Hatching, Cross-Hatching, and Hand Control

Hatching and Cross-hatching

Quoting from Anthony Ryder’s The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing, “Hatching is a shading method that employs lines in series, arranged in shaped progressions, and either parallel or radiating. Hatching is a rhythmic activity; the pencil moves like a sewing-machine needle. The trick is to get lines evenly spaced, gradually increasing or decreasing in length, and in the right value range and progression…Cross-hatching is hatching on top of hatching, with the layers of hatching crossing at an angle. There’s no limit to the number of layers if cross-hatching that can be applied in the drawing. To “mist” a drawing with a value, cross-hatching can be done very softly, as if you were applying washes of value with a brush rather than individual lines with a pencil. A finished drawing is a composite of many such “mistings” of value, carefully fitted into the contour.”

I love Anthony Ryder’s book and his description of hatching and cross-hatching techniques. His use of “misting” to describe the shading method really hits home. That’s what shading is all about, layers and layers of mistings. You should check out his figure drawing book if you haven’t. His masterful shading is very inspirational.


How to Improve Your Hand Control

To be able to do hatching and cross-hatching, you need to have good hand control. Many drawing books seems to glaze over this area. I suppose we take hand control for granted as it’s something so basic to all artist. But if you’re a beginner artist, I’m sure you struggle with hand control. Your shading might be inconsistent, or too monotone and dull. You probably have uneven shading on large areas. It’s a tough thing to do, and I still struggle with it sometimes, especially on large areas. But with practice, you’ll begin to have a much better feel of your pencil rubbing against the surface of the paper. Soon you’ll be able to perform minute pressure adjustments to get the correct “misting.” So here is a couple of exercise that you can do to improve your hand control. I know this will help if you’re a beginner artist.

Hatching, Cross-Hatching, and Hand Control Exercise Video

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