When creating a character reference sheet, you draw the figure upright, and perhaps do a full turnaround. But usually you want your poses to be dynamic, or at the very least interesting. This is where gesture drawing comes in. A gesture drawing is made very fast, you shouldn't spend more than two minutes on it. Fast, but not frantic.
Drawing is usually done from the arm, using the elbow and the shoulder. The pencil/charcoal/burned match is held in an overhand grip. This grip works even better on a slanted drawing board, or an easel.
There are several reasons to begin with gesture drawing. You can do it as a warming-up exercise. It can be a study of a life subject that isn't posing for you, and you need to get the essence of the pose or the motion down on paper quickly. You can do a few of them to familiarize yourself with a subject. Or you want to breathe more life into your characters. Whatever the reason, starting with a gesture sketch is usually a good idea.
This is a point where a lot of things you've learned so far come together. Your skills in measuring lengths and angles by sight, and finding the important lines allow you to capture the proportions. Simplifying to cubes and cylinders helps to get a feeling for mass and depth. Knowledge of anatomy allows you to refine the sketch even after your model is gone.
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