Cross-Hatching: It’s All About Lines

Cross-hatching is a method of line drawing that describes light and shadow. The representation of light utilizes the white or openness of the page, while shadow is created by a density of crossed lines.

You combine vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines to portray images.  You can see this technique in paper currency.  Look at the following examples:

George Washington on the US 1 dollar bill

Manuel Roxas on the new generation 100 Peso bill

Notice how parallel lines are used to show the contours of the face.  The technique is appropriate if you’re going to use a pen (technical pen, sign pen, etc). 

The first time I used this technique was in college. As the art editor for our college paper, I was tasked to come up with editorial cartoons, and illustrations for poems submitted by students. I’d read the poem and come up with an image that would embody it.

La Morir

The most memorable one I did was for a poem entitled, La Morir, where the central theme was a warrior facing Death himself. I borrowed the technical pen of one of my high school buddies (who was taking up Architecture at that time), and rendered my vision of the poem on tracing paper.

The next one I did was a portrait of Christ . 


The inspiration struck me when I got a thank you card for attending the wake of a friend’s family member.  I applied the cross-hatching technique on my version of the bowed head of Christ during the Crucifixion, and added a few elements in the drawing.I positioned the image so that I could run the paper through the printer and print my sentiments on the drawing:

When I see You there on the cross, how can I cry out and complain about my pain. Still You tell me to come to You with my pain so that I can learn from it, understand it, and be better in spite of and because of it.

It’s been decades since I indulged my “gift”. In one of my forays, I used the technique again.  Here they are:

A Brooding Superman

This one was drawn using a pencil applying the cross-hatching technique.  The image was based on the cover of DC Comics’ large format graphic novel, Superman: Peace on Earth, authored by Alex Ross and Paul Dini.  The illustrations were done by legendary artist, Alex Ross, in rich color and a “life-like feel”.

Troublesome Minds cover

This one is of one of my favorite science-fiction characters, Spock, of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek.  The drawing was based on the cover of a novel by Dave Galanter entitled, Troublesome Minds.  Reading Spock’s dialogues in Star Trek novels really taught me how to write/speak in formal language.

Batman/Gargoyles cover

This one was based on an Alex Ross pencil illustration of Batman/Gargoyles as seen on  Batman is my favorite comic book hero. He doesn’t have super powers. He uses his skills and his mind to fight crime.

Engraving Art featuring Kyoto Temple

Royal & Langnickel Engraving Art Famous Places makes it easy to incorporate art with education with fact-filled history of each famous place included Simply use the tool in the kit to scrape away the preprinted design, revealing silver metallic color below.I was fortunate to have purchased such a kit featuring the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto. The temple dates back to 778, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water. Perhaps someday, I would be able to travel to Kyoto to relish the beauty of the place.

Cross-hatching is a technique that should be studied by those who would want to develop their skills in drawing. Just pick a nice illustration and study the contour of the image. That’s how I base the direction my lines are going to take.

1 thought on “Cross-Hatching: It’s All About Lines”

  1. Dave Galanter said:

    Nicely done on the cover. 🙂

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