EDIT: Added some points that I had forgotten yesterday. /edit
WARNING Includes personal thoughts and unbeliveably messy random babbling. Might include traces of nonsense and mild annoyances. To be applied with caution.
(Feel free to ignore. Honestly, even I can't tell what I was supposed to say anymore. I'm a cronic rambler.)
There is this vague concept of "my own unique style" I've seen for quite a while. People wave the concept around like it was some kind of ultimate argument that automatically makes it okay not to pay any effort to getting any better. It's treated as the magic button that instantly makes people's drawings praise worthy and perfect.
"Style" is not just one way of drawing one thing and nothing else. Style is your personal way of moving the pencil, the way you hold it, how your muscles are used to do it, how your hand-eye-coordination works, and how your mind works things from your brain into the whatever your chosen canvas happens to be.
I have seen people who draw pretty looking "anime" boys and nothing else. I've seen people, who draw Ginga-style dogs and nothing else. I've seen people, who draw in The Lion King-looking style, and nothing else. If that's what they most enjoy doing, I have no problem about it. Great if you lovewhat you draw! But when they can't drawn anything else, and refuse to ever even listen to any advice to get better, attacking anyone who might have advice... Well, rabid pirahnas never were my personal favourites.
If you want to have a real style, something you're recognised from, tracing Simba/Ginga/spirit/whatever is not exactly the right thing to do.
If you really want to have a real, personal, unique style that people recognise, forget about having one. Don't aim to build a style. Concentrate on getting better, learn how to be a better artist, and style will just happen.
If you want to draw dogs, go to library and borrow illustrated books of dogs, see lots of photos, go out and look at real living dogs, watch videos of them, examine them. Look how they move and what moves in them. Learn their structure, study what bones they have, how their joints bend, how they move, how do they show their feelings, their emotions, what poses look natural and what's broken. Compare dogs of different types, breeds, ages. What do their expressions look like. Maybe draw some croquis drawing. To make something really look like a dog you don't just slap a tail on it and draw it panting, draw them to act like dogs. Don't just copy Ginga, Ginga dogs are stiff and rely on the narrator telling me how the dogs feel instead of showing them feeling it (judging by the original comic). Stupid narrator...
I bark the good old Practice. I don't mean that to get better you should just draw something over and over again, that way you practise the errors too. Good practise is made of studying.
One of the more important advice in drawing anything is: Like what you draw. That makes you motivated to learn and wanting to get better really kicks the juices moving. If you want to draw someone riding a horse but can't draw horses and your horses look bad, it will lead people who know about horses to point out how your horses are bad, and it doesn't matter how many times you tell them individually that it's your style of drawing horses, someone will always look at the drawing itself, see how your horse looks like a sheep, and they will tell you how you can make them look more like horses whether you like it or not. Do you like being told over and over again what you're doing wrong? Get to know horses better, that way you might start to like them.
Stylistic and wrong are two completely different things.
And don't give me the argument about how weird looking the most famous paintings of Picasso are while still being admired artist. You do know that Picasso went through classical training in art? That his father was determined to make him an artist? There is a story that Picasso's father made him draw bird feet over and over again hundreds of times untill they were perfect, at the age of three. Picasso knew how to draw realistic, he has achieved the peak of photorealism when he was just a teen, and his most famous works are famous because he had already seen the realism, and wanted to break through to something never done before.
If you want to break the rules, you might want to know the rules before.
Have you ever read any Asterix comics? (Except for the book Asterix and the Falling Sky, I refuse to acknowledge it to be part of my childhood favourite) I recently found some albums when I visited home, and I was baffled when I looked at the horses. The things are caricaturized, big headed and stylished, but at one point I found myself staring at one of them, and I realised I could have named all the muscles and bones visible on it. Now THAT'S some skill! Albert Uderzo is also skilled in realistic painting and switching to other people's styles.
Do you know why anime looks like it does? The "style" originates from animation, where in order to have one second worth of movement you usually have to draw twelve near identical drawings toget it look like moving? Twenty four drawings if the movement is fast. Having the characters be simple to draw gets the job done alot faster. The same goes for "manga" side, usual Japanese comic artists draw twenty pages a week, which means lots of repetition on the characters. Simple characters are a good way of meeting the deadline in time.
