Halfway into 2022, I began to pursue 3D animation and modeling again after leaving it untouched since I graduated in high school in 2019. I've had an interest in character modeling and design for a long time, and decided that with any free time I could get, I would try to dedicate it to learning some artistic skills.
To start, I decided to take a simple design of mine that I used for various online personalities and turn them into a low-poly 3D model. It's crummy, but hopefully you can get a gist of the progression I had gone through in such a short span. I would move on to trying higher poly work, then trying to find a nice middle-ground in polycount and performance. I'd find that if I really wanted to optimize a model, I could squeak by with 2-3k tris (600 if I was going for low-poly aesthetic), and if I wanted a clean model for a major character or element seen from fairly up close, I could settle with 11-21k tris.
As my skills developed, I ended up leaning towards a more cartoony art style. However, I am currently working on trying out more realistic styles now that I have a better understanding of some of the techniques and tools involved in creating highly detailed models.
I would eventually gain an interest in compiling pictures of people's faces to manually 'scan' them in. I'm currently not the most proficient in modeling realistic humans, so it looks a little uncanny (the hair and coloration of the skin is definitely incorrect) but I feel like I've learned quite a fair bit.
I would also take up practice work in modeling characters designed by friends.