View Box Modeling
Box Modeling is a modeling technique that starts with a cube primitive. Typically, you add several segments to each side of the cube, and then start pushing and pulling a rough shape using the standard tools and brushes. You extrude, add edges, subtract edges, and so on in order to create your desired object. Many modelers prefer box modeling for characters and other object types, though there are many methods you can try.
Box modeling is fairly easy, though it might take awhile to get to the shape you wish. For characters, box modeling is combined with HyperNurbs to smooth out the mesh. One advantage for using HyperNurbs for characters is that you can build and rig a lower resolution base mesh, and let HyperNurbs add the additional detail that you wish at render time.