I would like to learn myself,
I think it's a case of getting something a lot more straightforward than Blender, it's interface is the worst i've seen for a program, Photoshop is a lot easier to learn imo. 3DS max 2012 is great as if you want to draw a line, you can do so, if you want to create a sphere you can do so.
I would start with the front, as i signed up to a blender forum to ask stupid questions to get a basic idea of getting started. I don't like starting off basic i like to start with something difficult and then learn the hard way.
All the best with it but i think signing up to a design forum like the blender forum is better with questions like these, and posting your progression there then when you've got it near complete to go in the game post it up on this forum.