Realistic Pencil Drawing Techniques – Hatching

Dear artist,

I hope you have already checked out the basic drawing tutorials about drawing paper, drawing pencils and how to sharpen pencils.

If not, you should definitely do this first: Basic Drawing Tutorials

In this category I will show you different realistic pencil drawing techniques. This is the first blog article in this category and I decided to start with a drawing lesson about hatching. Hatching is one of the most important techniques that you have to learn.

Hatching techniques – Different forms of hatching

You can find hatching techniques almost everywhere in a drawing. With different kinds of hatching you can create different surface textures and much more. The expression “Hatching” means that you use your pencil and draw different lines to create a specific surface in your drawing. Hatching techniques can be very different depending on the picture you want to draw. The look of the finished surface always depends on how you align your strokes step by step. Let’s look at some examples of hatching techniques.

In general, you can use any form you want for your hatching, but I will show you three common ones. Straight hatching, Cross hatching, Circle hatching.

The most basic one is the straight hatching. Straight hatching means that all of your strokes have the same direction. Nevertheless, you can vary with a lot of things like, the distance between the strokes, the pressure that you use, the pencil tip, the paper, the angle of the pencil to the paper etc.
Straight Hatching
If straight hatching does not work for you, you could try cross-hatching. Cross hatching means that your strokes have at least two different directions. With cross-hatching you can also vary the different parameters like with the straight hatching, but additionally to this you could add even more directions to create the surface that you want.

Cross Hatching
The last form of hatching that I want to show you is hatching in small circles. With this hatching technique you can vary the circumference of the circles. You can use very small circles for a very fine surface or bigger ones for a rough surface. Like always you have to experiment a lot.

Circle Hatching


Which hatching for which drawing

That’s the question that a lot of beginners ask, when they hear about hatching and other techniques. Unfortunately it is not that easy. In art there is no exact way how to do things. Every picture or portrait is so different. The tone of the skin or any other material in the world can vary a lot and it depends on countless factors. The same applied for the hatching techniques. There is no exact way like in maths or physics. It makes no sense to give tips like: “For dark skin you have to use this and for bright skin this etc.”. The only way to learn it is to try different things out.

But how to start? My advice is to take all your pencils and papers that you have and start hatching. Try different forms of hatching with different papers and pencils. Start for example with the 3H. At first you do straight hatching, then cross-hatching, then circles etc. And don’t forget to vary the pressure, the tip, the angle of the pen and everything that you can imagine.

After that go on with the next HB, B, B2, B4 etc. Like this you will see the different effect by yourself. Do it with graphite pencils, charcoal pencils and with Pierre Noire pencils. In this article you can find the pencils that I use: Best Drawing Pencils

At first maybe you will think that it makes no sense to do that. But believe me I did exactly the same at very expensive drawing workshops. After trying different things out, you can start using the techniques in your drawings.

How to move the pencil right

The opinions about this topic are very different. When I started drawing I watched a lot of drawing tutorials on YouTube and some people there say, that you should only move your hand around your ankle and keep the arm stiff. For me it worked quite good at the beginning. To be honest some artists who teach that are good artist, what shows that it can work for some people. Later I met very famous artists who told me exactly the opposite :D. They told me that you shouldn’t move your ankle but only the arm. A third options is to move the pencil with the fingers. So what is the best one? In my opinion it is definitely not the first one with the ankle. Sometimes you can move your ankle to get some special lines, but the main hatching should come out of the whole arm. You can make a small experiment. Try to draw a straight line out of the ankle and then try to draw a line out of the arm. After doing that you should realize that the radius of the “ankle-movement” is much smaller than the radius of the “arm-movement”, and due to that it is easier to draw long straight lines with the arm. That’s only one reason for the arm-movement. Another reason is, that you have to use more of your body for the drawing. That means, a small stroke needs a lot of body movement. At first that feels strange but after a while you maybe feel, that you can draw with more feeling and more precise. In addition to that you could use finger movement for detailed parts, and sometimes even the ankle movement.

That only my opinion and you should try what works best for you and your style. In the following picture you can see how I combine different hatching techniques to create realistic skin (The print on the top is too dark, that’s why I draw it a bit brighter).


Start hatching!

Now you know the most important things about hatching. Use hatching as much as you can in our drawings! It is not always easy but you will improve step by step. After using the technique for a while you will see that you can create a much wider range of tones with just one pencil. Maybe you want to start with straight hatching and add another layer at some parts to get a different effect at some areas. Be creative and start practicing! 🙂

If you have any further question or ideas for other topics, please let me know! Leave me a comment and tell me how it goes!

All the Best








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