I'm sure most people know the feeling, you look at someone's artwork and think to yourself -
'How did they get so good? I wish I was that talented!'
Well odds are they weren't born that way, they had to develop their skills over time. It's true some people are faster learners (or 'talented' if you prefer) but that doesn't mean you should throw in the paint brush. Here are a few steps to take to start improving your work-
1. Draw every day
Even if you can only doodle for 5 or 10 minutes a day that is a lot better than not drawing at all. Just the act of putting pencil to paper will help you to train your hand and over time your movements will become a lot more confident and your line work will be smoother.
2. Draw new things
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and draw something that you've never drawn before. Drawing the same thing over and over will mean you are great at drawing that one thing but it won't improve the overall level of your art.
3. Draw the same thing from a different angle
Drawing from different angles will help improve your perspective and you will be able to use that to create more impact in your pictures. Take a tree for example, if you stand up and look at it you have your first perspective, then if you lie down on the ground and look up at it you are still looking at the same thing but now it has a completely different perspective and it appears huge in comparison to how it did while you were standing. This is important for setting scenes and creating interest in your drawings.
4. Block out scenes
A common mistake people make is to start focusing on the small details of a picture before getting the larger basics correct. This can then mean parts of the drawing are squashed into a space that is too small for them or something is at an angle that doesn't make sense because they don't want to rub out all the hard work they've already put into the detail work. Practice sketching a busy scene such as a cluttered room or a garden with lots of plants. Don't try to record all the small details like leaves on a tree, just concentrate on getting objects on the page that are in the correct position and are the correct size relative to the other objects around them.
5. Capture the little details
This is an important skill to practice once you have improved your blocking. Divide a sheet of paper into a set of 2 inch by 2 inch squares. Inside each square try drawing the close up details of objects or photographs you have to hand. For example in one you could focus on drawing the rough texture of lizard skin and in another you could focus on the woodgrain from a door. Other things you could try include bubblewrap, wicker baskets, veins on a leaf, textured wallpaper, knitted fabric etc. Different textures go a long way to bringing a drawing to life.
Each of these exercises may start out frustrating but the more you practice each one the faster your artwork will improve.