So back in high school I used to take Art, eventually dropped it as technically I was never very good. I've got very little patience and I'll always rush things and mess anything up (especially with paint), but I do still remember some of the things I was taught in regard to composition and proportions. Always enjoyed doodling, and decided it'd be a decent hobby and get me away from games every now and then. I always need some kind of motivation so I'm planning on doing some little single-pane comic style drawings which each review on my website. Before I get even close to that though I need to get my drawing skills up.
I bought a WACOM Bamboo special edition (small) graphics pad thing, and this is my first sort of proper attempt, as in I know it's not good, but I'm struggling to work out what to do to make it better. It's just a test type thing so if the advice is leave that alone and start something new, I'm cool with that. Anyway I'd really appreciate any advice and suggestions on what to work on in the short term.
Oh and the idea for the drawing (and the comics of the future are basically me mixed with the character I'm playing in that particular game. So basically my head and build but their clothes. This is based on Guild Wars 2
for more super-inmediate advice, I would recomend working in a larger format, but mainly practicing in general, aided by a guide (book).
Studying the fundamentals is very important and the key to success, but don't stress yourself out too much! Just have fun and get yourself in the habit of drawing a ton by whatever means necessary. Performing mental gymnastics in the beginning by second-guessing every stroke of the pen is something I did initially, and it got in the way of my progress and enjoyment tremendously.
Just have fun!
It can't be stressed enough how much you improve by simply drawing naked people in real life. So, life drawing!
You may want to work on cultivating some then, because learning how to draw takes a very long time. Improvement is not so much a matter of having the deftness or "talent" to get things right immediately, as it about simply having a stubborn perseverance to keep trying while accepting that you will produce bad work, and that it's okay to make bad work.
It's good that you acknowledge you're on the starting rung of the ladder.
The problems with this drawing are directly related to those "fundamentals" the others have mentioned. That would be things like human anatomy, basic ability to imagine and represent three-dimensional form, line quality and mark-making, behavior of drapery or cloth, behavior of light, color theory. You could say that much of the fundamentals of drawing is about learning how the rules of nature work, so that you are able to convincingly play by those rules when you make a drawing. This is why life drawing of any kind is vitally important when you're beginning; you have to go straight to the source.
So if you're looking for short term suggestions, my personal advice would be to ditch the wacom for now and take a sketchbook and a pencil with you and start drawing things from life. Whatever you can find and handle: stuff on your desk, a pet, a room-mate, yourself in the mirror, a scene out the window, a bowl of fruit. Whatever. Your very first hurdle will be getting a grasp on what's called "observational" drawing. If your art instruction in high-school was any good this should be ringing some bells. You have to train yourself to be able to accurately draw things as they actually appear when you see them. Feel free to post the results of those studies here for feedback.
I recommend beginners get away from the wacom for two reasons. One, using digital tools generally means you are tethered to a computer and it can hamper your ability to actually go out and find things to draw. More importantly though, is that you have quite a lot on your plate to learn already, and adding in the additional complexity of figuring out how digital tools work on top of that is like sabotaging yourself. When something isn't working you won't be able to tell if it's a problem with your ability to draw or your familiarity with the medium, and you will be dedicating a lot of your attention towards simply figuring out how to use the tools when you ought to be focusing totally on the actual fundamentals. Using a pad of paper and a pencil or some other basic dry medium sidesteps that whole set of issues and lets you focus on the important things.
Thought I would add my two cents
and this is my work after about 30-40 minutes. I seem to really struggle getting the basic shape right, I understand what I read in some of the things linked on the forum about drawing what my mind sees rather than my eye. If I try to draw what I'm looking at I seem to massively exaggerate every little detail, ruining the proportion. Apologies for the image quality, I have no scanner and these are done in pencil.
For instance, draw a box of the same proportions as the photo of your apple; then, instead of trying to draw the shape of the apple itself, block in the shape of the white space surrounding the apple, relative to the frame. If you want to simplify the shape of the white spaces, you might crop the photo in as tightly as possible around the object you're drawing.
It's a good exercise to imagine your view frame even when drawing from life. Having those boundary lines as reference is invaluable in accurately perceiving and copying shapes onto paper.
Your struggles with observation are totally typical. Getting a better intuitive sense of proportion, and knowing which details are most important to communicate (and which can be downplayed) are things that will come with practice. More practice is the most important thing. You're building up a muscle here.
As a piece of general advice I would say, try to worry a bit less about the surface material qualities of the apple, or whatever object, for now. Focus your attention on the shape and proportions of the object rather than agonizing over getting the specular shine right, or marking every individual pit in the surface. Light and materials and textures are important too, but you can focus on them later. Getting basic forms right is as fundamental as fundamentals get. Divide and conquer.