One thing all new guys should learn early: Don't focus on texturing, rendering and lighting, and all the things that seem appealing. Focus on making something wonderful, worth texturing, rendering and lighting. It's a tough pill to swallow because everybody loves to play around with renders, but believe me it just isn't worth it.
Try to look at some pics and REALLY try to closely follow it, challenge yourself to do something accurate. It'll produce something you're much prouder of in the end