For the people who are stuck in the anime rut:
4 years ago, I was stuck in the exact same place. I drew (horrible) anime styled mary-sues, and wanted to be the greatest anime artist that ever lived. I thought realism was boring, and drawing it was inhibiting my growth as “a mangaka!!!!!!!!”.
Thankfully, I was accidentally placed in a Life Drawing class in my Freshman year of high school, instead of Art 1. My teacher, upon first seeing my anime drawings, told me that my anime would improve dramatically if I studied realism. I stupidly took this with a grain of rice. But today, that advice was completely, 100% true.
Anime and other cartooning, whether it reflects it or not, is based on realism, because it’s meant to represent objects in reality.
So, I HIGHLY recommend taking realism classes if you’re serious about art. The shading techniques and observational skills you learn improve your art tremendously. Plus, any college or art job you apply to will want you to have realism in your portfolio, to show that you can do more than just cartooning or stylization.
If you’re stuck in the anime rut, I suggest trying out a new style. I tried drawing in a quirky western cartoon style, and I absolutely love it! And if the style you try isn’t working out, try another one. You should experiment, and see what works for you. Eventually, your style will develop into something completely original! :)
If you have any questions or would like some advice, feel free to drop me an ask! —» http://kaleyhamilton.tumblr.com/