Like anything worth doing, drawing requires lots of time and effort to get better. But there have been times when I made leaps of improvement, rather than a slow-and-steady climb. These are the tips I found most helpful in making those "leaps" in my art.
1. Flipping your art
Flipping your art is easier to do digitally than manually. Most drawing software will give you the option to flip the canvas horizontally, giving you the mirrored image. Mirroring your image helps detect any deformities in your art. By flipping the canvas frequently, you can bring fresh eyes to your work, and a chance to step back and look at your artwork as a whole.
When drawing manually, I will use a mirror. Check quite often to make sure nothing looks strange in a sketch before finalizing in ink. It takes some time getting used to, but you get the hang of it.
This technique works for graphic designers as well. Make a logo and flip it to see if the logo is balanced. Works great for those baseball swooshes!
2. Do not surround yourself with people who are always going to compliment you.
Here's looking at you, Facebook, and Instagram. Sure, it's nice to get showered with compliments, but this can also cause you to become complacent. I always like to remind myself of a little place called artstation.com-the land of a billion artists who are still going to be better than you. This humbles me immediately to draw something better.
It also helps to know reliable people who will give you good feedback. Don't know of any? Joining artists groups can help solicit feedback as well. Remember, no feedback is also a form of feedback.
3. Do artist tutorials, then apply them immediately.
Skimming through a tutorial doesn't work. I am just as guilty of this. You have to force your brain to spin its wheels! If a tutorial comes with homework, do them. If there are exercise files, use them. Apply the lessons learned immediately to your art. If you don't get anything out of a tutorial, its a waste of time for everyone. So why even bother?
4. Work on values
Values can make or break you. Do a great job on values, and it can be the 'wow' factor in a piece of art. Lose values, and it can make your artwork look flat and boring. Digital artists will often start their art in grayscale, and then gradually add color. This is to build the value foundation for their work.
It doesn't matter what color. I like using grayscale.
Practicing your values also goes hand-in-hand with the next topic; which is just as important.
5. Always reference life drawing
When you are working on values, you are essentially emulating how light a
nd shadows work in the real world. So naturally, you should always be practicing drawing REAL things.
This applies to any artist; even anime artists. In a nutshell, anime is stylized art. Stylized art mimics real-life things. If you can't draw real-life things, then how can you possibly stylize it?
6. Consistently drawing
This goes without saying. Drawing is like a work-out. You can work-out, build muscle, and get stronger; or stop and decline until you lose your edge.
Try making some time in the day for a quick sketch. I like to shoot for an hour, but if you're just starting, maybe try adding 15minute increments at a time. I understand that different people have different learning curves, but its also important to form the habit first and foremost!
I want to continue posting artist tip posts from time to time, as I keep learning new things myself. I realize everyone has different skill levels, and timing is everything with information. But if you feel that your skills have plateaued, or need a boost, I hope this will at least have given some insight.