Learn how to draw cross hatching!

Cross hatching is a linear drawing technique that can create texture, light, shading and dimension by drawing lines both close together and apart. Hatching is when the lines all go the same way, cross hatching when they go in 2 or more opposite directions. It is one of many drawing techniques that can be used by itself or combined with other drawing techniques as well. 

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519), who was obsessed with drawing the human body is a classic example of a cross hatching artist. His drawings were very scientific and were mainly of the anatomy of the body, along with astronomy, botany, and palaeontology. 


Self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, chalk drawing, 1512; in the Palazzo Reale, Turin, Italy.


Human fetus, pen-and-ink studies by Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1510.

Let's start cross hatching!

We are going to be discussing cross hatching and using small dashes rather than longer lines. The technique works well with a wide variety of mediums, like pen & ink, graphite or coloured pencil, pastels and even painting. The technique can also be used in printmaking, particularly etching. Think of it drawing parallel lines to trick the eye into seeing tone, depth and highlights. It is all about how far apart and how close together the cross hatching occurs, to how it shows depth and light areas.

Hatching and cross hatching does require a little skill, just like when you were learning to write. It takes a lot of practice and concentration because it can be very easy to get a little scribbly if you are not focusing on your drawing.

Pears are my go to, whenever I am teaching a technique or comparing art supplies. If you want to see a great comparison about 4 of the top coloured pencil brands, please click here. So naturally, I was going to do a pear to show you how to bring cross hatching into your drawings and mixed media paintings.

Helpful Tip!

If you or your child are keen on your art and improving your skills, always have an art journal for these types of exercises. Genuine art journals will be around 120gsm cartridge paper which should also be acid free. Acid free means that the paper will not change colour as the journal ages. Quality cartridge paper journals are not expensive and will become a beautiful memory in years to come. Of course, you can grab one today from Mrs Red’s online art shop by clicking here.

This exercise can be done in a sharp graphite pencil or a fine nib drawing pen. If you are using a drawing pen, take care of how much pressure you apply to the nib. Not a lot is needed, and you can split or break the nib if drawing to hard.

Tonal Scales

Draw a graphite tonal scale first, as a warm up exercise. The straight below it try and copy it but using cross hatching instead.

Once you feel confident with your tonal scales, draw up a pear (or even a circle will do) and start cross hatching. It is good to have a greyscale image to look at for reference when doing this. If you can, print your reference photo off in black and white (greyscale) as this makes it easier to see where the darks, lights and shadows have to go. Because you are cross hatching in one colour, say a black drawing pen, you don't need a colour reference. 

Keep going until you have successfully filled in the light and dark area’s and don’t forget shadows. Your objects need to sit on something as this gives the drawing more depth as well.

If you are wanting to teach your kids this project or you are a school teacher looking for an art project to do in your class, then please click here to grab the printable art lesson on cross hatching. It contains more detail, plus some pear templates and further ideas to try once you have completed the pear.

And if you enjoy your art but feel you lack inspiration or need someone to push you along, please check out Mrs Red’s Online Art Classes. They are monthly online art projects, for ages 6 – 106 and everyone receives a downloadable workbook and art supply list at beginning of month, along with videos to watch, art skill exercises to do, a finished project to complete and two LIVE Zoom calls with Mrs Red to track your progression. You don’t have to be in Australia to do the online classes either. Mrs Red can cater to everyone and will create a better time for students in opposite time zones to Queensland.

Click here for more info on the Online Art Classes.


Mrs Red