This overview is specific to Blender 3D, although the principles can be applied to most other 3D applications. Some knowledge of Blender will be needed, as I don't cover any hot keys. I used the textures directly from the Total Textures V14 CD, without modifying them.
When I modeled the sword I used two images as templates, because I liked the handle style from one texture and the blade and hilt from another.
As the displacement mapping will add most of the detail at render, you can get better results with many small faces.
So I subdivided the handle mesh and increased the Sub-surf level to 3 iterations at render, Blender's equivalent to 3DSMax's meshsmooth.
After modelling the handle, I deleted verts until I had one quarter of the mesh left. After UV mapping I will duplicate and mirror the mesh, back to it's original shape and form. This is to make the UV mapping of the handle as easy as possible.
Blender's LSCM method of unwrapping, uses seams to split the mesh into sections. So I added four seams to the mesh to give three UV face sections.
UV Mapping the handle and blade
This method of UV mapping works best if you already have a image texture that you don't want to modify. I make the UV face layout match the image, instead of making the image fit the UV layout.
I unwrapped the handle mesh using the LSCM calculation and rearranged the face sections to fit the texture in the UV image/editor window.
With Blender's main screen split into two windows, I have one showing the UV image/editor and the other as a 3d viewport to check the texture placement was correct.
Once the handle was mapped correctly, I unwrapped the blade using the viewport to produce the UV co-ordinates.