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How to Shade with Hatching and Cross-hatching

November 15, 2009

charcoal-hatchingHatching is a fun way to let loose and shade your drawings in a different way. Hatches are small parallel lines that can be used to create depth and volume. Done well, hatching can produce a likeness as realistic as smooth shading, but it is much more expressive and can communicate emotions and atmosphere.

You don’t need anything special for hatching. It can be done with pencil; it can also be done with pen, charcoal, coloured pencils, pastels… you get the point. Basically anything that makes a mark will work!

Cross-hatching is another technique using hatch marks. This is when you use the same short, parallel lines, but you’re adding another layer of perpendicular lines on top. You end up with a series of crosses. Both techniques can be used to produce some very cool results!




How do you create value? For lighter values, make your marks less dense. For darker values, make your marks more layered and closer together. You can also try using pens of different sizes or pencils of different hardnesses to help with your values.

As with any shading, the key is getting a gradual transition.




Hatching can be done with parallel lines going in any direction: vertical, horizontal, or diagonal (as in the example). Hatching and cross-hatching can also be done using curved lines. This is more difficult, but it can be a great way to help describe the contours of a round shape.




Let’s try some hatching, using the sphere as our example again. I’m using pen, but you can try out any media you like!

Start by putting a few hatch marks around the highlight, without going inside the highlight. Make these marks far apart, as this is your lightest value.



Fill in the rest of the mid-tone area and the reflection, making your marks gradually closer together as you approach the shadow.



Fill in your shadow now, making your marks closest together in the middle of the shape. Make sure you have a smooth transition between the shadow and the mid-tones.


To do this in cross-hatching, simply add the perpendicular marks! Go ahead and try something a little more complicated! It’s not all that different from your normal shading.

A few tips to remember… If you have a large area of flat shadow, resist the urge to colour it in. It might be quicker, but it won’t have the same texture as the rest of your drawing. The same goes for any lines. Draw lines with a series of tiny hatch marks to make it consistent with the whole piece.


From → Drawing

  1. As an amateur comic book artist I use the cross hatching technique quite frequently and I have become a dab hand at it now, so much so that I can’t seem to draw in any other way…oh well!

    Great art articles you have here! good job I subscribed!!

    Cheers now!


    • Hey Wayne, thanks for stopping by! Maybe you’ll have to try your hand at some of my other drawing techniques!!

  2. matt permalink

    Thanks a lot your info helped

  3. this was a very helpful tip for my daughter who was stuck on her art homework ,now we knwo where 2 come if there is any problems.
    yours sincerly,
    Anna Fitzgerald

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