I wanted to create a thread where people who go to an art school can share the knowledge they've learned and the exercises and techniques which has helped them to learn with people who don't have the chance to go to a school. You don't necessarily have to be an art student at a school, if you have a great exercise please share it with everyone.
As a self studier I feel it is extremely hard to figure out what kind of exercises would help me improve. School's have so much knowledge to help you become better.
I believe the right exercises and techniques can make you learn faster. I'm not looking for the quick way to become a great artist but having the knowledge can improve your learn greatly when you know what to learn, HOW to learn it and have the right recourses.
If you make sure your "exercise/technique" submission is as clear as possible it will make it a bit easier to find the subject you are looking for when this thread grows bigger.
Here's an example(feel free to correct me if something here sounds odd):
Exercise: When you study anatomy recourses are absolutely necessary. Real life size skeleton isn't necessary but is the best option to learn by observing and drawing all the bones.
Books are a great resource as well. Start by learning the human bone structure. You can copy this from the books if you don't have a skeleton in your closet. Might be a good idea to learn the proportions of the human body at the same time. Start from top to bottom and when you think you know how to draw the bone continue to the next bone. You can also start by simplifying all the bones into contour drawings(by leaving the shading out at first and drawing only the outline) and keep the shapes simple.
Human is a machine that works certain way, learn how everything works.
After you know the skeletal structure move to learning muscles. Obviously if you have a chance to go to see and draw at an autopsy that's great but most of us don't have the chance. So books are great for this as well. Learn the range of motion for the human body and learn what happens if one muscle contracts etc.
Find photos online or take some of your self in different positions. Then print the image and put two layers of tracing paper on top of it. Draw the skeletal structure on the first tracing paper and muscles on the second. Start with simple front view and as you get better go to more complicated poses.
Figure drawing classes and workshops are great and the better understanding of the human proportion and anatomy the more you can get out of the life drawing classes.
If you have a chance find an "Ecorché" class where you sculpt the human with oil clay half skeleton and half muscles. Sculpting in general is a great way to feel and understand the form.
You can find variety of good books http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=82706.