Thought it might be fun to show some of the progressions for some recent work. In general I start with a set of photos of the subject and rough out a composition. Often that includes using Photoshop to move bits around. It is much faster then sketching up different arrangements.
So for the piece I did with the bicycle a year or so ago, I started with the idea… a bike, a wall, ivy, distant hills. After several iterations in photoshop, I transferred the line drawing to the paper and started the pencil work.
I usually work from left to right, although I do move around a fair bit to get a feel for the whole piece and how the values are working – or not – as a whole.
Then I lay it it out, sharpen the pencils, and get lost in the drawing!