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 Basics Of Ink Techniques: Hatching and Cross-Hatching

Articles, Drawing with ink

In this part of the “Basics of the Ink Drawing Technique” series, we’ll talk about hatching and cross-hatching in ink artworks.

Basically saying, hatching is a body of hatches grouped together. The most important feature of hatching is similarity – we can see the unity and uniformity that is inherent to the lines as a whole.

Hatching is like a choir where every singer (hatch) makes a contribution on a piece of music.

So, let’s have a closer look at the hatching and cross-hatching techniques, and learn to apply them in your ink drawings!

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.

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

You may also find interesting these parts:

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

Introduction to Dotwork (Stippling) Technique in Ink

Which Tool Is the Best for Hatching and Cross-Hatching?

You can create hatchings with almost any of the artistic supplies that are used in the traditional ink graphics. I prefer using ink liners (pens) because they give me the full control over the line behavior – this is great for achieving unity.

The choice of the brand of an ink liner is up to you; there are several well-known names that are associated with the high quality – Faber-Castell, Copic, Pigma Micron, UNI Pin, and others.

Some Faber-Castell ink pens from my artistic supply

You may also be interested in these articles:

Artistic Tools for the Ink Drawing

Learning How to Draw with Ink (there is a part about the art supplies)

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

Articles, Drawing with ink

In today’s article, I’ll show you how to create expressive lines that will help to convey your thoughts and ideas and transform them into amazing ink art.

We’ll also discuss the difference between a line and a hatch, and observe how to make your line work better.

Lines in your drawing are very important. They are responsible for the overall look and feel of the artwork, and the clear distinction between all the objects you depicted.

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 from those basics. You can build any texture in your ink drawing, and exactly the knowledge of the basics gives you endless possibilities.

You may also find interesting these parts:

Introduction to Dotwork (Stippling) Technique in Ink

The Basics of Ink Techniques: Hatching and Cross-Hatching

So let’s begin with the lines and everything that relates to them!

What Are Lines?

Let’s settle on the terms – to be sure that we’ll understand each other. 🙂

A line, in contrast to a hatch, is an all-sufficient unit in the drawing that has a distinctive feature and expressiveness (it may be perceived emotionally in some way – an aggressive line, a gentle line, etc.).

Lines usually vary in width, while hatches are uniform. That’s why groups of hatches work together so greatly – they don’t distract the viewer’s attention one from another.

Another difference is not a strict rule, but it is quite common: lines are, on average, longer than hatches – just because the lengthiness helps to tell a story. And a hatch is rather a small screw of the drawing system; grouped in hatching, they create an appropriate background.Lines often serve as contours in the ink drawings (I usually use lines exactly this way). They can be found in drawings of any kind, but where lines happen to be a core technique, is doodle art and coloring pages art.

How to Draw a Beautiful, Expressive Line?

You can use a nib, an ink liner (ink pen), a brush pen or a brush. Any tool has distinctive features; for example, to get control over brush pens or brushes you probably will need more time and experience.

Note: this article explains the main features and differences of named art supplies.

I personally love using pointed nibs and brush pens, because they allow me to vary the width of my lines – from very thin to broad – depending on how hard I press on the tool while drawing a line.

It’s hard to achieve a proper line variation with an ink liner (pen) because the width of the tip of your tool remains the same, no matter how hard you press. However, you get the best control with ink liner, this means – no surprises in the line quality.

You can also vary the angle of your tool towards the paper sheet and the speed of drawing – everything has an effect on the line’s appearance.

Learning How to Draw With Ink (And Why This Technique Is So Wonderful)

Articles, Drawing with ink

I often get questions about the ink technique; people want to know the basic steps of learning how to draw with ink or ink liners (meaning black and white graphics). Honestly, I find such questions amazing, so I decided to write a post on this topic.

My article is aimed mostly at beginners in the drawing, but I feel like the principles I’m talking about are common for various artistic mediums and different cases of starting something new.

The Magic Of Black Ink

You may ask “Why is it worth honing this particular skill? Why this medium?”

That’s a great point, thank you! Here are some of my reasons why I love ink so much.

How to Create Detailed Art With Ink

Articles, Drawing with ink

I am often asked how do I achieve such a level of detailing in my ink artworks. I think, in some way, it’s a matter of personal features.

I have a strong tendency to imagine everything in small details and count up the finest things whatever I think of and do every day. Sometimes it can be tiring, but it’s just the person I am 😀

Some people tend to have a massive, solid way of seeing life and thinking – they, probably, will be great at expressive and impetuous manners of creating art.

I strongly believe that whatever feels more natural for you, trying something new and unusual can help in developing additional skills and activating new functions of your mind. Isn’t it great for the whole life, not only your art?


If you really like the idea of drawing something very detailed with ink liners, I have several propositions for you.

