The most difficult hurdle for a person that wants to start carving seems to be tool selection: "Where do I begin?" There are hundreds of combinations of sweeps and widths and gouge geometry and manufactures and etc. It's overwhelming to the woodworker who only wants to make a shell and does not know what to get in order to do so.
The good news regarding this dilemma is that, once started, the answers to 'gouge selection' are always self-evident. You just need to start. You will never read a thread on a woodworking forum asking "which gouges should I buy second?"
Over the course of the last 2 1/2 years I've been asked countless times "where do I begin with hollows and rounds?"
Since announcing the release of my upcoming book, Chris Schwarz and I have been asked this same question a few times. I wrote a blog post at Lost Art Press in an attempt to address this concern.
Like carving, getting started is the hardest part. (And I guess, like carving, knowing when to stop is the second.)