depends what you want to model and what amount of $$$ is not too much
I'll talk only about the SW I know and use, there are many more but I can't talk from personal experience so ..
- exist for many decades, very good for mesh modeling, not a very big community, kinda dead, nice and easy learning curve
- Soft Image XSI
(before autodesk got them, no clue how good is now under autodesk) - very powerful for video, modeling is something between professional engineering tools and organic artistic tools, steeper learning curve then LightWave, super powerful plugins, some of the plugins cost more then my house ..
- all the artists I know use this one, for me it was too weird to use but my friends sculptors, painters etc.. that model figurines use it exclusively .. when I'm talking about sculptors and artists popular "artists" pack is "Maya, blender, Houdini, ZBrush, Mudbox"
.. I never used most of them so can't say nothing but it's a magic 5 most artists I know use
- very powerful mesh modeling tool, not parametric (AFAIK!!! I'm not a poweruser, not even advanced user, maybe noob+ with blender), super steep learning curve, I seen stuff ppl make with it in a very short time and it's a "wow".. since it's free and supposedly has very good support with all popular game engines like unity, unreal, source, might be best option for what you are looking for
) - extremely easy to use, natural, perfect, lovely... engineering tool, they for a while had (and tool PTC company purchased before CREO, I forgot the name) free version for non-commercial use but when that was gone I stopped using it as it was too expensive .. for designing machines (printed parts for machines too) it was imo best tool, for "character modeling" and other "organic" modeling, dunno, it was not made for that so you could probbly do it but I doubt it would be the best tool
I still use:
- SolidWorks + solidCAM
- I use it for decades so can't really say if it's easy to use or not but I really believe anyone can learn to use the general modeling stuff in few days .. it is engineering tool, not sure how would I even approach modeling a human face with it, it's also not cheap
- you say you are programmer, try it!!!
- web version of engineering tool made by one of the lead devs from solidworks, I used it very extensively as they had a decent free version and then stopped 'cause they changed a policy for free accounts so now I only maintain some projects I started there ...
- Fusion 360
- I recently started using Fusion, it's bit counter intuitive for solidworks/onshape/creo users but on the other hand very similar, it is parametric but also have a mesh editing too so should be easier for organic stuff (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRMzg2X_sX0
). There's also ton of plugins (some free some not) .. it is both free and commercial (I use free, no clue what the $$$ version gives you)
- free cad
- I don't recommend it