Susan (LS Irish) has a whole set of free instructions on beginning carving at this site. check down the page a ways and you will find tutorials on picking a pattern, transferring the pattern to the wood, basic cuts and how to use them, tools you will need, how to sharpen your tools, basic equipment and a whole string of other great information, all accompanied by photographic illustrations.
Following these prepared tutorials will probably be a lot easier for you than trying to glean techniques from individual carvers on-line.
Also on her site are numerous free patterns you can pick from for an easy start. LS Irish also has some of the best relief carving instruction books around.
Another site you may find helpful is www.littleshavers.com
This is run by a very helpful couple in Seattle. You will find not only excellent carving supplies there, but Rick Ferry, the owner is extremely helpful to beginners with advice on his site on carving, selecting tools, sharpening, etc. There are several tutorials available on his site, too.
As far as basics go.....you should be able to find some decent basswood boards to start with at most hobby stores or any of the big box stores. Select as clear a piece as uu can find, one that is free of knots and has only straight grain.
Patterns can be best transferred with special "transfer paper" available at hobby stores, or just use regular carbon paper.
Probably best to begin with a good bench knife and a 1/2 to 3/4" #10 sweep gouge, although you can get by with a small set of pa;m gouges.
If you follow Susan's method you will first determine "levels" of material to be removed, and mark them off on your pattern.
Begin by inisising "stop cuts" around the hard edges on your pattern, then removing some of the background material using the gouge by cutting into the stop cut.
From here on it's just a matter of re-applying parts of the pattern that are removed and contiinuing to develop the carving with more stop cuts and background removal.
I would strongly suggest you go to the LS Irish site and follow the tutorials there. They are much more clear than what I can try to relay with just words. It will take a little time to work through all the material, but it is well worth the effort.
Hope this is helpful, and hope you come to enjoy carving as much as the rest of us!