Cross Hatching: The Fabulous Classic Shading Technique Using Little Lines

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Cross hatching is one of those art techniques that many people learn in art class, practice for a bit on a circle to make it look more like a sphere, and then never use again. I’m here to revive the ancient technique of cross hatching and make it sexy again.

Cross hatching 4 ever.

Using the cross hatching technique in your drawings

Why Cross Hatching?

Cross hatching is a technique I’m sure you’ve seen, and maybe have tried before- it’s a super-effective way to add value to a drawing, i.e. shading. There are other techniques to add shading, but there is something about cross hatching- stylistically- that gives a unique look to a drawing. What is it? Old-timey? Extra-hand-drawn? Graphic?


Types of Cross Hatching

There are lots-o-ways to do cross hatching, and you can:

• Vary the line width (by using fatter or thinner drawing tools)

• Layer on more lines to make an area look darker and/or make lines closer together,

• Use straight or curved lines to play up contours of objects

• Experiment with colors

• Experiment with lines other than little straight lines (try curved or scribbles)

Using crosshatching in drawing

Materials for Cross Hatching

Pencil, pen, marker, charcoal, anything that draws. Try a nice thin Micron pen for ultimate line control. The shading looks really subtle when you use thin lines and more obvious when you use thicker lines- both have their purposes.

Pencil will give you a softer look, a darker color marker over a lighter one can look good. I used my beloved Prismacolor markers here.

Practice it

Try out a bunch of these techniques either on your own drawings, or you can download this fancy little page of circles to start with. I spent a pleasant hour or so drawing lines on circles and figuring out different styles. It reminded me of ZENTANGLE! (Because of the relaxing, meditative state I was in. Or maybe that was just my sloth brain.)

Free printab;e for practicing crosshatching drawing technique


Make a crosshatch scale from light to dark to practice your technique.

Crosshatching drawing technique- light to dark





Ooh! Banners!

Sit around and practice drawing banners, then add a few crosshatch lines here and there to give them depth. I have a lot of depth.

How to draw a banner- with crosshatching!

Oops, did I go banner-crazy?


How to add crosshatching to your drawings for depth and awesomeness

Take a minute to follow me on Instagram for more fun art stuff.



  1. Steve
    10/27/2015 / 6:25 pm

    Excellent tips for fun projects! Fun is the key. If drawing is work to you, quit it and do something else.

    • 10/28/2015 / 10:20 am

      Right on! That’s such a great thought to keep in mind while drawing- thanks for the comment!

  2. Susan Watson
    01/20/2016 / 6:22 am

    Having a good time. As a teacher don’t take the time to do things just for me. Always making a sample for the students’ projects. Thanks for doing this!??

    • 01/20/2016 / 12:45 pm

      You know, it is making me so happy that people are getting into doing this. I’m actually loving it that some art teachers are doing this, because it really is important to take some time to do your own work. Even if it’s just for a few minutes! Thanks for joining!

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