think I somewhat understand, that if I want to go 3D, I should learn some 3D modeling package really well and that would be it. Please correct me if I am wrong.
I'll correct you, since you are wrong. Let's assume you want to become a writer, a good one. Do you just need to learn to read and write and type fast on keyboard and that would be it? Of course not.
If you want to become an artist SERIOUSLY consider going through real, traditional art lessons. Drawing, figure drawing especially, doodle in your notebook, give yourself tasks etc. Constantly draw and paint whatever you want to make. Parallel to that you can teach yourself some poly modeling program along with detailing program - a combo of maya+zbrush or maya+mudbox or 3dsmax+mudbox or modo+zbrush or whatever.
You see, you need only a few weeks at most to learn any of these programs sufficiently to know pretty much everything you need to know. What then? You are an artist all of a sudden? Just like by learning Word you are a writer? You, hopefully, understand what I'm talking about.
I'd suggest a plan:
- pick up a program or two and stick with it. I suggest Maya or Max along with Mudbox or Zbrush. You can't go wrong with either. You can do magic with any of them. See which you like more and stick to it.
- Look at gnomon or digital tutorials or 3dbuzz VMTs (good intro to maya they have) programs and go through basics of program. Doodle with it, play with it. Sing a long with those tutorials
- Next step is give yourself a task and go from start to finish with it. 'I wan't to make a car' and make it. Try to go after original, your own designs (this is more appreciated). Avoid knitting models over blueprints and sketches that are not your own. Unless you want to be a drone later on.
- Specialize in something. Maybe you like robots, maybe you like animals... draw them, design them, make them alive - models, textures, lights. Maybe you like designing environments, make them.
- Work work and work. You WILL suck hard at it first, but you will get better. Ask for criticism around and take it in and work on it more to make it better. Never get criticism as personal insults or any of that, it's not.
- Take a drawing class and life drawing lessons.