Anyhow this post kept turning into too much text so let's get right to it -- remember when I was humming and hawing about learning to draw? Welp, I guess I just needed ponies.
I sketched Twilight Sparkle:
and I was pretty pleased with how that turned out -- note: not bragging, I am still in the "wait, I can draw?" stage here -- so I made a copy, inked it with a brush pen, scanned that, and colored it in Photoshop:
But I was really not happy with the inking job I did. I think I rushed it and ended up making the lines all too heavy. I'm not really used to using a brush pen yet and I haven't learned to work at 200%+ of the "target" size.
Anyhow, I realized one of the things that made it so heavy was that the linework was all black ink. But I didn't have anything else to use. So I scanned in the original sketch, found some tutorials on doing paths in Photoshop, and several hours and a couple dozen layers and paths later, the end result:
Okay, I'm hooked now.