MoI as "the Visio of 3D?" Rendering advice please

 From:  Dan (CORNYSH)
I am increasingly using 3D images in place of 2D images for business presentations and the like. This has more visual pizazz than 2D and of course in some cases 3D is far easier to understand. For 2D I have used Visio for a decade with great results for even quite complex images. For 3D I have battled with TurboCAD sporadically over the years, but although the 2D features are superb I find the 3D module far too complex for a user like myself who may only use it once every month or two.

Accordingly I have been looking for something else. I have been playing with MoI 1.1 with a few days and two things really stand out: first, I really like the way Michael has started afresh with the interface and focused on reducing it to essentials. For me it is intuitive and a snap to learn. Second, I appreciate the way Michael gets involved in forum discussions and actively tries to improve the product: it gives me confidence in MoI's future.

The MoI models I want to create would be diverse, ranging from crude 3D block diagrams to small mechanical parts. All of this would be for illustrative rather than engineering purposes, so I don't need ultimate precision or photo-realistic rendering. Something I want to tackle this weekend is creating my own model of the molecular lattice in this image I found on the internet:

It seems to me that the lattice should be easy enough - create a cube and shell it, then remove the bulk of each face to create a cuboid cage, maybe fillet the struts of the cage, then add a sphere at each corner (though I've not quite worked out how to get really precise positioning in MoI). Then I could just copy the cube to form a three-dimensional array of cubes; I would probably need to mess around a little but it doesn't look too challenging.

BUT..... once I've made it, I need to render it!

This is the problem: where can I find software that is as easy to use for rendering as MoI is for modelling? My needs are simple - typically I need just a few colours and some ambient light - and TurboCAD is so complex that I have to spend hours messing around with it every time I open it. For use with MoI the least challenging combination I have seen suggested so far is Sketchup and Podium, with the minimalist interface of the latter looking very attractive. I will try this, but it would be nice if I could avoid the extra step learning how to use Sketchup as well.

Ideally I would like to export the model from MoI and move straight to the renderer. I am prepared to invest money in this although dropping $1,000 on something like KeyShot/HyperShot would perhaps be difficult to justify given the limited use it would probably get.

So if anybody has any suggestions for very easy-to-use rendering packages for MoI models, I would be very grateful.