that's a cool idea for the costume on the first char. i'm trying to work on costume design bleh
i forgot if i commented on your fanart painting but i would block in the whole bg and stuff before finishing the character.
and about copying photos, i would try and render out more of the parts that were contrasty...it looks too much like a photo if it has a lot of white in it. this is mostly a crit for the kill bill one (which looks absolutely great btw)...esp on the arm and maybe rendering out some darks in the nose a little bit more.
join a sketch group! update more! =P