This Hatching Exercise Will Make Your Drawings Better


Do you want to add dimension and texture to your drawings? Don’t answer that...of course you do. Enter: hatching. This simple technique uses small clusters of lines to add shadows and perspective to a sketch. And it's totally easy to learn! To start, print out several copies of an outline of any object or shape (we used a hand). Then, test each of the six hatching techniques below on a different image. You'll find practice makes perfect.

Try these six forms of hatching

1. Parallel hatching

Parallel hatching is one of the most basic forms of hatching, and a very effective way of demonstrating lightness and darkness. It consists of rows of parallel lines placed closely together. Anywhere you put hatching in a drawing, that area will appear darker or in shadow, and anywhere you don’t will appear as a highlight. All of the hatching is vertical in the example below, but it can be at any angle. Notice that some hatch marks are closer together, such as along the top of the index finger. When you increase the density of a collection of hatch marks, the area will appear darker, which can also be useful for creating value variations.

2. Contour hatching

Rather than simple parallel lines, contour hatching is when the lines follow the contours of the subject. Here, the hatch marks go along the curves of the hand. This method of hatching greatly enhances the sense of volume and three-dimensionality of anything you are drawing, in addition to providing value.

3. Crosshatching

This is such a well-known method that nearly every artist has encountered it, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. After laying down one pass of hatch marks, another set of hatch marks are drawn on top, usually in a perpendicular or near-perpendicular direction to the first set. This method is one of the quickest and most effective ways to vary the density and darken the values in your hatching. As you can see, it creates a richer overall feel to the drawing. Cross hatching can be applied as simple straight lines, just like parallel hatching, or it can follow the contours of the subject as below.

4. Fine crosshatching

This is the richest and most subtle form of crosshatching, and it might even read as a tonal or pencil-shaded drawing from far away. The method is the same as above, with several layers of cross hatch marks rather than just two, to create even more nuanced differences in tone and value. A fine-line pen is the best tool for fine crosshatching, as the close marks will appear to blend together from a distance.

5. “Basket” or “woven” hatching

This is a very striking and graphic style of hatching when used correctly. Rather than all parallel marks, this method uses short sets of parallel marks in one direction, then an adjacent group of parallel marks in an almost perpendicular direction. The effect looks woven when done well, and they can also be crosshatched to add additional density.

6. “Tick” hatching

This is another very graphic style of hatching, consisting of very short parallel strokes or “ticks.” Because the marks are so small and short, you can almost pile them on top of each other to create density. This style often works best with a thicker pen.

See how to create the illusion of tone and texture in your drawings with hatching. Charles offers detailed instruction on how to apply hatching to an apple and the rounded and flat planes of geometric shapes to achieve striking -- and realistic-looking -- results.
Continue to explore the complexity and texture of your value studies, starting with the multidirectional basket-weave method, which provides a unique and solid quality. Next, watch as seemingly aimless scrawls add interest to negative spaces, and a series of tiny dots adds incredible detail.
Master the foundational drawing skills every beginning artist should know.
with Patricia Watwood
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This Hatching Exercise Will Make Your Drawings Better