The initial outline does not have to be inspiring in-itself, and can be reworked throughout the drawing, however some level of accuracy is required if you wish to keep areas of your page clean for later highlights. If your lines go astray a piece of putty should soon put it to rights as vine charcoal is very malleable - you might even get away with rubbing out areas with a clean finger.
Seeing negative shapes helps a great deal when marking out the human figure, for example, the triangle between the sloping back and left arm, or the shape between the left thigh and right breast. I started the drawing with the arm and back so that I could size the head to fit.
Applying the Dust
I used an old soft brush for this. One that is too coarse (such as hog's hair) will scrape the dust particles, which may find a use in another drawing, but not for this one.
This step is fairly messy, but I am unconcerned about particles finding their way into my outline: dust particles are easily removed providing they have not been pushed in too hard with the brush.
Even before I put brush to paper, particles were falling off onto the page.
By working the background first, the darkest tones are established and provide a tonal reference to more accurately apply the highlights and middle-ranged tones for the body and face.
The dust particles create miniature plumes of 'smoke' that are fascinating to observe, but try not to breathe it in. Better to work in a ventilated room and keep your head at a distance.
I dip the brush into the powder as necessary, but try not to leave an excessive amount of dust on the page. I know that if the dark is not as dark as I would like, I can always spray a little fixative and repeat this stage at a later time.
Cleaning the Consequent Mess
Using my smaller brush I go over the lines of my drawing to soften the edges and remove a little of their blackness.
The brush I am using is a cheap Cotman size 111 watercolour brush. After two drawings it looks slightly sorry for itself, so my advice is please do not use your best kolinsky sable brushes!
This is the stage where I stop and look at what I have so far with a little despondence. Many artistic endeavours can look quite feeble in their early stages. With a little perseverance I am confident it will take shape.
I adopt a different approach to each of my drawings/paintings. In this instance I want to finish the head before proceeding. No fixative has been sprayed and so it is imperative I keep my hand off the paper.