Thank you kitten
well, here's my two pennyworth of advice then - I did my drawings from life, which meant using something that you could get marks down fast
I used charcoal at the zoo to draw the orang utans, giraffes (incredibly
difficult as their faces are so complex!) and the gorillas. It was winter so i could get close as they were in the indoor part of their enclosures for warmth so i was literally inches from them.
With charcoal you can change it as necessary with just a brush of your hand to erase (I get filthy when drawing as you can imagine
). I don't fix it until it is complete. Not all your drawings will work as the animals may not return to the same position enough for you to finish a sketch, so i keep several on the go, working back into each as they go back to the same position. You are learning more about their character, bone structure, movements, characteristics etc though by working this way.
With charcoal i also always have an ink rubber (must be the hard grey ink rubber - putty rubbers IMO are useless things!) and then you can draw clear white marks through the charcoal to put lights back in.
The sketches of Rosie (my cat) were really fast, done with watercolour (I was in the middle of another painting but just grabbed my sketchbook to have a go) so they aren't finished pieces but they do get something of her character.
If you have a dog or cat they are a perfect model as you know them so well - just draw them again and again, thinking about the bone structure under the fur so that they are 3 dimensional. Sleeping animals are best to start with as you have a bit more time.
I absolutely love charcoal to work with as it has such a huge variety of marks - thin delicate lines, broad dark lines, patches of colour, smudges, clear hard marks - it can do them all.
I hope something here is helpful - good luck - post your results?