Cross Hatching Tutorial


I am often asked how I create the tonal scale in my drawings with some people even saying ‘looks like a printer did it, innit,’ so in this tutorial I will be showing how I use the Cross Hatching technique in my drawings and sketches. The technique varies widely between different artists and I even use different techniques for different drawings.

Cross Hatching Example

In this Tutorial I will be starting a sketch from scratch to create the final drawing (above). As you can see I have decided to use a thick black pen for this tutorial as it shows a lot better the technique I am trying to demonstrate.

The Basics Of Cross Hatching

First of all here is a small guide to show how the Cross Hatching technique works. As you can see the squares get progressively darker the more strokes there are in it, innit. First of all I covered the whole rectangle with diagonal lines exactly the same as in the lightest square. The lines should be parallel and evenly spaced, this takes some practice to do but you will find you can improve very quickly after a short amount of time as your hand gets used to it.

example of Cross Hatching

After this I started from the second square drawing more diagonal lines but in a different direction all covering the rest of the rectangle. This process is repeated for each square until the last one has all the lines drawn throughout making it the darkest. It is good practice having a go at this and it will help to gain a better understanding of how cross hatching works.

Preparing Your Drawing

Now to start with the drawing. I have sketched out this image using pencil to show the rough guide lines to where I will be putting the using the cross hatching to give the image depth. My sketches are always very rough and leave room for adjustments while putting the drawing together.

Outline Sketch

As you can see here I have drawn shapes as guidelines to show where the lightest parts of the Shapes to show reflection in the face.image are, these will have no lines drawn into them and represent light areas of the face, they normally show where light is reflecting of a face (or whatever you are drawing). To do this you need to think how light would reflect off the surface of the image and what in general are the most protruding parts of the image. I have drawn mine on the most forefront parts of the nose, lips and teeth.

Your First Layer Of Hatching

We now start drawing lines over all parts of the face where there are no highlights, just do a single layer of lines to cover the general shape of the face, more lines will be added to create more depth in the face later.

Image showing the first layer of Cross Hatching

In the next sketch I have filled in the darkest parts just to help show the layout of the drawing, this does not necessarily need to be done at this stage. But in a sketch similar to mine make sure you fill in all the black areas as it is easy to miss out parts like in between the teeth.I have also filled in the eyes.

Sketch with black areas filled

It is now time to put our second layer of line work on the sketch, I have added this line work around the areas that I think are going to be darkest. I have put it very generally around these areas so that when I add the next layer it will have a sort of gradient into the darkest parts. This helps to show form and depth in images and the more gradual a gradient the more depth your image has, to make it more gradual you will need to add more layers of line work, each time starting closer to the darkest area.

Image showing the second layer of line work

Adding Depth To Your Drawing

I have added this second layer of lines in places where you would expect shadow so under the chin, under and around the bottom of the lip andNose sketch showing 2nd layer of line work around the nostrils. This will help the make the image look more 3 dimensional and stop the nostrils from just appearing but make it look like they are actually getting deeper.

In this Sketch (below) the image is almost complete, I have added a third layer of cross hatching in the darkest places, I have also added a forth and fifth layer in very dark places like under the lip and at the base of the teeth, these areas are almost black and sometimes it is worth while to just fill them in instead of cross hatching 5 or 6 times. The main reason to cross hatch these areas though is to make sure there is a gradient going into the darkest areas  from the lighter places. I have also added a thick black line around the sketched out design (not including highlight areas).

Sketch with 3rd, 4th and 5th layer of cross hatching

I have also rubbed out the pencil sketch areas as these are not needed anymore, this helps to show how the highlight areas work. This is a very rough sketch and took me about an hour to do so with a lot more care and attention you can get very good results.

Nearly 90% of my drawings contain cross hatching, often in different styles. It is very easy to get the hang of and gives drawings an edge which stands out from others. But a lot of practice will help you to find your own style. Below are some examples of cross hatching in my work. For more examples visit our Fine Art page and watch our Youtube videos to see cross hatching in progress and view the images to see finely detailed cross hatching at work.

Let me know what you thought of this tutorial. If it helped you and any questions you may have in the comment section below!

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Drawing of Ugo Monye using the cross hatching technique

Ugo Monye – Example of Cross Hatching

See Cross Hatching in progress in this video below. To see more like this visit our Youtube Channel.

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  4 Responses to “Cross Hatching Tutorial”

  1. thank you for your tutorial but how about a pot how do u crosshatch it to show texture also could show us how to crosshatch body parts

  2. I have beem trying to find an explanation for cross hatching, and you have made one that makes the most sense. Thank you.

  3. I’m sitting in art class right now and this finally. makes sense! thank you#

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