The Basics of Ink Techniques: Contour Hatching and Cross-Contour Hatching

Articles, Drawing with ink

In today’s article, our theme is the contour hatching technique and the ways how to use it in your wonderful ink artworks.

This post is a part of the series “The Basics of Drawing with Ink.” I had to publish the articles of the series separately because there is just too much information for one.

In this series, we are exploring the pillars of ink drawing mastery: line, hatching, cross-hatching and contour hatching.

Everything starts with this background. You can build any texture in your ink drawing, and exactly the knowledge of basics gives you endless possibilities.

You may also find interesting these parts:

The Basics of Ink Techniques: How to Draw Beautiful, Expressive Lines

The Basics of Ink Techniques: Hatching and Cross-Hatching

Introduction to Dotwork (Stippling) Technique in Ink

What Is Contour Hatching

The main difference between an ordinary hatch and a contour hatch is that the latter is deliberately repeating the shape (the contour) of an object, emphasizing its three-dimensional look.

By the way, you might have seen something similar in the 3d programs when a shape is formed by the lines.

The contour hatching is an excellent way to show that the depicted objects have volume – they are not just flat shapes. That’s why combining the contrast and the contour hatching makes some ink drawings really impressive.

The contour hatches can have a vertical or horizontal orientation. Which kind works best for your drawing, is up to you to decide; this flair evolves with experience and practice.

The horizontally oriented contour hatches and are usually placed at the sides of the object.

The sides become a bit darker – in comparison with the spotlit middle part (depending on the light source), and this often helps to make the object look more credible. We’ll explore how it works in the last part of the post.

What is especially important, you should remember about the principles of perspective when you are working with the contour hatching. This type of hatching abides by the objective rules that apply to any real scene (just look at the cylinder shape at the image above).

The contour hatching is a group of hatches that are characterized by a similar direction (for example, from left to right, looking close to horizontal). Contour hatches are bent accordingly to the shape of volume.

Let’s have a look at some examples.

Long contour hatches (two groups of hatches from both sides of the paper piece):Short contour hatches:An example of the vertical contour hatching:

The more accurate is your contour hatching, the more accented becomes the three-dimensionality (volume) of the objects. The common rhythm of the hatches is the key here.

For example, take a look at this sample below. Can you tell that this kind of chaotic hatching of the rounded ink strokes is emphasizing the three-dimensional look? Probably not.

Cross-Contour Hatching

A wonderful way to use the contour hatching technique is to combine the groups of contour hatching one on top of another. This method is known as cross-contour hatching, on the analogy of the cross-hatching.

Cross-contour hatching can amplify the effect of realism in your drawings and make them look way more credible.

A couple of examples how the cross-contour hatching may look. The first one: 


How to Apply Contour and Cross-Contour Hatching in the Ink Drawings

In this part, we’ll get practical! 😀

If you examine carefully this fragment below, you will notice how many examples of contour hatching can be found there.

With the contour hatching, I accented the 3d look of the ice cream, the glass, the cupcake and the croissant. In some places, the groups of the contour hatching overlap each other, which creates the cross-contour hatching.

And this fragment (below) shows us many proofs how useful is the contour hatching.

Look at the sides of the may-bug – they have a couple of contour-hatching layers! The same principle goes for the shape of the horn – the sides of every its “branch” is carefully touched with the contour hatching.

The Conclusion

That’s everything that I wanted to say about the contour hatching basics. I hope that you found this article useful!

Please be sure that you checked out other parts of this series. The basics are powerful!

Thank you for reading. I wish you much joy and success in mastering the ink techniques 🙂

And, if you liked this post, please share it with your creative friends – drawing together is always more fun!

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