I. Design in progress

Hi there; I. Design has caught my attention for quite a time now. I’m a mechanical engineer, but I’ve always found pleausure in ‘giving birth’ to a product from the first steps (the steps of an Industrial Designer), that’s why I decided to take 2 shorts courses on the matter. The fact is that right now, I cannot make a living on my designing talents and skills, but it’s a ‘hobby’ and interest I take seriously… that’s why I would appreciate if anyone in the business or just advanced amateur could give me some insights.

I use Solidworks and Modo 401 for Modelling and Rendering, you think it’s a good team? I really appreciate SW due to that it allows me to shape and design something that can be actually pondered for construction and physic measurement (quantity of material, weight, density, molding, etc.). Why are softwares such as Rhino, Alias, Maya, Modo, etc so appreciated among industrial designers? Do they serve as presentation tools only or they actually can be used for real prototyping?

I have some basic skills in Photoshop… I see many professional I.Designers use it quite often, together with Illustrator for packaging, presentations, etc. What level should I get in those? Are they actually indispensable skills in the I.D. world?

As I said, I intend to give a real try to ID in my free-time, basically oriented to those industry areas available near my hometown (which are few): Lightning, Furniture, Shoes Industry and Pottery.

I intend to improve my skills with a programmed agenda… since I didn’t study I.Design from the beginning, I appreciate your advice on the following:

Skill 1) Sketching, Ergonomy, Brainstorming: yeah, not great but there are some good books out there. Any suggestions?
Skill2) 2D Rendering: With Photoshop. Got a video on it by Scott Robertson.
Skill3) Model Making and prototyping: no idea about that.
skill4)3D Modelling: as I said, Solidworks and Modo.
skill5)3D Lightning+Environment: quite hard stuff; a designer can make a life on specializing on that only… not my favourite thing indeed, I preffer modelling but I suppose some basic skills on that would do no harm.
skill6)Engineering specifications: I know some of that as mechanical engineer. I’ve never applied it to Industrial Design, though.
skill7) Economic Considerations: I leave that one to economists… not really into it, but I guess a designer has to convince that his/hers it’s an actually profit-making project.
skill8) Product Construction: is the I.designer implied in that or he leaves it to I.D. engineers?
skill9) Product Marketing: More for Graphic Designers I guess… got some skills in Photoshop but not great. Is it a must for I.Designers?
skill10) Product Transport and re-assembly (if needed): I guess it must be 1st considered by the I.Designer in the first stages of his/her design.

Hey, thanks for your comments and suggestions. Maybe I’ll cover some of the above mentioned points before I get retired XD.