I've been drawing dogs, cats, and stick figures for as long as I can remember. In 6th grade, however, I was introduced to the Fruits Basket anime, and nothing in my life was ever the same. In addition to cultivating a life-long love with cartoons and Laura Bailey, I was finally ready to learn how to draw humans.
When you're 12, it's easy to underestimate how crucial it is to understand anatomy. Especially since over the next 2 years, I binge-watched every anime available on Netflix at the time – and we're talking disc-only Netflix here, folks.
Fortunately and unfortunately, anime has a very distinct style. Although each artist, each anime, and each manga have their own look and vibe, you can definitely recognize similar patterns and trends in anime-style art that are similar to each other, and different than other kinds of art.
For a noob artist like me, it was really hard to break out of thinking I could just learn "the anime style" as a set of rules all on its own, and be great at drawing people forevermore. Ah, to be young.
Figure-drawing was also an intimidating concept because of the fact that many models are, frankly, naked. To a young teen lass such as myself, the idea of seeing anything or anyone naked felt like The Ultimate Transgression.
I was also not old enough to realize that naked does not necessarily equate to sex. The prevalence of sexualized bodies in media didn't help. I refused to draw naked people out of fear that I would be deemed as drawing "naughty" things that a good young teen lass would never think about.
Ironically, most of this pressure came from my peers, and I refused my mom's offers to go to her figure drawing classes.
I'm still not completely over my nervousness about figure drawing.
I would like to be able to say that I'm mature enough to be Over It™ when it comes to nude bodies, and in some ways I am. I've seen enough of them over time and in various ways to know how they function, and how to respect all kinds of different bodies. In the art studio, you have a specific type of relationship with your model, which should be respected in its own way.
However, figure drawing still makes me a little nervous, but not necessarily because of the same reasons as before. I really want to do justice to the things that make the model beautiful and unique, and I'm worried about seeing them the wrong way.
So for now, I'll keep going to classes and keep drawing, and maybe the practice will show me some things that I never considered before.