If I am commissioned for a pencil portrait I will generally use a grid to help achieve greater accuracy. Because I work from photos this is the quickest and best way to start the drawing. With a commissioned portrait I need to consider the time it takes to complete as well as achieving a good likeness. A portrait drawing has greater value if it conveys an accurate likeness but this has to be balanced against the completion time.

For this drawing I began by scanning the original photo, adding a grid over it on the computer then printing it out. A scaled up version of the grid is then drawn by hand on a thin sheet of paper. I prefer to draw out the picture on thin paper first then transfer it to good quality paper afterwards. The advantage of doing it this way is that there will be no grid lines on the good paper and less chance of dirty smudges or indentations. I draw the design in pencil keeping it as simple as possible and concentrating only on achieving correct proportions. The faces are the most important part of the drawing so they get the most attention; every shadow shape has to be mapped.

Drawing against a grid is not like sketching but more like mapping. Every line, shape and angle is referenced against the grid. Checking the size and shape of the negative spaces is also very important and helpful.