Friday, January 2, 2009

Cross Hatching part 2 - Basic Technique

First of all, I want to congratulate all of you who thought about my challenge and are going to step up this year to making your own doodles. Doodling is a very key ingredient to even the largest, most complex works of art. Before I get into cross hatching some more I have a little business to cover.

Copic Certification, Anaheim
I am opening my class on Friday, Jan 23 up to the general public. Anyone who can come is welcome for the 23 only. Cost is $120 but you get about $80 worth of product to keep, so it ends up being a really great deal for an all-day class. Send an e-mail to Kris at or call her at 866-662-6742 to register. There are only a few spaces, so call right away.

Applications for Spring East Coast Venues will be going out next week, so get on our mailing list today! This includes Florida, New Orleans, and any confirmed locations that SallyLynn will be teaching on the East Coast thru March.

Tonite I will be giving a free lecture at 6:30 at the Eugene Public Library on the History of Manga and Manga trends in America. This is appropriate for teens or adults. I want to thank all the people who attended my teen workshop on drawing Manga earlier this week. The class was very full and very fun! I'll probably be teaching some more local classes this term, so look for Fine Art/Architecture workshops through DIVA and maybe another teen Manga class during school vacations at the Library.

Now, let's start the New Year by stepping out of your comfort zone and drawing something yourself- simple cross hatching.

Cross Hatching Basics
In my post a few days ago I talked about what cross hatching is and what it is trying to accomplish, today I'd like to get into technique. Cross hatching is both very simple and very tricky at the same time. The idea is easy, you draw lines and they make something look shadowed. The tricky part is practicing to keep a steady hand.

Drawing short lines will be easiest at first. Don't worry about making all the lines perfect, that will come with practice. Practice by doodling on anything handy. This is an exercize, not life or death, so relax and know that it's OK to make mistakes as you learn.

First, find an angle for your artwork that feels natural. For me, I am right handed and feel most comfortable making strokes that are straight out from mu chest, but with a slight right slant (1). To get another angle to my hatching I need to turn my paper so the lines I draw will be facing that same comfortable direction (2). Then, you need to practice, practice, practice. Try drawing lots of little areas that are cross hatched. You can do this with a mechanical pencil, you can do it with a cheap ballpoint pen, whatever you have handy, just try drawing hatching marks.

2 Layer Cross Hatching Technique
You need to practice putting marks that line up. It is easier to make the edge that you start from even, and let your pen gradually lift up at the end of the stroke. Turn your paper so that when you are adding the marks, the crisp edge feels natural to your hand and you work from the edge, out.

When you come back in to add the second layer of hatching, also work from the starting edge out, or it looks a little strange. Notice my example. The trailing edges meet up nicely and look smooth. The second example looks strange because one trailing edge fades, but the other is crisp. If I were filling in an area between two outside lines this wouldn't matter as much, but on an open area it doesn't work.

Practice until you can confidently add hatching that meets up with a line. Soon you'll be adding hatch marks to all sorts of things (squares on reports, lines on your notepad). This sort of doodle practice is very important to build relaxed, natural hand-eye coordination. NO STRESS! Why should you draw and doodle if it's going to be stressful? relax.

Inking Pen Hatch Marks
I'm usually making cross hatching on artwork that needs to be scanned in, so I tend to work with 0.1 or 0.05 mm multiliners. I made the mistake once of doing a large, beautiful, very detailed illustration with cross hatching in a 0.03 mm pen. When I scanned it in, the hatching was too fine for my scanner to pick up, particularly since I had to shrink the final artwork. All my hard work cross hatching was wasted! Now I draw slightly thicker and not quite so detailed.

As you can see from these examples, there are lots of looks you can get from each pen size. When I draw, I work with a couple sheets of paper under my work at any time. This gives me a slight cushion so that I can push harder to get thicker or thinner lines from the same pen. On fine sizes like the 0.03 or 0.05mm pen, I would NOT push hard however. Those tips are sturdy for what they are, but they require a very light hand. Most people can get fine enough lines with a 0.1 or 0.2 mm inking pen.

Look at how much thicker the 0.35 looks when compared to the 0.03 pen. The 1.0 pen looks really clunky and thick next to the finer sizes. I would probably not use the 1.0 by itself for hatching unless I were working on something very large and not too detailed. If you look back at the examples of the different pen sizes you'll see how layering once, twice, and a third time gives you progressively darker tones.

You can always layer different pen sizes to get even darker tones. Here is an example of regular cross-hatching, with a 1.0 pen thrown in to really darken up the final edge area. It doesn't look so clunky when layered like this, unlike when it is used by itself. The circle really looks dimensional and shadowed now.

For my final example today I've taken a simple chair from Lockhart Stamp Company and I want it to look like it came straight out of my old Alice in Wonderland book. It's so easy to make this chair look more detailed than it really is. I know that if I make a mistake I can always stamp it again.

I'm using a really fine 0.05 mm pen because the picture is so small, but you could probably use a 0.1 or 0.2 mm pen and it would still look OK. I start with the first level of shadow in the areas I know will be darkest, then I come back with a second level.

Now my chair looks like an antique illustration from around 1900, not just a nice garden chair. I know Karen won't mind if Alice comes and sits in this beautiful vinatge chair. Look at your own image collection and see which ones would look cool turned into vintage drawings simply by adding a few lines.


  1. Can I then color an image using Copics after doing the cross hatching?

  2. No problem. Multiliners won't bleed with the markers.

  3. tag you're it!!! check my blog to see an award I have for you!

  4. Thanks Marianne, love visiting your blog and this post inspired me to try something different with a new stamp! (here if you want a peep). Thank you!