creating sprites from 3D objects
a very useful too has been posted on the independent gaming forum: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=4307.0
it is a well-documented blender file that allows you to create isometric views for a given 3d model. what it does is it rotates a camera around the object in the correct angle and distance and stuff, and takes snapshots. for x-com purposes, the snapshots are too large and too many, but you can easily choose the right ones out of there and batch-convert them using irfanview.