Your first thing I want you to work in is related to craftsmanship. It would take two minutes to clean up all the edges around your image so its not so messy. That would help in comparing the images. However that same issue will bleed over into the painting process if you resolve it...it has to do with just taking that extra second or two to really be deliberate and careful when you are painting. You are working hard, and if you just give that extra little bit in all that you do you will see fast improvement.
i was very clear in the instructions to make sure that you first make your format the exact same size as that of the image. If yours is taller or shorter or wider then it won't work as the entire piece will be off when if you just took that extra few seconds to draw the format out in the exact shape the rest of the process would go so much more easily...and the results would be of immediate improvement.