These are the steps I used for a pencil drawing of Mistophiles.

Rough Sketch
rough sketch
Once I have decided on a composition, either through visualizing it or doing thumbnail drawings, I start with the rough sketch on sketchbook paper.  In the rough sketch I try to capture the movement of the piece, the basic details, and I fine-tune the composition.  I don't bother with shading, except to rough out light and dark areas.  It doesn't look like much, but it's the framework for the finished drawing.  I like to work on slightly larger paper for the rough sketch - in this case, 11x14 for a 9x12 finished drawing. 
Starting the drawing
starting the finished piece
 Once I have finished with the rough sketch (and it will sometimes take many rough sketches to get the drawing as I want it) I move on to transfering the important parts of the rough sketch to a piece of drawing paper using a lighttable and a light pencil.  Drawing paper is heavier and more forgiving than sketchbook paper, but sketchbook paper is cheaper, so I use that for the roughs.  You can see the faint outlines.  I make ajustments, correcting the outline as needed.  In this case, I moved the pouch to the side (looked too much like a fanny pack) and I worked on the details of the tree leaf poncho as well as finishing the staff, which didn't fit in my rough sketch.
When the outline is settled, I can start to shade the piece, using the outline as a guide, but being careful not to rely on the lines too much.  Before I start shading I think of where I want the light source to be (in this case, upper left) and how harsh I want it.  The brighter the light, the more contrast will be created.  Shadows will be very dark and highlights very white.   This is important to keep in mind as you are working.  
This is just a detailed look at the head in the above drawing.  You can see the cross-hatching better.  I usually layer lots of pencil strokes until I get the value I want.  In this case, I am working up to a dark value for black fur, but it's important to have the underlayers to give the head form, rather than just grabbing my 9b pencil and coloring it black.  Even black forms have variations in light and dark that make them three dimensional.  
finished drawing - closeup
finished head
This is a section of the finished drawing, slightly larger than in real life.  You can see that after lots of layering, I achieved a dark value for the fur without losing the highlights.  The 'veins' in the leaf-poncho were easier than they look.  I shaded the entire poncho very lightly, then drew the veins in with my rubber eraser.  Then, as I continued to shade the leaf, I left the vein areas white.  
One of the things that changed was his eyes - I was perfectly happy with his original eyes, but my friend pointed out that oracle cats are supposed to have large eyes, so I made the eye slightly larger. 
The entire process, start to finish, took me about 8-10 hours of solid drawing.  This was actually pretty fast - normally I do more than one rough sketch.  

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