When I draw from a model at the weekly portrait sessions I participate in, I really enjoy using toned paper. I have a small strathmore sketch book of light gray paper; I think they also make a pad of tan paper. Using a white pencil for the highlights and lightest tones, the paper then becomes the third value. The value scale would look like this:
I use a three step approach to these portrait drawings: First, using a 2B pencil, the head is positioned on the paper and I locate each feature with a light line. Yes, I know this is hard to see, but it gives a good idea of how lightly I draw when I begin.
Next I lay in the shadowed areas and general tone of the hair. For this I’ll use either a 2B or sometimes a 4B pencil. I’ve learned that the white pencil doesn’t go over graphite well so I am careful to leave the highlight areas untouched. Sometimes, I’ll draw a light circle around the areas I want to be whitest white.
Then, I move across the face, refining the line and shadow of each feature and paying close attention to the values of the planes of the face. This is the time when patience and keen observation is necessary to achieve the uniqueness of the model. I may use an HB pencil for subtle areas, or a 6B for very dark eyes, hair or deep shadows. Finally, I pick up the white pencil and add the highlights. I’ve learned that the white pencil is best used for small areas. For me it has not been successful to use the white pencil for large areas.
Experiment. See what works for you. Everyone will have their own unique way of using materials. This is what makes art both personal and individual