Hatching Techniques for Drawing

Find the best Hatching Technique for Your Art

Hatching Techniques for Drawing

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Hatching basically describes the stroke position when drawing. It is indispensable and also comes quite naturally, because anyone who has ever drawn has probably also hatched unconsciously.

Hatching is especially good for modeling areas, which mainly consists of drawing shadows. Therefore, it is not uncommon for hatching and shading to be mentioned in the same breath. If you know the different techniques and use them consciously, shading will also be much easier.

Different Techniques

With the hatching techniques we can draw different structures and shadows. We can switch between the techniques or choose one that we can stick with in a drawing. It also doesn’t matter whether we draw with ink, pencil, ballpoint pen or other tool.

Parallel Hatching

Parallel Hatching

In parallel hatching, strokes are drawn parallel to each other. The smaller the distance between the strokes, the darker the area appears.

Cross Hatching

Cross Hatching

With cross hatching, the name says it all, because the strokes cross each other. The strokes are crossed in at least two directions. The more strokes that cross, the darker the area becomes.

Circle Hatching

Circle Hatching

With a circle hatch you can draw almost perfect transitions. The important thing here is that the pencil is not pointy, because this makes them particularly smooth.



Instead of strokes, dotting works with – well – dots. Dotting is often used when drawing with ink, since fine gradients can often seem almost impossible with opaque ink.

Examples of hatching techniques

As so often in creative work, there are no mandatory rules to follow and we should not think too long about which technique fits best to which drawing, but listen to our gut feeling. Nevertheless, I would like to show a few examples so that you get a better idea of the different hatching techniques.

Example Circle Hatching

Circle hatching of the skin of a man's face with pencils of different hardness.

Example dotting and parallel hatching

Stippling and simple hatching of an ornament from Yerevan (Armenia) with a black fineliner.

Example parallel hatching and circle hatching

Parallel hatching and cross hatching of a fountain in Chișinău (Moldova) with a black fineliner.

Example parallel hatching and cross hatching

Parallel hatching for light shadows, cross hatching for darker shadows in a portrait sketch.

Example dotting

Dotting in a drawing of the largest sand desert in the world Rub al Chali, inspired by a trip to Dubai.

Example circle hatching, cross hatching and parallel hatching

Circle hatching, parallel hatching and cross hatching mixed in a drawing of a ginseng ficus with ballpoint pen and colored pencils.

Tips for hatching:

  • When hatching with a pencil, we should generally not press hard on the paper so that the paper does not get scarred. If you erase the area and draw over it later, white strokes will appear, possibly destroying the drawing.
  • If the shadows do not become dark enough despite closely spaced pencil strokes, we should use a softer pencil.
  • Smudging is not necessary in hatching. If we practice often enough, we can hatch transitions that blend together almost perfectly.
  • When hatching with ink or fineliners, it can be helpful to make a sketch with a hard pencil beforehand, because here every stroke is permanent.

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