Blender 3: UV Mapping
What is UV mapping?
It is pretty much creating a map of where your texture will go on a 3D model.
Open up Blender, delete the cube and add a sphere
Go into Edit Mode, and deselect everything. Hit Shift-Alt and Right Click the "equator"
Next, hit Ctrl-E and select Mark Seam
Go into the UV Edit Mode
Select all with A then U to Unwrap
Next, download this picture. Open an image by hitting Alt-O, select the image.
After loading in the image, use G to grab the circles and S to scale (you can hit S then X Y or Z to scale on that specific axis). To select 1 circle, hover and press L.
When you are done it should look something like this:
Change into the Default Editing mode
Select the Render Type to shade Textures
Select the Materials tab in the Properties window.
Next, go to the Texture tab and create a new texture. Scroll down and select the Blue Marble image from the dropdown.
In the Mapping Section, select the UV you created
Go to modifiers, add a Subdivision Surface and set views to 2(I modified the camera position and light being used)
Press F12 to render and you have successfully rendered a textured 3D model
Further Readings and References
"Blender" - http://www.blender.org/
"Blender Guru" - http://www.blenderguru.com/