What to do after letting the black-and-white compositional studies hang on the wall for over a week and concluding that they're satisfactory? Integrate color.
At left is a homemade color swatch with extensive notes. I devoted a few sessions in their entirety to developing it. Having worked almost exclusively in black-and-white until less than a year ago, my understanding of color theory is still rudimentary. Furthermore, I'm going to be using acrylic inks for a good portion of this drawing. Since they don't mix or dry in the same ways as watercolor or gouache, I want to learn as much as I can about the way they handle before starting the drawing proper.
I can't overemphasize how much easier the color study (at right) was made by putting in time on the swatch. Don't dismiss purely technical exercises--their entire purpose is to get you to a point where you don't need to think about technique! Now I can file that swatch away and use it for reference on future projects, or hang it on my studio wall, where it will look super cool and very professional.
I love Old Master drawings done in sepia and gray, so I'm happy with the subtle variations among the earth tones so far. But the study already indicates places where I need to accentuate contrast and bring out texture. For the next round of studies, I'll experiment with a few more media to see how this might be accomplished.