[ A+ ] /[ A- ]

About line for tone & value,
cross hatching, contours, and to follow surface or not.

In the this post, I introduce basic feathering, hatching, cross hatching & basket weaves as part of your regular practice regime. We’re going to explore hear how you can use them. The idea using them to do things like depict texture, and describing the contours of the surface of your subject. The art above is predominantly done with hatching, below you’ll find examples of cross hatching and other techniques. The Hatching by Bernie Wrightson is masterful application of the technique to define tone and form with line.

The main reason you should be doing the pattern exercises is that the control and confidence it will build in you will let you keep the lines in linear tonal techniques [hatchingcrosshatchingcontour-hatchingscumblingpointillism or stippling, accent lines & etc] constant when you wished, and controlled when they are more organic, allowing you to use them to describe value and form, simply by varying density and thickness. Letting them suggest the textural nature to the object, it’s contours in space beyond the edges, or abstractly even nuance in the picture plane.

One example i gave was the dent in the barrel? Basically using variable width feathering to suggest the light and shadow cast as it plays across an imperfect surface. Seeing that, Milé Murtanovski, a painter friend [recently had the pleasure of visiting his art retreat Small Pond for an afternoon] sent me this link thinking you’d all enjoy. It’s perfect really, the spiraling wiggly line follows its own contour, its width and proximity to its previous path changes to create the image we see when we step back.

Line for value!

Today when you look at modern printing, it often uses this same optical illusion, just at much higher resolution. Below are 4 different applications of hatching, specifically here, crosshatching i’ve sourced from the intertubes that will help illustrate my big idea for this post. To follow the surface or not? Well what kind of surface do you want for the picture plane?

Links, check them out, lots more info about how to do this stuff on the other ends!: Hendrik Goltzius‘ engraving detail is from Prof. George Wolberg’s post Digital Engraving Techniques For Artistic Rendering; Also read more about classic drawing with cross hatch and other optical tricks for engraving hereDark Design Graphics has a good post on the technique they used for the short lined value and texture crosshatching with pen in their example hereIgor Lukyanov’s sample comes from a post on his site here. The University of Delaware student sample come from this page on technique.

And here as a superb example of a relaxed hatching technique being used to describe surface and the play of light and dark, is a couple of comic strips by the master, Frank Godwin.

I think these as a set illustrate well the power of these different techniques. In class we’ll drill into specifics more, and I’ll work with you on your application of them to get a desired effect.

What strategy to use for a given drawing is a question of Visual Grammar, part of what is commonly thought of as style. A design choice. Design is a integral component of good drawing, and in the end very much about the kind of image you want at the outcome.

Each has its own qualities, I’d never advise one over the other on results universally. Remember, the more jobs you take on with your lines, the more opportunities there are to miss your mark. But don’t be afraid to fail either, that’s how we learn best! A reminder of the vertue of the design principle of Simplification.

Consider: Goltzius’ engraving style is far more laborious than the simpler pen styles most use. And for gestural sketching a flatter loose approach [site] is more than adequate. This sketch by Da Vinci illustrates a beautiful middle ground, a relaxed sketched line that describes both form and value well.

Da Vinci Studies of Embryos Luc Viatour

The master also knew when to simplify. Below
in this drawing of a skull his lines are just hatching, no crossing
and they run straight in the direction of the light.
Using frequency and density to inform value.
They induce some linear texture,
that makes the drawing less static.

Da Vinci study of a cut skull

Alternately you can use the directionality of hatching to suggest atmospheric qualities, as in this gaussy Picasso.

Pablo Picasso mother and child

And this is a great example of hatching and cross hatching that’s predominantly counter to the contours, or otherwise flat. Don’t mostly JUST for tonal values. By Murray Tinkelman, New York Times Op-Ed page, 1975.

Murray Tinkelman, New York Times Op-Ed page, 1975
Murray Tinkelman, New York Times Op-Ed page, 1975
Murray Tinkelman, New York Times Op-Ed page, 1975 (detail)
Murray Tinkelman, New York Times Op-Ed page, 1975 (detail)

I used to use hatching & cross hatching for EVERYTHING.

Hellblazer in pen.

But these days I’m a bit less exuberant with it.
I like to exploit the gestural qualities of brushed
hatching lines to describe value, texture and form attributes,
but try to use it sparingly. What you will see is that I use line value for contours a lot. Sometimes very graphicly like with the hand here below, or other ways. Scroll down past this for a video on Line Weight. When yo very it and why. And a clip on cross hatching with a nib!

Blessings by salgood

At the top of the post, you saw a nice Frankenstein piece by Bernie Wrightson. here’s a set of illustrations from the same book, again you’ll see he uses hatching for most of the work, saving crosshatching or other methods for their distinct difference in texture and tones.

Ok, so with that in mind, here’s a batch of tutorials on crosshatching i’ve collected into a playlist. It starts with this clip from artist Dan Nelson is a fantastic up close look at how he renders cross hatching with a nib! This is a very classic way to work, key thing to note is how he orders the work, doing all the lines in one direction, and then the next, and so on. For a more tidy clean classic look this is critical. The others are good to to get slightly different takes on the same basic ideas.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.