This is a basic step by step for my new piece, "Sonja". Drawn in graphite using Canson 11x14 Sketch Paper. Other tools used: Kneaded eraser, Graphite Pencils (H, F, HB and B), Eraser Pencils.
After laying down my line work, which consists of loose rendering, i refine the lines until they are as close to accurate as possible and erase the stragglers because they distract me. Once most of the stragglers are gone, i begin shading. I don't stick with one method because it becomes boring and stale and keeps me from experimenting and learning. Breaking tradition is a good path to expressing your own individual self. ;) I began by laying in some of the darkest darks (eyes and a bit in the hair). From there i went into light shading and worked into building and turning the form from light to dark.
Using an eraser, i lift out areas around the eyes and side of the face to establish the reflective light. I tried to stick with the original idea of 'Sonja's hood' but scrapped that idea and went for a full head and hair. The second idea was to have a long ponytail which i really loved. But i wanted to keep the light on the back of her neck and had to sacrifice the long hair for a bun, which made more sense.