I still think the image in the original post is of much higher quality than the ones posted here done with 2D drawing applications or automatically generated from data. That's why I mentioned a 3D modeling program.
Very true. But a 3D modeling app represents a bigger investment in resources and knowledge in order to get that more realistic output. So to me, it all comes down to what constitutes "acceptable" results.
Most people can handle 2D and get very realistic effects. From what I've seen, modeling programs constitute a much larger challenge since it's harder to think in 3D, which requires some education and practice. Just like drawing. Almost anybody can do a 2D cartoon sketch. Far fewer ever develop the skills needed to do what would beconsidered a 'good drawing.'
I think most of the replies to the question were attempting to demonstrate that it's not difficult to do a graphic similar to the example. The person who asked the question seemed to give the impression that he thought it would be a much harder task than it is. So most of the suggestions were intended to "empower" him to give it a try.
All of which didn't exactly answer his question...while your post did, since a modelling program would generate better results. I don't think anybody here meant to make it seem like they were ignoring your point. You are 100% correct.
But since when has directly answering any question been the DC way?