Yeah joining a gfx site as a noobie is very frustrating. These were comments of my REALLY early work, your signature included. Though the page was obviously edited a while ago, what it was before what it was now was pretty bad.
Also, I just saw your forum thread. If you do indeed sign up to graphics Ninja, be prepared. A lot of the active members are very stuck in their own styles, & will quite often give harsh C&C if you're not doing work that they'd like to see. A lot of them are also unable to grasp that there are different levels of artists on their site (newbie, intermediate, expert). So... you have been warned! lol :P
Yeah... I use Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5 (Photoshop)). As far as how I make my tags go's... Well it complicated to try & explain lol. I use a lot of smudging techniques, clipping masks, lighting, & adjustments of depth. I'd recommend you check out Deviant Art, & search some tutorials on there... they'll be able to explain it much better than I ever could lol. I'd also recommend you sign up to a good gfx forum. www,pimped-pixels.net is a very good site... You'll get good feedback & advice... plus none of the members have huge ego's