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Cross hatching portraits

Cross hatching is a classic shading technique in drawing.

You might also be interested in :6 shading techniques for your drawings

If you like doodling away for hours, you might also like adding intense cross hatching to your drawings, building shade progressively layer by layer, as the process is quite relaxing and very similar to zentangling. In a series of recent portraits, I have been using hatching and cross hatching for shading. I also find interesting to explore the contrast between the curvy lines of a portrait and the geometric lines of the cross hatching shading.

In that series of portraits, I am using 2 types of shading :

Hatching with lines going in the same direction

 hatching for shading in drawings

Cross hatching with lines going in various directions.

You can train on scales like these ones before trying your hand on a more time consuming portrait drawing.

Here is how you can draw a portrait and add cross hatching shading

You will need:

  • Drawing paper
  • Pencil and eraser
  • fountain pen or fine liner or dipping pen and ink

Working from a reference picture, start by making a rough outline of the contours and features of your portrait.

It can be tempting here to use a light box or to trace the portrait and have a quick and perfect result. But the more I draw the more I think that it is actually the “mistakes” we make that are making our art unique and drawing free hand is the only way to develop a style that will be unique.

You might also like: The perfection of imperfection

Draw the main features of the portrait, you can use a few guidelines to place the features as shown on this post: Portrait drawing : Basic proportions of the face

You can also draw the contours of areas you will want to shade, like I did on the picture above.

Once you are happy with your drawing, you can start the cross hatching shading process. I like to start with the features like the eyes and the mouth.

We all have different styles and techniques, in my case, I like to outline the areas I want to shade before starting to cross hatch.  Start cross hatching trying to replicate the differences of shades you see on your reference picture.

Keep adding cross hatching to your drawing, don’t worry if it looks weird at this stage, it will all come together as you keep on shading. You can see here for the lips, how I am working from light to dark, adding more lines where I want the drawing to be darker.

Keep working on the portrait until you did shade all the areas.

Here is an example of a drawing made only with parallel hatching:

And Here are a few example of drawings made with cross hatching:


You are welcome to upload your cross hatching portraits in the Big Picture Art Project:


Click here to participate in the Big Picture Art Project.


Cross hatching portraits
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