Here’s another take - this time with a studio lighting HDRI and two globes - an improvement, I think, but not happy with the skin. This is Elite Glamour GI - will have to play around with SSS and translucency?
My first recommendation is this…
Stop with the HDRI and GI and SSS and drag ‘n drop solutions. You’ll never learn about lighting if you’re always going for the fancy or prepackaged solutions. It’s why most amateur/hobbyist images all look the same and have no impact, and why stuff like “Poser nostril glow” is so common and, to many, so obvious and silly looking. The throw a bunch of stuff that they don’t understand at their images and hope it will look good.
If you really want to showcase your modelling efforts as well as you can, start simple. Get rid of all the stuff you mentioned, and spend the next two weeks learning about spotlights. Just spotlights. Nothing else.
Put a model in a scene, black background, NO AMBIENT LIGHT, no fancy HDRI or GI or SSS or whatever. Just insert one spotlight. Get rid of the default distant light. And that’s it. Leave all the default settings. Which means 100% shadow casting.
Now, just go in to the Effects and select Enable Soft Shadows, and set it at around 1 or 2 ft. light radius.
Now start doing renders as you adjust the spotlight. Change the half angle down to like 5 degrees, point it at the subject, and render. See how it looks. Put the spotlight to the front, to the side, above and below the subject. And spend the next two weeks just trying out the one spotlight. Then start adjusting the Effects. Just play with Gel, Shadow, and IES. Try them all, see what they do.
Then spend the next month or two doing your renders using only that one spotlight. Every scene, every render, just try to get the best possible image using just ONE spotlight. No ambient, ALWAYS have 100% shadow casting, and just try to get the best possible render.
You can’t learn if you’re trying out 12 different things at the same time. It’s great for playing with software, and if that’s what you want to do, then fine. But if you really want to learn like you say, you have to learn. And the only way you’re gonna do that is start simple, and start with the basics.