Weekly Art Challenge: Crosshatching 1

A cross-hatched nose

The object of the exercise:

Crosshatching is a skill I have tried but made little progress with. I wanted to make a concerted effort to rectify that.

It seems to mostly be done with pen and ink. I like the idea of using pen and ink because it should stop me worrying about making mistakes.

Also one day I would like to have a go at etching and I think this technique would be useful for that.

The challenge

The following two tutorials from Alfonso Dunn seemed to give some good advice.

So this challenge is to watch the following two videos and  try the techniques.

Watch them all the way through first, then rewatch them, pausing frequently, and copying the examples.





My efforts

I was pleased with my efforts when I copied the examples as I worked through the videos.

Learning about crosshatching.

Learning about crosshatching.

What I learned

“Cross-hatching” can be just “hatching”! That is, you can just use parallel lines to represent a darker area. And there is also “contour-hatching” which (it turns out) is what Alphonso talks about in the main video here.

With contour-cross-hatching you think about the shape of the surface and use the contour lines to accentuate the volume of the surface.

The first lines follow the contours of the object , Alfonso calls them the “dominant”contour lines. Then you can use other directions of lines but avoid ones that contradict the shape of the form

Then there’s “stippling” when your hatching lines becomes dashed to indicate that it’s fading out.

Example of stippling

Example of stippling

There’s also something called a “brush pen” where you can vary the thickness of the stroke, getting thinner as you move to the lighter area. But I’m not sure if he was suggesting this for cross hatching. (I just googled “brush pen art”, not much cross-hatching in evidence but looks interesting, I might have to buy one to try out!)

Sometimes you need to keep your cross hatching lines close together, especially on smaller objects as if the lines are too far apart they may appear isolated and individual so not having the desired effect.

When using the technique be constantly asking yourself:

  • what’s the volume
  • what’s the curvature of the volume
  • what’s the position and orientation of the volume

This technique is for conveying light and shade.  Lines can also be used to convey how dark an object is and what the surface texture is like, in this exercise we were just thinking about light and shade.

Common mistakes/tips when doing crosshatching:

  • Don’t rush
  • Work alternately on different parts of your drawing to combat boredom
  • Be consistent, use uniform strokes. Uniformity in terms of: length of stroke, direction and thickness of line


The next step

When I tried to do my own cross-hatched nose from scratch I was less successful!

Bad crosshatching.

Bad crosshatching.

Not very good!

Obviously still some learning to do!

So I think I need to step back a bit and make it easier than a nose but harder than just the plain volumes.

So, I made a start on this by combining a sphere and cylinder.

Combining a sphere and a cylinder to practice crosshatching on more complex shapes.

Combining a sphere and a cylinder to practice crosshatching on more complex shapes.


I think this should be the next challenge, not noses or faces yet, they are hard, but some sort of easier curved surfaces. I will prepare something….



If you are on social media use the following hashtag to find/share your challenge pictures:



Posted on: September 15, 2017