Drawing – Hatching Style

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With this subtle hatching style of drawing, the artist uses the white of the paper and the black of the ink or biro to create different tones between the lightest light and the darkest dark.

Individual lines of ink (or biro) are laid over one another in various directions creating a mesh-like effect to show shadow and depth.  Working in pen and ink limits you to the use of line alone for developing tone and look at the fantastic result.  A limiting media forces you to compromise the end result can be something quite magical!

Here is an exercise:

  • Choose a subject that appeals to you, it can be something from around the house or a well lit photograph will do.
  • Sketch in the subject roughly with a 2B pencil keeping your marks light.
  • Put in the general outlines with ink or biro.
  • Establish which direction the light is coming from (in this case the top right.)
  • Begin to hatch in  the mid-tone shadow areas keeping the pen on the paper and using one hatching stroke at a time.  It is preferable to use three tones only and to work from light to dark as below:

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Continue to create the rough outlines as you go then proceed with hatching in the mid- tones.

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Use a hatching stroke to define muscles.

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Working outside the figure put in broad strokes for the background shadow working in one direction.

Leave areas of white paper to define where the light hits the subject.

Change the direction of the hatching line to put in the middle tone shadows.

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Cross-hatch again over shadow areas to create the darkest and densest tone.

Here are a couple of really interesting line drawings which are nothing without the magic of hatching.

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Notice how the curved hatching on the horse above gives a three dimensional effect and creates the rounded form of the animal

You will find excellent hatching style drawings in the work of Vincent van Gogh.

Reference Books were: “How To Draw and Sketch” by Jenny Rodwell, New Burlington Books 1987, “Drawing in Pen and Ink” by Angus Scott, Guild Publishing 1985


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