Introduction to Dotwork (Stippling) Technique in Ink

Articles, Drawing with ink, Video

Today, I’d like to talk about a very powerful technique for graphic art and tell you about the basics and practical tips. Dotwork, also known as stippling, is an amazing method of creating visual effects in ink drawings.

Note: dot art is also known as pointillism. 🙂

This technique is simply magical! With the use of dotwork, you can create smooth transitions of value in your drawing and make velvety textures with the highest eye appeal.

In short, all you have to do is to leave dots on paper. The more dots you add, the darker the area of your drawing becomes.

Let’s have a look at the image below. It’s a visual representation of the difference how can look samples of dotwork depending on the width of the tool it was made with.


From left to right: dotwork samples made with ink liners of 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.8, 1.0 widths. The last sample from the lower row is a variety of dots made with 0.4, 0.5 and 0.8 ink liners.

A combination of dots of various dimensions looks quite impressive. This simple trick also helps to refine the details of the texture. However, it’s necessary to see to it that your dots are of a predictable width, not random. In other words, you have to control the drawing process and learn how to draw with your tool with equal pressure onto the paper. This habit builds up with deliberate training.

If you want to practise the stippling technique, you can make visual borders on a paper sheet (like my circles above) or download my worksheet and fill them with dots. Very simple!

For a start, use a pen or a liner of a constant width (0.3 – 0.5 is absolutely awesome).

Then, when you feel more comfortable, try to achieve basic graphic effects like om the last circle of my drawing. Let your sample be darker on the perimeter and lighter at the center. Looks more volumetric, right? 🙂

A video for your reference – here you can see how I make an illusion of depth and volume with additional layers of dots. Very simple yet persuasive!

As another exercise, I can suggest you increasing the value with the help of different liners. Like here:dotwork-stripeThis stripe begins with very small dots made with a liner of 0.1 width, then it proceeds to 0.2 liner dots, then 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.8 and, at last, 1.0 width.

What kind of tool is the best for creating dotwork?

There is no exact answer. I personally prefer ink liners and pens (non-refillable). They form dots of a predictable width, and there is no danger of having an occasional drop of ink on your drawing – like it happens with nibs.

I don’t recommend using refillable technical pens (rapidographs and isographs). Stippling is a method that wears off and blunts the tip of the tool faster than hatching technique. It isn’t so noticeable when your tool is disposable, but if it is “everlasting” and quite expensive, this can be a problem.

You can also use nibs for creating dotwork. But it’s necessary to get used to nibs and learn how to control the pressure – then you dots will be of equal and predictable size.

A video for your reference (here I use both a 0.5 liner and a nib)

Useful tips for a great stippling 

  • Small details actually make a difference. Even the shift and twist of the paper on your desk relatively to you hand affects the character of your dots. The same goes for the angle of your tool relatively to the paper (try to vary it, and you will see).
  • Make light touches with the tool onto the paper. If you exert you hand while drawing, it won’t make any good. If you have to create big bold dots, it’s a better idea to take a tool with a wider tip that makes such dots naturally.
  • Try to place your dots a bit chaotically – this texture feels more natural. Sometimes it’s necessary to keep order and place dots in an even row, but these cases are relatively rare.
  • Learn how to make dotwork that way, so it looks uniform, without considerable gaps. Of course, not every texture in your drawing will be that solid, but the skill of creating integral stippling texture is very useful in any artistic arsenal.

As a conclusion, I would like to encourage you to practise dotwork and experiment with it. I usually don’t use this technique singly but mix it with lines and hatching (these are more straightforward, concrete, and sometimes even aggressive).

Dots work great in combination with other drawing manners! For example, I use dotwork when:

  • some object of my drawing has an even subtle texture,
  • the object I draw is light,
  • I want to emphasize the shadow,
  • the overall look of the artwork needs some integrity,
  • the surface of the object or place in my drawing is plain or velvety,
  • there are thin and refined details,
  • I draw something blurry.

These are some samples how I combined hatching and dotwork:

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A bonus for you: if you are intersted in practising stippling, you can download this worksheetworksheet-previewI hope this guide was useful and informative! Good luck with practising this wonderful art technique! 🙂

As usual, I’d like to know if I there is something I can help you with. What is your biggest struggle in mastering drawing with ink and liners?

Thank you for reading! And please, like and share this post with your friends who could be interested in these tips 😀

Artistic Tools for the Ink Drawing

Articles, Drawing with ink, Tools

I’d like to tell you about the art supplies that I use for my drawings. Of course, these are not all the possible tools that you can make good use of; it’s rather a general classification.

Also in this post:

  • a couple of words about ink and paper,
  • quick tips on how to choose the right tool for the particular drawing example,
  • the hatching samples,
  • explanation how to interpret the numbers and letters marking the ink liner or pen,
  • the difference between the “SB” and “BS” marking on the brushpens,
  • what means the mysterious “SC” label and what are the so-called “calligraphic” tools,
  • examples of artworks drawn with a particular type of the tool from my portfolio.

I hope you’ll find much useful info!

