Hi there! I'm also quite ''new'' with digital drawing/painting but I think I've some good advice for you! 1. You need to train A LOT! 2. Try to find some artists that you like, which styles do they use? Have they made any tutorials? Videos? 3. Look at tutorials and videos on youtube ( I don't mean that you shall copy them, but look at their techniques ) 4. Just keep drawing even if it doesn't look exactly like you want to in the beginning! Just practice more then.
I did my first digital drawing in march 2012 (lineart on paper) it looked like this: A couple of months later I drew like this: For some months ago I drew like this: And NOW I've bought a tablet and draw like this:
I've been drawing/painting digitally in 8 months and have improved this much just by following the four steps above. If I can; you can! Good luck!
Definitely look into SAI for your art program. It is by far the best 'like RL' painting program I've found. Plus, you can try it free for 31 days. It is only about 60$ US and well worth it. Frankly, getting SAI has improved my digital art style 10 fold.
When you do get funds for some hardware upgrades to your drawing I strongly suggest making sure you stick to things using the Wacom tech. Yes it is more expensive, for a reason, it's the best.
Also, I've found that used tablet pcs are cheaper than the wacom tablets...especially if you go on ebay and check out pre-owned ones. I've managed to pick up a Toshiba m700 used in great condition for only ~300$ US. It lets me draw right on the screen. Sure it can't run games, but that's not what I bought it for. When you compare it to some to the higher feature wacom tablets prices (that you can't draw on the screen) it isn't a bad deal. The down side of this tactic is they are harder to find and it is hard to find out if a tablet is Wacom penabled. Trust me, don't get one that isn't Wacom penabled. Anyways, just keep the tablet pc's in mind when it does come time for a tablet.
Thanks for the reply, I'll definitely look into Wacom tablets as I have heard great things about them before. And, it's funny, I had no idea SAI even existed until today... But yeah, thanks again, I'll look into SAI and do some research on the Wacom tablets, and hopefully test SAI today.