I've had a computer in my studio now for a year, and I love being able to paint from it. I used to print out a picture on photo paper, and paint from that. It's so much better using the monitor! I can enlarge the reference and see much more detail now, which makes my job a lot easier. I can also use PhotoShop to help compose the image.
For instance, I can put my reference image in PhotoShop and "Posterize" it to show only a few values. This can help me work through my initial drawing. Here is the ref posterized:
First I pick a light tone and draw out the highlights:
Next I take a middle and darker tone and place those in the appropriate places:
Next, I use a pastel pencil to work out my drawing:
I add in the background, and continue to work out the drawing:
Still working out my drawing while filling in local color:
Now I'm starting to fill in detail:
Now I've worked out the values for the most part, and just need the foreground and finishing touches:
Soft Pastel on Suede Matboard
If you've seen the demo on my web site, you'll have noticed that this is the same method, with the exception of using the computer. Isn't technology wonderful?