The fifth week of my  drawing course with has probably been the most exciting so far because I got the chance to learn so many new things; I had to research the origin and history of graphite pencils; Study the pencil drawings of masters such as Albrecht DürerLeonardo da VinciMichelangelo, and the Australian artist Norman Lindsay; Learned 6 new pencil strokes and much more. In fact there is too much to include in one single article, so this one is all about cross hatching and making marks. When reading about my progress below don’t forget to click on the thumbnails by each section to see the cool drawings I created in more detail. My drawings were submitted to Cindy, my course instructor at, and her feedback (in italics) is also included below.

Unit One: Outline Drawing: Week Five (part i)

Without going through all of the details, this weeks course introduced different ways of preparing and holding a pencil to achieve different effects. I learned about shading, blending, broad strokes, chisel point, fine lines and cross hatching. I must point out that I made the mistake of submitting three pages of sketches when the course instructions clearly stated to submit only one. However, Cindy kindly took the time to give me her valuable feedback on all three.

Cross hatching – making marks – shading and blending – Sheet one

Cross Hatching in graphite pencil

Click to enlarge

The first area I covered was how to prepare the pencil, and hold it correctly to achieve a smoothly blended result. I had never realised that so much was involved when trying to achieve perfectly smooth shading. The course notes described every step in detail, complete with photographs, so it was actually fairly easy to pick up and learn the techniques required to create the appropriate shading and blending effects. The course then introduced different methods for blending shaded areas using various implements such as a Cotton-bud, Tortillon or a Stump. In the past I’d always used my fingers but this is a big no-no, as just by touching the paper with our fingertips can irreversibly damage its surface. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the video I’ve included at the bottom of this post.

Feedback from Cindy

Cross hatching 1 feedback

Click to enlarge

Hi Ian it’s great to see your pencil strokes this week, well done on your fantastic efforts here! The exciting thing is that it appears that you have practiced a lot and understood all of the techniques with just a few minor adjustments needed to the way you are holding your pencil.

Once you have adjusted your pencil position then you will be able to work towards ‘perfect’ practice. I am here to help you to make sure that you are engaged in perfect practice so please see my suggestions below to help you more.

Sheet One

A: Wow this is an excellent fine line technique with a wonderful taper towards the mid-length then into the tip of the stroke. These are the types of line that you will find most valuable in your artwork when drawing so many things. You can use this tapered line when you are hatching for the best effects. Its great to see this wonderful curve in there too.

B: On many of your lines I can see a small dot at the beginning of your strokes, this must be avoided. To avoid this please begin your stroke with your pencil off the page, then landing gently. Don’t begin the stroke in a stable position on the paper. Glide in like an aeroplane coming into land then taking off again.

C: These chisel point strokes are perfect! Gorgeous! They have a lovely wide base and then taper at the tip. We don’t always taper the chisel point stroke. We can also keep it parallel, however for this exercise I have challenged you to taper as well as achieve the chisel point stroke. Well done.

D: In this area you have twisted your wrist immediately after setting your pencil down onto the page. This is probably because you intended to curve the stroke. Instead you must turn the wrist a bit later on; when you are half way through pulling the stroke and not at the beginning.

E: Whoopsy a line has jumped across your apple, next time you can use your electric eraser or putty eraser to gently remove it then hatch the area again.

F: These are wonderful broad strokes, a little bit pale but they have a lovely neat edge along the back here, good work.

G: Once again its just a matter of loosening up your wrist and using the entire arm and elbow in the process.

Cross hatching – making marks – shading and blending – Sheet two

Cross hatching sheet 2

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The next set of exercises went into more detail on how to prepare and use your pencil to make unified broad strokes, introduced how to prepare and use a chiseled point, and how to draw a series of incredibly fine lines. In the example opposite I also had some examples of the blending techniques in use where I drew a flower from graphite powder I had scraped from my pencil and applied to the paper using the tip of my stump. The grey splodges in the top left corner was my rather lame attempt at creating a mini abstract drawing of my cat’s nose and whiskers using graphite powder and a cotton bud! In the top right is my attempt at creating a consistent, uniform blend using the blending techniques given in the lesson

Feedback from Cindy

Sheet Two:

Feedback for cross hatching sheet 2

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A: These are good chisel point tapered strokes

B: This one shows that the tip of your pencil has shattered and separates the stroke, giving a messy appearance. Be careful not to press too hard when preparing and positioning the pencil. The tip is quite delicate.

C: Your wrist is still a bit stiff here

D: These are good broad strokes.

E: Wonderful tapered fine strokes here. The fine line doesn’t always taper but to know how to taper a fine line is extremely valuable.

F: These little strokes are not quite any stroke, its important to define the stroke. Properly prepare your pencil to the chisel point tip often. If you look at your pencil and see that the ellipse shape on the tip is worn down on either or both sides of the ellipse shape it means you have been rolling it on the side as you pull. We are not meant to roll the pencil at all while applying the chisel point stroke, you are to use your wrist in that wonderful 45 degree arc that it is capable of as you stroke the page, rather than roll it. Try to get used to using your wrist more for the curved strokes. Your wrist is quite stiff. It needs to loosen up more. Don’t worry the stiff wrist comes from years of hand-writing. We do however need to keep our wrist stiff for shading the smooth shading technique.

G: This shaded area has been blended. Please could you submit to me an area of smooth shading that hasn’t been blended.

H: This letter is missing but it relates to the graphite powder with cotton bud (q-tip) strokes upper left; these are fabulous.

Cross hatching – making marks – shading and blending – Sheet three

Cross hatching making marks sheet 3

Click to enlarge

On the final sheet I spent more time developing my cross hatching techniques. It took me a while to get into the rhythm of drawing consistent lines with consistent spacing. I had problems when trying to draw cross hatching using curved lines and I need to practice this a lot more before I truly get the hang of it. I searched on Google to find and study a selection of cross hatching examples of previous masters, and I was amazed to see the accuracy of their work which I had never noticed before. I really do like this style of rendering, and particularly the challenges it poses to the artist. Done properly it evokes a feeling of antiquity to drawings where it is applied and I would like to become more expert at using it in my work as my drawing skills develop.

Feedback from Cindy

 Sheet Three:

Feedback cross hatching sheet 3

Click to enlarge

A: These cross hatching strokes are great and you just need to practice that equidistant position of the strokes. Well done on a beautiful taper here.

B: lovely distance and spacing between these strokes however that little dot has appeared here at the beginning of the strokes. I have mentioned earlier on about how to correct that. Also, when we are creating one ‘set’ of hatching strokes, we should always be beginning from the same end of the stroke for that particular set.

C: just practice needed and try to pull the pencil more rapidly, using the arc of the wrist to curve the stroke.

D: Fantastic tapered strokes here too!

All round great work Ian, can’t wait to see your ‘Old Hayshed’ now!




More encouraging feedback from Cindy there, and more pointers to how I can improve my techniques in these areas.

Coming up

I’m feeling really inspired now, and I’m ready to start the final part of this weeks coursework which is to create a complete a drawing of the Old Hayshed. Please follow my Drawing Journey to see how I get on 🙂

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Why you should never touch your drawing paper with your fingers

I had never realised before that touching the surface your drawing paper with your fingers can irreversibly damage it. If you don’t believe me just take a look at the following video by JD Hillberry.

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