As far as I’m concerned the top artists tools that I have access to are Modo, ZBrush, and Blender.
The only reason that I use Blender is that it has pretty good import and export scripts to Ogre. I’ve seen faces, normals, UVs, and bones export perfectly out of Blender. That said I can’t really model in Blender. The interface doesn’t like me. And I haven’t found very many video tutorials on Blender to describe all the things you can do with it.
That said, ZBrush3 is coming out May 15th. I expect it’s going to be cool. However Pixologic probably won’t provide many details on their SDK, so I don’t expect an importer / exporter soon. They have awesome artists post video tutorials and they have a decent community. ZB2 only shows one viewport at a time, I don’t like that.
And then there’s Modo. Probably not as well known as XSI. The Modo interface is plenty easy to pick up. Luxology has over 3GB of video tutorials on every aspect of the modeling tool and they give out the tutorials for free. Modo supports as many viewports as you want to add to your layouts.
I prefer viewing models in Modo, detailing in ZBrush, and exporting with Blender (only because I have to).
Anyway, I wanted to enhance my pipeline by importing/exporting to Ogre directly from Modo. I now have an import script that runs inside Modo that can handle verteces and faces. I plan to convert it to an exporter. You can follow my progress in this thread.