Need a How To sticky for custom ships and environments

I’ve been searching this board for about an hour and can’t find any information how to import new ship graphics and assign them names, factions, hardpoints, etc. Do I need specific programs to import a JPEG or a 3D mesh file.
I’m new to the board, not to mention the game itself, and haven’t a clue where to start or what I need and I really would like to try my hand at a few designs.

There is a lot in this thread about it already: