Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 9) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |

Crosshatching a Value Scale

Crosshatching a Value Scale | The easy way to learn cross hatching |

This post will show you the best way to learn how to crosshatch like a pro!  Crosshatching requires you to keep track of many lines, each drawn on a specific angle.  I’ll teach you the secret wizardry of crosshatching. It’s easier than you’d think!

Have some crosshatching homework to do?  Maybe you’re just learning to draw for fun!  I really enjoy teaching art students how to crosshatch.  Besides being an extremely useful technique for shading with pens and markers, crosshatching is rooted in technology and art history.

Art History Fun Fact!

When artists could only print artwork in black or white, crosshatching really saved the day.  It enabled artists to achieve half-tones, or values in between white and black.  Crosshatching is extremely clever and not hard to learn if you learn the right way.



Learning to Crosshatch

The best way to learn how to crosshatch is to create a value scale using the crosshatching method.  Although a value scale is not the most exciting work of art it will walk any new artist through the process of creating different values by means of clever use of line angles and positioning.  Most importantly, crosshatching a value scale will instill an understanding for how to angle the drawn lines used in crosshatching.

In fact, I will be showing you the recipe that I came up with to learn the proper angles perfectly.  Let’s call it my recipe for crosshatching.  Simply follow along like you would with a recipe for baking a cake and you’ll get great results.  Assuming you follow the directions perfectly of course!


Step by Step Crosshatching

Grab a pen or thin black marker. We are going to create a crosshatched value scale that will contain 4 values.  Once complete our value scale will progress from a light gray value into a dark gray value.


Let’s get started!


The first thing you’ll want to do is create a large rectangle that measures 1 inch tall by 4 inches wide.  Next you’ll need to subdivide that rectangle into smaller sections like the illustration below.  I’ll be referring to each smaller section as a “zone”.  Each zone measures 1 x 1 inch.  It’s important to set up the value scale with these exact measurements.  If not, your crosshatching angles will not be correct while following along with the rest of this step by step tutorial.  You can even go ahead and number your zones for the sake of clarity.


Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 0) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |


We want the first zone, that is zone 1, to contain 1 set of lines. Begin by drawing your first line from the bottom-left of zone 1 to the top-right of zone 2.  This gives us our first angle from which we’ll base the other lines off of.

Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 1) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |


It’s probably a good idea to add a few more guides just to ensure that we will not accidentally change the angle of our lines.   Successful crosshatching requires the artist to keep their lines parallel.

Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 2) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |


Now we are ready to complete this set of lines.  We’ll do this by “filling in” the spaces between each guide with straight, parallel lines.  How many lines should you draw?  I wouldn’t worry about counting lines.  Pay more attention to the line spacing.  For your typical pen, or ultra-fine marker you’ll want to space out each line by approximately 1/8 of an inch.


Line Spacing Tip!

Different pens draw lines of different thicknesses.  The thinner the line the closer you can make your lines, you might have to experiment with your line spacing somewhat.




Moving onward, let’s complete this set of lines like the drawing below.

Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 3) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |


As of right now you should have 1 set of lines in zones 1 through 4.  We numbered the zones for a reason!  Each zone will represent the number of sets of lines used in that zone.  We will not be counting lines, but will be keeping track of the sets of lines.  Crosshatching a value scale requires us to change the angle of the next set of lines.  We can use our well-structured value scale to help us find the next logical angle to crosshatch with.  Starting on the top-left corner of zone 2 connect a line down to the bottom-right corner of zone 2.  There!  That’s the next angle we need for successful crosshatching.

Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 4) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |

It would be good idea to set up a few more lines as guides just to make sure we don’t lose the parallel nature of our lines.

Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 5) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |

Can you guess what happens next?  Yep, we fill in our next set of parallel lines.  Again make sure the lines are parallel and are drawn with equal spacing (1/8 of an inch usually works well).


Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 6) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |

For our third set of lines we will be using a horizontal line.  With the same spacing and neatness as before we can add our 3rd set of lines to our value scale like the drawing below.

Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 7) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |

Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 8) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |


Finally, to finish drawing our crosshatched value scale we will use a vertical line in only zone 4.

Crosshatching a Value Scale (Step 9) | The easy way to learn cross hatching |

If you have followed along you should now have a ton of lines drawn but in a very logical order.  The labels of each zone help remind us just how many sets of lines should exist in each zone.  Visually, your value scale should appear to get darker in value from zone 1 through zone 4.  If not, retrace your steps and see what went wrong.  Did you change the line spacing?  Is your ink not a dark black?


What Angles Do I Have To Use When Crosshatching

I often get asked whether or not crosshatching can only be accomplished with these specific angles in this specific order.  My answer is always “Of course not.”  However, you really need a good understand for how crosshatching works before your start inventing your own angles and switching things up.

The step by step process for crosshatching a value scale laid out for you here is the perfect recipe for getting good results every time.  Practice it. Memorize it.  Then, experiment with it.


How can I help you with your crosshatching?







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