Quick recap: I've got a budget of about $1,500, and most of the work I'll be doing will be digital painting in Photoshop, with some basic modeling and animation in Maya and Mudbox. I'm still a student, so I need consistent and functional, not professional.
This is what the build looks like at the moment, and I'm planning to order on Monday.
I was planning to get an Nvidia until I did some research. The HD 7870 has the most consistent performance across all the programs I use. It's not always the fastest, but it does well in every single one of them.
Great suggestion on the IPS monitor. I found a decently priced Asus that seems to have good reviews.
The Fractal Design Define R4 keeps getting recommended to me, so unless I can get something cheaper, that's now the plan.