!