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Learn to draw: Hatching methods for the beginner

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Anything can be drawn with a pencil. Using different ways to hold the pencil and various shading techniques, you can create a wide variety of lines and strokes. How you hold your pencil affects the look of the resulting lines and strokes. The type of tip of your pencil is also important, as is the type of lead you use. Try drawing with different lead shapes to see what you can achieve with a regular pencil.

Painting with a pencil

When you use painterly strokes, your drawing is perceived in a very different way. Think of the pencil as a brush and move the whole hand, not just the 'brush' pencil, when drawing. To achieve this effect, try using the under-the-palm position of the pencil between your thumb and forefinger and draw on the side of the lead (see the second image below). If you rotate the pencil in your hand every few strokes, you won't have to sharpen it often. The larger the lead, the wider the stroke will be. The softer the lead, the more scenic effect you will get.

Ways to hold pencil when drawing

When drawing lines, it is not necessary to always use a sharp pencil tip. Sometimes a more interesting result can be achieved with a rounded pencil tip. If the pencil has a large diameter lead, the effect obtained with a blunt tip will be even more noticeable. Play with different types and shapes of lead to become familiar with the different kinds of lines they create. Think of and complete types of lines and strokes using both a sharp and a dull pencil tip. Practice the strokes below to loosen up a bit.

As you draw different squiggles, you will find that some of them resemble the texture of various surfaces or some kind of imagery. For example, small checkmarks resemble a flock of high-flying birds, while wavy lines are great for drawing water.

Drawing and hatching with a sharp pencil tip

First, draw a series of parallel lines. Try drawing them vertically, then at an angle. Make some of them curved, making short and long strokes. Then make wavy lines at an angle and then make rows of short vertical strokes. Try drawing a spiral, followed by groups of short, curved lines. Then practice making lines that gradually become thinner. Then draw rows of circles, checkmarks, and semicircles.

Methods of drawing and hatching with a sharp pencil tip

Drawing and hatching with a blunt pencil

It is very helpful to do the same exercise with a rounded, blunt lead. Even if you use the same hand positions and stroke types, the result will be very different. Take a close look at the examples below and compare them to those above. The strokes were the same, but the drawing made with a blunt pencil looks completely different. You can create a rounded pencil tip by rubbing it on a piece of sandpaper or rough paper.

Methods of drawing and hatching with a blunt pencil

How to use hatching in your drawing. Start simple

First, experiment with vertical, horizontal, and curved strokes. Perform them close enough to one another, first pressing hard on the pencil. Then, with each stroke, reduce the pressure on the pencil.

How to use hatching in your drawing. Start simple

Changing the pressure on the pencil

Randomly cover the area with strokes, sometimes changing the pressure on the pencil. Strokes should be performed with free movements.

Using small hatching strokes

As a first example, make small circles. They resemble the skin of some animals. The second example (on the right) uses short dark and light strokes in a checkerboard pattern reminiscent of a stone or brickwork pattern.

Releasing pressure when hatching

Apply long vertical strokes, varying the pressure on the pencil with each stroke, until tall grass is formed (left). A slightly looser movement can be used when drawing water (right). First, make short spiral movements with your hand (right up). Then make wavy movements, changing the pressure on the pencil (right below).

Hatching methods. Developing your hatching style

Many of the great artists of the past can now be identified by how they executed lines and hatching. Van Gogh's drawings are reminiscent of calligraphy, the name Seurat has become synonymous with pointillism, and Giacometti was famous for his scribbles. You can, too, develop your own style of drawing as you get better.

Using cross strokes for hatching

If you like a drawing with a lot of fine detail, this cross-hatching is perfect for you. The density of the shadow is determined by the distance between the strokes.

Hatching methods. Developing your hatching style

Hatching with rounded doodles

If you're using these rounded, loose strokes, chances are you like to experiment. Such loops convey mood rather than depict precise details.

Hatching with rounded doodles

Hatching with small dots

This technique is called "pointillism" - the picture is drawn with many small dots. Make dots of different sizes to create a different sense of depth and shadow. Pointillism requires great precision work and experience.

Hatching with small dots

Imitation of brush strokes

You can create the illusion of brush strokes by using short, broad lines. This gives the feeling of painting but allows you to control the movement of the pencil in the same way you would with shading.

Hatching with imitation of brush strokes

Hatching is what takes the blunt drawing sketch to the final drawing stage. Take a look at the below example.

It is hatching that gives the drawing the volume, the highlight and shades, luminosity, texture, and the feel of the object. Practicing hatching takes time, but it definitely will take your drawing to the next level.

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