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Creating Tone with Cross Hatching and Stippling

 

Creating tone and texture with pen and ink.

Creating tone and texture with pen and ink.
Click to view a large version of this drawing.

Cross Hatching and Stippling are the two basic techniques for the creation of tone and texture in an ink drawing.

  • Cross Hatching is a drawing technique used to build up tone in layers of parallel lines.
  • Stippling is a drawing technique used to build up tone and texture in areas of dots that can be applied evenly or in different densities.

These are traditional techniques that have been used by artists for centuries. They can be applied in a tightly controlled manner, as in our drawing of Whitby above, or more freely and expressively as in the Van Gogh drawing of a tree below.

 

VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890) 'Tree and Ivy in the Asylum', 1889 (ink on paper)

VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)
'Tree and Ivy in the Asylum', 1889 (ink on paper)

In 'Tree with Ivy in the Asylum', Van Gogh intuitively combines hatching and stippling to create a bold expressive technique that naturally reflects the form, texture and energy of its subject. The spontaneity and fluidity of his pen strokes say as much about the artist's personality as they do about the subject. It is the skill of an artist's technique, filtered though a personal vision of the subject, that determines the quality of an artwork.

 

Combining Cross Hatching and Stippling - Whitby Detail 1 (top left)

Combining Cross Hatching and Stippling
Whitby Detail 1 (top left)

If we look at a close-up detail of our Whitby drawing, it should help to reveal how cross hatching and stippling are combined for a tonal and textural effect. A range of cross hatching and stippling techniques have been used to give tone and texture to the walls and roofs. These techniques are not used independently from one another, but are combined to increase their effectiveness. After the brickwork and roof tile patterns had been sketched in, areas of tone were hatched and cross hatched over these to suggest depth and form. Stippling was then applied in various densities to both plain and brick patterned walls in order to convey the grime and texture of the different surfaces.

 

Combining Cross Hatching and Stippling - Whitby Detail 2 (bottom right)

Combining Cross Hatching and Stippling
Whitby Detail 2 (bottom right)

In Detail 2, graduating densities of stippling have been used to express the texture of the bushes and trees. Hatching and cross hatching, combined with stippling, have been applied to suggest a variety of other surface qualities ranging from metal lock-up doors, to smooth concrete and rough brickwork.

As a general rule, it is probably easier to apply cross hatching first, in order to build up the tonal structure of the drawing. Stippling tends to be used later to add subtlety and texture to the work.

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