I like to begin portraits with a charcoal study. Actually I was this far along before thinking my blog readers might be interested, so I'm sorry I didn't take some pictures earlier. You can see the grid lines I used for placement, and you can see I massed in the shadows using soft vine charcoal. I sort of work back and forth with the charcoal and an eraser, putting in darks and taking them out, till it gets to where I want it.
Here is the set-up in my studio. There is the image on the computer screen. I like working from the computer because it is so easy to enlarge the image. Any artist who has tried to work from a photograph, even 8" x 10" size, knows what I'm talking about. As you can see, I made it easier on myself here by converting the photograph to black and white.