And now, a special disclaimer: these are my steps. They are not specifically set forth in any other source of which I am aware (other than the sources upon which I rely - which are the rules and statutes themselves). I've put them together after perfecting many criminal appeals. Some may find certain steps missing or some that are overindulged in. However, this is just a starting point. You can get creative after a while, so long as you keep in mind what is mandated by the various rules and statutes. In fact, if you are to become efficient, after you have become proficient, it is expected that you will craft your own, personally-tailored series of steps for the perfecting of criminal appeals.
Once you have a feel for what all the steps are, only then should you feel free to take them out of order, and rearrange them, tailoring them to your own efficiencies and proficiencies.
So, the next question: do you need to "know this stuff cold"? Well, you certainly need to know most of it cold and, let's face it, your first few appeals will probably be painful learning experiences. However, once you get the "feel for appeals" it becomes much easier. In fact, believe it or not, a huge chunk of what you do in your first criminal appeal can be copied wholesale (especially the essential forms), with a few revisions, for your next appeal, so you do not have to keep "reinventing the wheel." Therefore, while you may not need to know this stuff cold - and probably won't the first time - it really does help you to get the criminal appeal done right the first time - so that you don't have to unlearn things that don't really apply.
Have fun discovering and exploring!