In particular I have conquered UV texturing mapping, and honestly can't see much in the way of improving it to shade my creatures. Not that I'm not saying there isn't room for fine tuning and tweaking. However as far as major improvements and innovations sadly I'm going to need new software for any more of those.
My current Paintshop square texture mapping does not allow me to directly paint on my models (nor are there any ways for me to do this in Paintshop Pro that I can find... anyone know differently?). Which means this is on the backburner until I'm relocated back in Canada and can start worrying about building up my infrastructure.
In this type of modelling think of any object as a tube like construct. I can instruct the computer at any point I choose along this tube to insert a new cross section, which you can see as black shapes through out that red object. By drawing different shapes in each cross section the computer must stretch the object between the cross sectional points to connect the the two different shapes.
This method of modelling has its advantages, which can be seen in ever piece I have ever constructed in 3D. Yet it has its limitations too. The biggest of which is changes to an object become hard outside of them being up and and down (again as the cross sections have to be mostly parallel to each other). This makes it hard to make localized details or angled indentations and protrusions. If I try to create these I typically have to simplify them due to the number of cross sections I'd have to create otherwise to get odd angled protrusions...
An easy solution to adding these details (as at moment I'm rather happy with Spline modelling for initial basic construction) is Vertex modelling. In this system an object becomes something like a mass of clay that can be manipulated (pushed and pulled) by a series of points generated on its surface. You see them here as dots connected by lines. Move any of these points and you effect the nature of those lines (which represent the objects surface) which allows you a great deal of control of details.
So far I've only tinkered a bit, and never properly learned any of the tools of specific controls.
I have produced one model with a slight degree of Vertex detailing as of last week. The new Traumador character Vicsurus the Daspletosaurus. I wanted her to look particularly battle worn, and so needed some scarring on her lips. This is where I got after an hour or so of playing. It is by no means anywhere close to where I want to be, but of course it is a start.
So expect plenty of updates and posts recording my adventures into the Vertex...