Might want to read "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". It is the best book on learning to draw, period. It will take you from stick figures to portraits in three days.
Table of Contents
So, Animu has finally sold you the dream of being able to shit out quality artwork like a fat man on laxatives? Well, tough shit. You're not going to be a famous mangaka that makes a one hit wonder and spends the rest of his days hitting jailbait in Western Japan. You're not going to make a profitable career out of your drawing like (immense fucking hack) Tim Buckley. Your drawings are going to be utter shit. You're going to rip apart your drawing pads, snap over 9000 mechanical pencils and it's not unlikely that at some point, you'll lose your mind and become an hero.
Oh, there is hope but you first you need to understand that you suck. Over time, you will get better. Much like dieting, improvements to your artwork will be small and you probably wont notice them right away. It'll take a long time before you're able to produce fapable artwork.
Being able to draw is SO worth it, you'll probably be hitting yourself for even thinking about quiting once you get good. Not only does it give you something to do when you've got time to kill but you'll also be able to impress fellow /b/tards and possible GF's. Women love art, though it might be advisable to tone down the "endowment" so as not to provoke an unfavorable reaction.
Now that you've come to terms with this masochistic hobby, it's time to get cracking. First you're going to need some supplies. Not all paper is equal, but for now you'll be ok with printer-grade or paper arks, aka drawing pads. A drawing pad, some charcoal and some graphite will run you about seven bucks.
Mechanical or non-mechanical pencils each have their ups and downs but it basically boils down to this: Mechanicals are easier to control, but non-mechanicals wont break and feel more natural. Pick which ever you like better.
The usefulness of drawing books is to say the least, highly debatable. A lot of these books, ESPECIALLY the ones focusing on Animu, are shit. Avoid them like a horny FBI agent. The only one this Anonymous can truly recommend are Andrew Loomis' books ("Fun With a Pencil" for beginners, "Figure Drawing For All It's Worth" and "Drawing the Head & Hands" for learning/refining anatomy, "Creative Illustration" to get a basic sense of composition and color schemes and finally "Successful Drawing" for interesting lighting). I don't care if your weeaboo ass doesn't like Loomis' style (which is almost 1:1 realism), the most important thing you need to know is you need to understand anatomy before you can properly simplify and abstract it, eventually forming your own style. Never forget that.
A Wacom is a digitizer tablet that allows you to draw straight into your computer instead of scanning your drawing and then tracing it with Photoshop or the Gimp. The following is mythical-grade truth and is never to be questioned;
NO TABLET, NO MATTER HOW FUCKING EXPENSIVE, WILL EVER IMPROVE YOUR ABILITY.
If anything, you'll have a harder time using a tablet, since you'll have to calibrate the pen to get a consistent line that doesn't change from 12-120pts every thirty pixels. Until you've got some skill, don't even think about buying a tablet. Same for pen-mice, they suck, barely usable for redrawing over manga edits.
What a tablet will enable you to do, is just to have clean drawings straight out, because you can modify the picture as much as you want. But it will in no way make you "better" at drawing. You will be better when you can make a relatively clean drawing, then scan and modify it. Using a tablet like that will just remove the hardships of making a proper drawing, which means all the drawbacks(no pun intended) , and so you will not get to learn how to do a good drawing by yourself, and once you're out with only a pen in your hand you'll be stuck.
The best way to start is by drawing objects in your immediate environment. Any object can be simplified into basic shapes: squares, circles, ovals and triangles. Practice this and it'll make realistic drawing a hell of a lot easier.
Investing in some basic drawing courses at an art school or some such will more often than not pay off massively.
It might also pay off to trace images. Yes, I said it, tracing. It's dirty, cheap and looked down upon by everyone worth the lead in his pencil. Which is why you don't go around putting your traced shit on the net, you asshole. Trace it, learn from it, then BURN it.
Another point of view: While tracing might do the trick, copying other works as accurately without using any handicaps is most likely to pay off more once you've grasped the basics. The odds are that your copied stuff will look like shit and it's not going to change easily - this requires patience and time more than anything. Just copy, copy and copy some more stuff. The same rule applies as it does in tracing - never put your copied shit on the net. Copy it, learn from it, burn it, start from the beginning.
For those who are going to draw environments - which most of us are going to do sooner or later anyway - learn perspective drawing. It's not all that difficult, but it's a fucking must if you want to create realistic looking environments where everything is in proportion.
After toiling for hours upon hours, you've finally got something you want to show the world. Of course, the world doesn't give a shit and would probably put a Cuban cigar out in your eye if it had the chance, if only to ensure that you don't get any ideas that assume otherwise.
First you need a scanner. Simple enough to acquire, you can pick on up in any good computer or office store. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that you're going to need something that can do 300dpi (That's Dots-per-inch). More is better, by the way. Any drawing you scan should be AT LEAST 2500x2500+. This way, after you've traced your original lines, everything will be crisp and clean when you scale it down to something that wont fry your retina if you watch for more than 10 seconds.
When you're done scanning, you will have to remove the "dirt" on your drawing by making use of levels, (Ctrl+L for PS, Tools->Color Tools->Levels for Gimp), this will enable you to select the threshold of what is white, and what is black, anything that is whiter(/blacker) on the original image will be white(black), which means if you choose a light gray to become white, everything lighter will be white.
Once you've leveled the picture, you can remove the smudges with the eraser, clean up the edges, sharpen them or any spot you find blurry or add some blur where you want a more continuous filling. You can also crop and rotate to have the angle you desire. and use the dodge/burn tools to correct shades.
When you're done cleaning up, and I mean it, cleaning is half the work, you can think about making the drawing better or coloring it.
Sweet Longcat, there are so many different way to color a picture, the amount of ways can only compare to the amount of incestuous siblings in the southern United States. To save this article to from becoming 9000 pages long, we'll just post links to some tutorials depicting how to color and ink. I will however give you this handy Protip: Abuse layers like a catholic altar boy.
No, you don't need it yet. So don't. A republican-red-tape stamp across your drawing only serves to make it look like shitty. Not that it needs the help, by the way.
Rinse and repeat, Anonymous. Once you've done that, DO IT AGAIN. When you've gotten a little better, break out the jpgs(png, it can also handle transparency, so it's perfect for embedded pictures) and get some constructive criticism online. It sounds simple, but getting laid over the internet is easier than getting thirty words of worthwhile criticism. And Yes, stay the fuck away from DeviantArt, ShezyArt, StormArtists, VCL (If you know what this is, you're beyond redemption anyway) and anything in this vein.