First, I am not an artist nor do I play one on TV (pop culture reference). However, I am married to an artist, so--
Although you seem most interested in figurative art, I think that is the hardest to master in any medium. Might be worth stepping back to landscape, still-life, and/or architectural to develop techniques for digital. Work on expanding your palette and blending colors to develop more depth. Definitely explore layers (for depth, but also as a way of testing concepts). The great thing about layers is that you can do some work, merge the result temporarily and decide that it isn't what you wanted- no problem. Save lots of stages so you don't have to repair too much if something isn't working.
Also, see if you can find Digital Character Design and Painting: The Photoshop CS Edition by Don Seegmiller. That is a very good resource for how to create fantasy/game characters using Photoshop. Another possibility (more general reference) is The Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book: Creative Techniques in Digital Painting by Cher Threinen-Pendarvis. Books are teh expensive, so you might want to browse at a bookstore and pick something that matches the results you want.
Bottom line- with your traditional art background, you are actually ahead of the curve. Get the tools (software, brush plug-ins, etc.) to achieve your goals and the only limit will be your imagination.
ETA- A way to make the particular picture easier would be to use a photograph of an appropriate subject as a baseline. Get someone to photograph you or someone else on a couch/chair, etc. and then begin to modify the image to get the effect you want
This post has been edited by treydog: Aug 22 2006, 05:48 PM
The dreams down here aren't broken, nah, they're walkin' with a limp...
The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.