Okay... first of all, don't get mad at me for writing this. I'm not pretending to be an expert and I'm probably the first to say "I've still got a long way to go" but I do go to an arts high school and I've taken art classes for eleven (going on twelve) years.
Today I was bored so I decided to look at some critique-able artwork and let me just say... wow. (Not necessarily a good or bad "wow") I found myself wanting to give the same advice over and over again....
So, just some pointers that are good for everyone one to think about (again, don't hate me, these are just from my experience)
1) DON'T draw manga/ anime. Okay to read, fun to watch but as a beginning artist BAD IDEA! believe me, I started out by drawing it and let me just say that you will eventually have to or want to make the transition to realistic or simply stylized art and that transition is a BITCH!
Also, If you want to go to art school they HATE manga, they want you to do something in your own style.
2) OBSERVATIONAL DRAWING! draw from life... people, animals, plants, inanimate objects in general. When you draw what you see, even in an insanely sketchy way so no one except you can tell what it is, you are learning. AND trust what you see, don't just go with what you think it looks like. Blind-contures are great for that and they're fun!
Once you learn how something should look (mostly) realistically, then you can tweak it to your liking.
*note- this is why starting with manga is bad, not only is it more an idea but the proportions are way of and all you learn by drawing it is how to draw something incorrectly.
Figure drawing classes are a good to learn how to draw people (once you're there for five minutes they stop being a naked person and just another object you happen to be drawing. If you're uncomfortable with nudity you'll eventually get over it but in the meantime buy an anatomy book FOR ARTISTS! (not medical, they aren't dynamic and will only give you a basic idea of where everything should go, anatomy for artists books will show you well rendered drawings of models in various poses and close ups of problem areas such as the neck, shoulders, legs etc... seriously, buy on of these books.)
A good book (not an anatomy book but a good exercise book) is "The Natural Way to Draw" by Kimon Nicolaïdes.
3) EXPERIMENT, experimenting with new mediums and various techniques can be really scary but really fun. You aren't obligated to continue to use them but just try. Whip out those watercolors (Reeves sell very nice, inexpensive tube sets), play around with Photoshop (if you have access to it), just have fun
FINALLY! don't get discouraged. it's tough and I often find that the people who are hardest on us are ourselves. I once worked myself into a sobbing breakdown. It's okay, but just persevere, have your cry and move on.
Again... I"M NOT AN EXPERT! but I have found these to be good things to live by (and have had them told to me by numerous teachers and colleges, especially OBSERVE) so just try them out.
Don't feel obligated to follow my advice and PLEASE don't yell and me and be rude (as I know some of you may want to) I'm not ordering you to do this... as my grandfather used to say "You don't have to take my advice but I'm going to give it to you anyway".
Ta for now <3