Do you know why The Lion King style looks as it does? The same reason, it was an animation. The Disney studio took real life lions into the drawing studio so that the animators could learn everything there was to learn about real life lions, they even shipped some of their animators into Africa to study the things in their own environment. When Pixar did Ratatouille, they kept pet rats in their animation studios to study from. Dreamworks brought their animators to see real, living mustang horses to study from. The style is there just so it could be possible to animate, and be drawn by all the animators on board (lots of people!) so the horses keep consistent throughout the movie.
By copying styles of other people, you might learn certain formulas, but without knowing where those formulas are based on, you will end up digging a trap hole for yourself. The deeper the whole, the harder it is to climb up to fix your errors.
Now look at the messy pile of a picture above and tell me one thing: What is MY style?
(Actually my style has been analysed already once. I bumped in in the middle of a conversation in Liminka school of arts last year, where my classmates were discussing drawing styles, and out of curiosity I asked what my style was like. After a while of silence, they answered: "Hairy".)
I can't see my own style. No, really, I can't see it. I do recognize my drawings when I see them, of course, but I can't see any style in them. I don't copy my own drawings. I am aware that I must have a "style" of my own, as I do have habits of drawing, I just can't see it myself.
You know, I've grown upin a cave, so to speak. I was grown in countryside, where everything was far away and all people living within two miles were considered "close neighbors". I remember the first computer that came to our... Town is a way too big word for it, but it'll have to do now, and I didn't find internet untill I was already in high school, having my way of drawing already well established. I learned to draw from whatever was in hand. I copied Garfield and Lena Furberg's horse comics. Those were never enough for me, having practically been raised by nature documentaries and having real lively imagination. I didn't draw that much as a kid, but I had modelling paste, I made my own toys. Even still I see everything I draw in 3D in my head (which is a really, REALLY good thing, I've learned). I learned drawing from photos in animal books, and studied moving animals from documentaries and shows like Animal Hospital. At school my classmates often commissioned me to draw their pets, so I became pretty good at observing and copying from photos. I took every art class my elementary schools had to offer, and my current school is my third art centered school I've been to. I wanted to learn! I wanted to get better!
I'm an animator, I can adapt to draw in other ways and even other people's styles styles if I need to. I don't have any reason to limit or cage myself into any formula. I can even draw in the darn "magical girl manga" style! I don't particularly want to, but I'm able to.
However, I have aquired the stigma of being a "doggy artist" that I sometimes get reminded to be my style. Here is a little story of how my "specialization" happened:
As a kid I considered myself a fantasy creature artist being into reptiles and dragons. But when a friend of mine once decided that we should make a comic together maybe eight or so years ago ("we" ended up meaning "me" mostly) about wolves, I spent three months in a row drawing all my free time, even two minutes long breaks during school classes to draw our characters. I drew all the time, every single spare minute. When I was at home, I referenced photos Finnish Lapland dog magazines our neighbors had given me and books of dogs, whatever happened to have photos in them, and when I was at school, I tried to draw every picture in different pose. Majority of the drawings are lost now, but during those three months I drew about two hundred drawings and countless of sketches of dogs. I wanted to do that. I didn't think of it as a drawing school or training, I just wanted to draw dogs, and so I did. And sure, wolves are cool. Before internet, they were even cooler. The whole thing ended with probably the biggest art block I've had in my life, but also the knowledge and skill to draw dogs in a way that was fast and effortless enough that I'm still able to draw one without the need of brain involvement. The comic never got anywhere, but I can still thank that drawing spur for being able to draw Wurr these days.
Calling "style" a ridiculously complicated concept is a horrible understatement to begin with. It's something that I can't describe, and it's something no-one can really teach. It's the attitude that counts.
And I've lost my thought for at least ten times here already, so it's about darn time for me to shut up about it. Just... Try to makeany sense out of it, I probably can't do that myself anymore. Geesh, I'm glad I can't ramble this bad in comics!
Papermonkey has spoken.
All drawings used in the picture above are my works, dug up from my galleries, none of which were drawn particulary for this deviation. Because I'm lazy.
(... This might need to be moved to scraps. Gee, way to wander off tracks.)
TL;DR: Relax, draw what you enjoy and study it, and style will happen. It'll grow with you.