Great goals to have!
I started on the old site in June, and progressed in leaps and bounds through following the ‘Begin here Step by Step’ series of tutorials. I had previous drawing experience, but have to say the guidance Matt gives is really very good and helped me no end! He is currently revising this whole Step by step section. My advice would be to do the steps on the old site for now and take the new revised steps as the come. Be sure to upload on the critique forum as you’ll learn a lot!