I completed this figure drawing in charcoal on a huge piece of Arches Aquarelle Hot Pressed paper. It was the first time I'd tried this paper out and I was really impressed with it. It has a fairly smooth surface, which is very resilient. I would go so far as to say it is even tougher than the Fabriano Roma paper which I had always used previously. It takes a good amount of Nitram charcoal, and on this occasion I also added some compressed charcoal to give added punch to the darks (particularly the box, but also some of the cast shadow and dark accents in the figure itself).
I'm really pleased with the end result, which has a nice gesture, a good sense of the anatomy and a pretty strong likeness as well. The drawing got off to a good start, even taking into account that I dispensed with doing a preparatory gesture study. I find it always gives me a big boost in motivation if I can get the portrait shaping up well from the early stages - which happened with this drawing.
The thing which helped most of all, however, was taking the time during the first few days, to establish an effective light impression. Getting the background solidly established and working effectively really gave me a decent footing for all future work. Relatedly, nailing down the 'fall-off' of light over the figure itself sets the stage for an effective atmospheric drawing with a good sense of space.
The main areas to improve on, I think, are the feet and knees, which I feel could be sharpened up and given a more solid treatment.