When I start on my journey to create a character I tend to start with a general idea of what world my character would live in. In this case, it was a heavy metal themed universe.... if heavy metal was dropped kicked in the face by death metal and finished off by black Norwegian thrash core..........anyways......I tend to lay down some silhouettes to get a feel for the character and how he/she/it would move and interact in a physical space. I do these quite fast, focusing on the feel of the character and not neccicarly the details.
Then the nerd rage takes over and MUST give the character a backstory. This helps me get a feel for who the character is and what personality and role they will fulfill, and yes I still have no actual clue at this point what the character will look like. Its still a pretty shape with a past at this point.
Heres some sketches of what I thought my characters face looked like. Nothings permanent at this stage just throwing ideas on a page. Once I like it, all throw it into photoshop and do a quick greyscale.