This is a short summary of the – in my opinion – most important points I found all over the internet, while studying what it needs to improve your drawing and painting skills. I hope it will be helpful to many aspiring artists!
1. Learn the basics
Perspective, composition, color theory, anatomy, lighting & shading – this may be boring, but it's very important. You have to understand the basics to have a foundation to build on.
Also start with realism. You can simplify it to comics or Manga once you have mastered the fundamentals.
2. Have the right attitude
Don't rely on talent alone. Expensive equipment or an art school won't automatically make your artworks brilliant. Don't expect anyone to teach you, but study on your own. You have to work hard to become a good artist. Don't give up, if you really want it.
3. Start early and have a plan
Start working on your art as early as possible. You just have more free time when you're still in school. It's a lot easier than when you have a full-time job and need to make a living.
It's also important to have a proper plan. What do you want to achieve with your art? And how can you get there? Break your big goal down into little steps and use your free time wisely.
4. Surround yourself with art and artists
Study great art intensely. Try to imitate it (but don't claim it as your own!) and get inspired. You can learn a lot from it.
Watch other artist's videos, read their tutorials/books, ask them questions. Also share your art and help beginners. But don't compare yourself too much to others, everyone is different.
Don't hide from the artistic community.
5. Give and receive feedback
Anyone can be a critic. Tell other people honestly what you like/dislike about their art and show them ways to improve. But always remain polite! It will even help you to see your own mistakes better.
Ask for feedback yourself and take it seriously. Don't get discouraged if your art isn't great yet.
6. Use reference pictures
It's not cheating, as long as you're not tracing. No one knows what everything in the world exactly looks like. Analyze photographs or even better real life, understand how things work and are built. Learn to see in 3D, not only lines.
Take pictures of yourself in the pose you want to draw or look for stock photos. Don't forget to give proper credit!
7. Accept and learn from your mistakes
Nobody is perfect. Let someone check your work, they might see flaws you didn't notice before. Don't excuse mistakes as your “style”, but learn from them. Concentrate on your weak points and make an even better artwork next time.
8. Experiment and challenge yourself
Go out of your comfort zone. From time to time draw things you're not used to, in another style, with other materials or even try a whole different kind of art. You might even find a new art form that suits you better. Push your limits, but don't lose your focus.
9. Practice and keep track of your progress
Practice alone will only set habits, so remember the other points mentioned.
Draw as often as possible, set yourself goals, compare old pictures to new ones, draw them again. Don't forget to take breaks!
Focus on one aspect per month, so your brain knows what to remember. You'll soon see how much you have improved.
Good exercises: Gesture drawing, still life drawings, painting studies of e.g. movie stills, daily sketches, gray scale pictures, silhouettes, environments. Draw from life!
10. Enjoy and be patient
Improvement needs time, so don't stress yourself out. Be patient and enjoy what you're doing. What's the point of drawing/painting if you don't like it? If you're having fun you won't even realize how fast time goes by and your skills improve.
doodlealley.com (Educating comics about art.)
ctrlpaint.com/ (Short video tutorials on various art themes, especially digital painting.)
www.proko.com/ (Short video tutorials on drawing.)
www.youtube.com/FZDSCHOOL (Long video tutorials on various art themes, focusing on concept art.)
www.youtube.com/user/Sycra (Sycras Youtube channel with many helpful videos.)
hub.tutsplus.com/ (Many tutorials on various art themes and more.)
www.posemaniacs.com/ (Skinless 3D models of humans. Supports gesture drawing.)
artists.pixelovely.com/ (Figure and animal drawing tools, using photographs. Including hands, feet, expressions and nudes.)
www.deviantart.com/ (The largest online art community.)