Thanks Spengos. It's absolutely possible with a mouse, if you wish to dedicate months to a weapon So yeah definitely use a tablet. I use a Cintiq personally and I love it, but they're expensive and I wouldn't recommend buying one unless this is a full time thing AND after you've tried a regular tablet first. Yeah I poly model in Maya now after making the switch from 3DS Max a few months back when I started my new job, all the texture work is purely Photoshop and painting, no photo reference mixed in. These weapons have taught me a lot about colour so they were worthwhile, practice is the best thing I can advise. I looked at the work by the artists at Blizzard, tried to decipher it and replicate it in my own designs. I'll typically do a concept, take it into Maya as a reference plane and poly model it from there, I UV it in Maya to. Once UV'd I'll hack up my concept in Photoshop to fit the UV so I can get a rough idea of what it will look like in 3D space. From there I'll usually paint from scratch again, I sometimes maintain some of the values/colour from the concept if I like it.