Well, how do I draw a picture? Well, a good picture comes from careful planning. Whether it's a Japanese style drawing, or a more formal pen and ink drawing, planning is definitely the key. For me, that means photos. And lots of them - so its a good idea to invest in a digital camera.
Get one thats at least 3 megapixels and above - preferably 4, anything less is a waste of time. And make sure that it has optical zoom NOT digital zoom, so you can get in tight on those hard to see details. I like to have a camera that starts up quickly too, some of the earlier digital cameras took a long time to start up and the action was usually over by the time you got there. Make sure its fast. And take it everywhere with you, and take LOTS of pictures.
When you take your picture, try to frame the picture in the screen at the back, get it how you want it to look, take your time. Get in tight, dont get too far back. Dont keep the main focus object in the middle of the picture, let it be off to one side and down or up a little. When photographing people, get them to look at something while you take ther picture, not looking right into the camera lens! And dont pose animals, get them whilst asleep or at play, the picture will seem more natural.
Print your pictures off as big as you can - A4 or A3 is a good idea. And even if you are doing a black and white pen and ink drawing, print them in colour. That way hard to decipher objects can usually be identified. Keep you pictures, even the ones you are not as proud of - later on you might like them. I have found this to be true so many time. Plus, you learn by each and every picture you take.
Next time I will move on from reference pictures to the terrible whiteness of the sheet of paper, and how you get started ion turning it into a picture.