I will first start out with a series of rough sketches to get a feel for what you are looking for. Next will be a tight sketch after any corrections have been made. . And then finally onto the final illustration.
In terms of payment ,I prefer to be paid 50% after final sketches are approved, and 50% after the final art is approved. Each job is different so I am flexible so it works for both of us.
I do have a standard contract that I work with, but I'm willing to consider signing a contract that a client uses.