Models and props can be fabricated from a wide variety of materials.
Some projects are simply scratch built, painted and artworked, others require complex mouldmaking and reproduction into the required material for the intended purpose. There is a big difference between building a model for an advertising shoot and building one for a hands on museum environment.
Models and props can be built from visuals or designed and drawn in sketch-up or similar before the physical model is created. Sophisticated pieces are always built from full working drawings.