A while back I had a concept design class with Jerad and I ended up becoming a fan of his work (also learned quite a bit in the class as well).
Right now, I am in a creature development class which is taught by Alex Alvarez. The class lasts 10 weeks and we have a creature due every 2 weeks fully modeled, textured, shaded, rendered, etc and this is what I finished for the second creature.
I started with a basic poly-mesh in Maya and then exported the mesh to Zbrush. I also painted the textures in Zbrush and used Mental Ray in Maya for rendering. Fusion was used for compositing and Photoshop for some level adjustments.
[url=http://www.aryafx.com/final1d0001_HighRes.jpg]Click Here for the High Res[/url] / [url=http://img206.imageshack.us/img206/9393/final1adownresjp9.jpg]Click for a different comp with a slightly more evil feel[/url]