It seems that I'm the only one left here who's keeping up posting morale ;-) Anyways, here are some sketchy warm-ups, old and new. Warm-ups always help me getting in my design "zone". Whether a truism or not, it is still true.
Since I draw mostly digitally, I try to avoid the kind of sterile vibe to it by putting high-res photographs of real paper and pencils on a background layer in Photoshop, at least for the rough process. I even add image noise to the background...
Quite recently, an animation student posted a photo of a quick red ballpen drawing I did for her during an animation festival festival in Florence. Today, I used this very photo for a quick process demo.
To me painting is not just copying reality. You can even ask yourself if there is a true reality, because maybe we all perceive the things we see hear and feel differently.
With that in mind, I try to think of painting as putting my personal impression on the canvas, rather than trying to copy reality.
This goes for painting from life, but also when I am constructing a composition for an illustration.
Studying perspective, color, light, anatomy, using different media all help to be able to translate your experience to marks on the canvas, that, hopefully, communicates my concept to the viewer.
I added some examples of some works of great artists and how they use their references. None of them just copies what's in front of them. They use it to absorb as much information about their subject as they can, in order to create their personal version of it.