This is Step Five of "7 Steps of A Painting". Here are steps One: Inspiration, Two: Computer Design, Three: Value Sketch and Four: Color Studies.
Now that you have excellent reference material, a design and composition plan, and a color scheme, you are ready to start your drawing. There are two ways that I use to draw my image onto the watercolor paper: freehand drawing and trace/freehand combo.
When I paint from life, I have no choice but to draw freehand. This means I am looking at my model and drawing what I see without the aid of a grid or other tools. Strong drawing skills can only be acquired with practice. I also draw simple figures and cityscapes freehand.
For my large, complicated designs, I do a combo of tracing and freehand drawing. Watercolor paper can only withstand so much erasing without damaging the paper. To avoid that, I first print out my figures the exact size I want for the painting. I cut them out and arrange them on my paper. I trace an outline of the figures and then draw in the details. This saves considerable time and erasing because I know I at least have my figures in the right place before I finish the drawing.
I draw my images onto 260 or 300 pound Arches cold press paper. I use the rougher side of the 260, and the smoother side of the 300. I use an HB or 2B pencil and a kneaded eraser.
Below is a new painting I have drawn up, ready to go!