That person is from a project I was doing right when my old computer died so I'm not sure how long it took but it didn't take all that long, I was making other things at the same time sort of, basically working on making a base mesh to work from using ZSpheres and then branching off each bit of progress into different subtools, this is one of the early ones, hence it hasn't got hands yet.
I never use reference images, I dont know why but they are a distraction to me for some reason, but I think that I am an exception in this, most people find them useful. I learned to sculpt ears for example by sticking my finger in my own ear while sculpting with my wacom tablet in ZBrush and Sculptris.
The only advice I can give you is to learn everything you can and try to make things as fun as possible, if it gets boring you will enjoy it less. There is an old expression: "If you love your job you will never have to work a day in your life".
This is the base mesh I was making:
Cycles is kind of neat but it's way too slow and the node editor kills it, I don't have enough space on my monitor for that monstrosity. I have it set to do 500 samples and everything still looks like its been sandblasted.
I have a very simple question for you about Blender and I can't find anywhere else to ask: you know how you can divide up the workspace into lots of viewports? how do you GET RID OF THEM??????
Its making me crazy!
If I could make them AND get rid of them I could use the stupid node editor full screen and then switch back to the main view and look at what the bloody thing did....
Who makes these things anyway? They must have a monitor the size of the Alps.
I'm going to shove a mango, two or three bananas, a bunch of strawberries and a couple of oranges into Blender with a couple of quarts of rum and see what that does to it.
EDIT: Nevermind, I found out you don't close them, you have to merge them with other windows or whatever they are and that they have to be the same size in order to do this.....
ANOTHER EDIT: I found out about Control and arrow keys, this is VERY helpful!