June 2010. Time required: ugh, don't ask.New:
October 2012. Time required: 10 days from initial rough sketch to final ink.Meme base
Before - I was a decent-in-high-school artist still shaking off rust from a 10-year hiatus from illustration. Since school, my only drawing had been patterns for cosplay - great for practicing symmetry and eyeball measurement, not so much for learning line quality. My lines were clunky, as was my digital setup and piecemeal understanding of facial anatomy and volume.
After - I studied the heck out of Andrew Loomis
and pro artists' work, from sketches (to understand capturing structure in that crucial rough phase) to lines (to learn how to improve my own). I drew a series of pieces through which I continually pushed myself to develop style along with my grasp of structure. I relaxed into nuance with the super-fine, natural-feeling pen of Manga Studio.
Conclusion - Work those fundamentals and don't be afraid to try. As long as you're striving to better yourself, every piece is a stepping stone. Someday you will look back and be pleasantly surprised at your progress.