Shading Techniques


Hatching is the most common tool for building form and is essentially a series of lines drawn closely together to give the illusion of values. Shading can be created using curved lines, straight lines, long lines, short lines and any combination of the above. The hatching motion should be reflective of the curvature of the object. For instance, if we are drawing a spherical form, the hatching should be circular; for a cylindrical surface, the hatching should resemble a curve; for a flat surface, the hatching should describe a straight line. Lines may run in any direction with the direction of the hatching dependent on the external appearance of the figure. Altering the direction of hatch lines naturally describes the shape and form of the subject.


A variation of hatching in which one set of lines is crossed over by another set of lines to produce a smoothly shaded surface. Crosshatching can be used to create different textures and is somewhat more student-friendly than hatching as it helps you to reduce the presence of gaps between the lines. The general rule of thumb when it comes to crosshatching is to cross over the initial set of lines on an angle that creates a diamond-shaped space rather than square.


A method of shading that creates textured values by combining randomly drawn curved lines. Values range with the density in which the curved lines are drawn. For light tones, fewer curved lines are drawn. For darker tones, many curved lines are drawn close together. Densely rendered lines create a smoother appearance than the more textured look of lighter graduations of the circularism technique.

Exercise: Create a value scale for each shading technique.
It is very important to practice progressive shading scales for all shading techniques. From light to dark as well as dark to light. To create smooth shading, lines must be so close they appear to be touching. If you are not pleased with the transition from one value to the next, add some shorter lines here and there to smooth the transition.

Tip: Remember to sharpen your pencils regularly, particularly before commencing a new area of shading. If you prefer, use mechanical pencils. Each line is the same width and you don't have to stop often to sharpen the pencil.

Other pages of interest

Drawing light and shadow
Creating shadows in your drawings
Reflected light and shading
Shading to convey form
Shading techniques