: perhaps, using Blender or a modeler+POV-Ray. I have two problems, though, 1)
: a poor-quality 640x480 monitor that visibly curves its vertical lines and
: probably does interesting things to the color of the image, and 2) not a lot
: of money--$200 dollars to spend, _maybe_.
My advice would be to try and get a relatively recent 15" monitor, with
controls. By going for a used 15", you've got a resonable chance of
finding one that's in resonable shape from someone who's moving up to a 17
or 19" model. Try to get a unit with good fine dot pitch, and make sure
you see and like the model you're using, at the resolution you'll use
(likely 1024x768 for 15") before you commit to buying it. We have 15"
Sony's at work, don't know the model number, that I like, but other
manufacturers also make good monitors. I don't think you can do graphics
work at lower res or smaller screen size effectively, even 15" is pushing
it, depending on what you want to do.
Make sure whatever video card you have can support 24 bit colour depths at
1024x768, and at resonable refresh rates. Some people say 16 bit is good
enough, but I find this not to be the case at all, and find the diffrence
You can do rendering at lower resolutions, and probably will, megapixel
images take a long time to render, but if you can find something like this
in your range (should be possible) you'll likely be satisfied with it.