I just posted a thread/topic about this not too long ago.
If you are wanting to create 3D models and Animate, get into Maya 2013. It's by Autodesk. They offer it for free, but it's limited unless you are a student.
You can also try ZBrush. That is a sculpting and painting program.
Mudbox helps too. Also an Autodesk product. (Goes hand-in-hand with Maya)
Then there is of course Photoshop. SC6 is the latest. Again not for free for full version unless you can find it from someone who is letting people copy it. But it's nice for making textures for putting on your models.