Art Lesson: Hatching

There are only a few elements one can use to make a successful pencil or ink drawing. These are line, shape and value. The way in which you make value is with hatching or shading. The act of hatching is drawing lines or patterns of distinct density to show value. The more hatch marks in a small area, the darker the value. This is especially true with pen and ink where you cannot soften the line by applying less pressure, as you can with a pencil. There are several types of hatching one can use to create a drawing.

The first is straight hatching. In this manner, hatch marks are all drawn in the same direction across the paper. Consistency is important so that any change in value represent a change on the object.

A second is cross hatching. In this instance, hatch marks are made in two different directions. One set of marks goes in one direction and then another layer of marks is drawn over the first in a different direction. By adding the second layer, one can more quickly darken an area then with straight hatching. One thing to be careful of is drawing your lines perpendicular to each other. When perpendicular, the lines begin to look like a grid, or screen, and flattens the image instead of creating volume and form, which is the general purpose of value.

The third type of hatching is contour hatching. Contour hatching is the act of drawn hatch marks in a manner that mimics the surface of the object. On a spherical surface the marks will curve around the object. On a smooth surface the hatch marks will be straight. On an undulating object the marks will undulate. It can sometimes be confusing to figure out which direction to draw your hatch marks. It takes some experimenting.

The final technique discussed here is stippling. This is the act of drawing with small dots. The more dots in an area, the darker the value. Stippling takes much longer than the other forms of hatching, but can have a very stunning effect. Expert stipplers create small round dots. If you zoom in on my dots you will see that many are not perfectly round, but have a tail or are small marks. Using a technical pen can help in making round dots.

Play around with hatching to figure how to add value and beauty to your drawings.