For the things that I do, I generally just use the pointed tip (shown here. It looks like the end of a pencil), and the flat edged tip - for making nice straight lines.
I would suggest getting a tool that has at least 25 watts. The first one I used was not as high, and did not get hot enough. I did not know this, because it was the first time I had woodburned, so I just thought you had to push REALLY hard to get it to burn the wood, and ended up giving myself trigger thumb! A cortizone shot and a little know-how later, and I am doing much better. So yes, use a nice hot tool. Just be VERY careful. It would sear a steak it gets so hot - but it is just right for wood.
I try to stay away from wood with very noticable grain or knots. The harder the wood, the longer it takes to burn, and prominent grain makes the burning uneven as you go over it. Knots and grain lines do not burn as fast, so as you go over them, they may mess you up.
I have woodburned all sorts of things including shelves, stools, picture frames, mirror frames, lazy susans...the possibilities are endless! They make such great gifts too!
And dont be too intimidated by the painting part. This is actually easier than painting in a drawing, because the burned lines are easy to stay within. I use very watered down acrylic paint, allowing it to spread easily. Also, if paint gets in the burned lines, you can use a spare paintbrush to wick up the paint like it never happened.
You should try it!