Oh man, I really can't say how happy it makes me to look at this improvement. I chose that picture because I distinctly remember being super proud of it. I even thought people would want to steal it or something because of how awesome it was.
I was 11 years old, one month away from turning 12. I had been using photoshop for a few months and was super confident with it (though I had no idea what layers were). I drew up this picture very quickly, was all proud of it, and posted it on as many sites as possible. I called it "Feathertail's Awakening", and posted it on my short-lived dA account (which you can still find through this art piece. Feel free to go on it and laugh at my 11-year-old self).
So I decided to try again. Damn, I'm proud. It feels good knowing that one can improve so much in just a short four or so years. It gave me hope that I can continue to improve, grow, and bloom as an artist.
What changed? When I was 11, I was insecure as an artist. I would make a piece and insult it for attention, and then bask in the "omg it's so good" comments. As I grew, I began to realize that critique is good. Having somebody tear apart your piece is good. I slowly began letting critique in. As this happened and as I stopped making excuses to the critiquers ("It's my style" "It's too hard" "I meant for it to look like that"), I grew. Listen to people who give you advice! You can't always see your own faults in your artwork.
I'll post the full version of the "after" picture right away.~