I continue to outline the figure until I it is complete. I do this for the purpose of setting boundaries prior to getting into adding shadows that will be smoothed and smudged later on. Some artists would do the shadowing first, and then would add in the contours. Some would leave out the contour lines altogether, seeking a more photorealistic approach to a finished drawing. It's a matter of personal preference, and deciding what your overall goal is. In this case, the outlining of the figure serves to offer me a guideline to follow, which I like.
CONTOUR LINE STAGE CONTINUED:
I usually take the contouring of the figure to a finish. Some of the outlining might be lost during the next stage, and might require some punching up here and there.
5) ADDING LIGHT AND SHADOW. In the next stage of the drawing, I will determine a light source, adding in some shadows to define the form. I'm also going to further develop the background elements. I've determined that my light source will be coming from a cavern entrance "off-camera" slightly in front of, and just off to the right of Batgirl. I will concern myself with spotting shadows on her body in areas that are in opposition to the light source, and I will try to keep in mind cast shadows as well. I will have a minor secondary reflective light source just overhead that won't come into play much, but this reflective light will factor on her cowl just a little.
Good lighting is important because shadows can be used to define the human form, to add depth and dimension in your drawing, and can evoke mood and atmosphere. I want all of these things in my drawing.
I want to approach the shadowing in a soft manner. Solid, spotted black shadows are very dramatic, but can often be very harsh looking on a female figure. I find a graytone approach better for maintaining a feminine grace and beauty, so I will make sure that when all is said and done, the shadows are handled in a soft and smooth manner, with graduation of light and shadow being my objective in the end. At this stage though, I'll be using a soft graphic to block in the areas of shadow on Batgirl's body. I'm not concerned with smoothing anything just yet. I'm just trying to figure out where the shadows will be, and how the shapes might look on the figure.
I'm also not going to draw in Batgirl's pupils just yet. In fact, that'll be the last thing I do. This is to ensure that her eyes--the finest details of the drawing--won't be accidentally smudged or compromised during the working stages of the drawing. So for now, she'll have to be "zombie Batgirl" until we get to the end. Don't worry. She'll have pupils when the graphite dust clears.
SHADOW MAPPING STAGE:
6. SMOOTH OPERATOR. After the shapes are blocked-in, I am free to concentrate on smoothing out the shadows. Remember those old Hollywood films from the '30s and '40s? If you aren't, check some of them out on Turner Classic Movies. You'll notice in those old films that the starlets in those movies are always well-lighted with a very soft focus lighting. This sort of lighting was used to enhance the beauty of the actress. While Noir-ish stark black and white shadows were dramatically great, studios avoiding lighting female leads in such a way most of the time, finding that solid black lighting often obscured the beauty of the actresses, or made their faces seem older or a bit more harsh. When you're trying to sell the public on the beauty of your actress, you want to play up her strengths. This is a lesson I try to take to my own artwork when I'm drawing female characters. Femininity should be about softness, gracefulness, and elegance in my mind, and I feel it's important to make a distinction between men and women when I'm drawing. I don't want anyone having to guess at the sex of one of my characters, unless such ambiguity is specifically called for. So, to ensure that Batgirl is all woman, this is the phase of the drawing that I begin to tone down the pencil shadows. I use either a paper towel or a smudging stump to do such effects. In this case, I used that latter, buffing out the pencil line until I achieve the desired smoothness I want. I will go back in a few times and add more pencils to darken in certain areas to ensure that I have a good graduation of dark to light in the shadowing. I will smooth things along the way, add more pencils, smooth. Rinse. Repeat. Slowly, the shadows will build up to the desired values of light to dark that I want to see.
SMOOTHING AND SOFTENING STAGE:
Which brings me to...