Nice start and welcome to the guild!! *bonk*
I believe that the dude you wish to thank is RobA and yes, many many thanks should go out to him. I too am a noob and like you am in the process of following his tut. As a fellow noob, I would suggest that you browse through some of the older stuff as this place is a gold mine of graphic info in general but the real vein is in map techniques. And you need to dig for some of it.
As for Inkscape (which I am also a noob at) I have found that is is quite good as a sketch prog, or as a tool to trace out an outline that might be catching your fancy. Much better at that than Gimp, as far as line work goes at least. I haven't tried using it for anything else yet.