  1. Nibs and liquid ink (preferably black ink, but it can also be of different colors)


For refined ink drawings, it’s great to use thin nibs, like calligraphic. Nibs can be thinner or thicker, so you can choose several kinds and widths of a nib for one drawing.

For drawing with a nib, you also need a bottle of ink and a couple of subsidiary tools such as a paper/cloth napkin and a small container of water for refreshing and cleaning the nib.

The most obvious advantage of this artistic tool is the possibility to vary the line according to the pressure the artist applies to the tool. A line that was drawn with a nib is notable for its expressiveness. Here are several examples of lines that change their width depending on the pressure: nib-strokesI like using nibs for creating contours in my drawings. Of course, it’s possible to draw a whole artwork with this tool, but it requires an advanced skill of line control. If you wish to create a detailed artwork with the only one tool, be sure that the paper sheet for it is big enough.

If you wish to draw a detailed artwork with the only one tool – a nib – be sure that the paper sheet for it is big enough. The best way is to start from the thinnest possible line that you can achieve and keep in mind the tolerance for the thicker varied line of the external contours.

Examples of “only nib” artworks from my portfolio:

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As you may notice after that comparison with the next “liners” gallery below, “only nib” artworks have a feel of something more thick, heavy, dark.

You may also be interested in this video postHow to Draw with Nib and Ink

2. Liners (also known as ink pens, technical pens)


These tools have one significant advantage – they are portable and handier than nibs. In a case with a nib and liquid ink (that is absolutely required), you have a possibility to throw down your ink container and get really messy. Usually, ink is extremely hard to wash away!

But ink liners are the tools that you can take with yourself just everywhere.

Liners have a fine pointed tip that can leave marks of different width, depending on the type of the liner. These tools have a marking of a line width that is clearly seen on the liner’s body or cap (for example, 0.1 or 0.5). The bigger is the number, the thicker is the line of the tool.

The number on the liner is usually close to the according value in millimeters, but it is not necessarily corresponding to it one-on-one. For example, as is said on Pigma Microns, a 0.3 liner line is close to 0.35 mm line width, and 0.2 liner creates a 0.30 mm line.

Sometimes there is not a number but a letter. For example, an XS (extra small), (S) small or M (medium) like on Faber-Castell Pitt pens. The decoding scheme is:  XS = 0.1 mm, S = 0.3 mm, F = 0.5 mm, M = 0.7 mm.

A small bonus for you: a visual comparison of ink pens line widths. On the image below you can also examine the tips of the tools. At the bottom of the it are the brushpens – about which we’ll talk next, in the segment number 3.


Liners have a characteristic that can be both an advantage and a limit: it doesn’t provide a line variation within the bounds of its width number.

In other words, if you have an ink liner of an x width, you can’t get a varied line or a line of 2x (0.5x) width than the actual value of your tool. The lines are uniform along the full length, and this makes impossible to create an expressively varied line at one try.

The lines are uniform along the full length, and this makes impossible to create an expressively varied line at one try. But this same characteristic allows making a great even hatching.

Here are two samples of hatching, created with a liner and nib. My skill of making even lines with a nib is quite advanced, so both hatching samples are alike. nib-and-liners-hatching
The liners are usually filled with amazing waterproof and fade proof ink. You can always check the liner’s body for the inscription that verifies it.

The tools that you can see in the image above are non-refillable. This is my personal choice because I don’t like the process of cleaning and refilling with ink that is necessary in a case with the refillable technical pens. Such refillable technical pens are also known as rapidographs and isographs. Rapidigraphs can write and draw only at an angle of  90 degrees relative to the paper, isographs can leave ink marks regardless of the angle.

The examples of “only liners” art from my portfolio are below. If you examine them, you may notice that these artworks have more transparent, aerial feel than the “nib” drawings.

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It is also possible to achive amazing artistic results, combining both nibs (for creating the counour) and liners (for details and thin hatching). Like here:freedomA note: There is another small category of ink pens, they are often called calligraphy or lettering pens (and have a marking like SC, where C is for calligraphic). These tools have a wider tip than the liners listed above, and this tip is slightly skewed.


I don’t use calligraphic pens a lot, but they are still great 🙂 I want to start learning hand lettering in future, so probably than I’ll have more impressions and experience to share with you.

3. Brushpens


Brushpens are similar to ink liners (pens) with their advantage of convenience and portability. They also have a marking on the body, it always has a “B” letter.

Please pay attention that SB and BS marks don’t provide the same information. BS means “small brush” and SB is “soft brush.”  The width value of the brushpen stands after the “B” letter.

Some brushpens can be refilled. However, I use non-refillable for the same reasons that I already named.

Some artists admire brushes for the ink drawing technique. I personally love liners (ink pens) more because they are amazing for the smallest details and give me the full control. But the brushes and brushpens are perfect for creating varied expressive lines, they are thick and dark. That’s why I use then for creating contours.

Examples of work with the countours made with a brushpen:

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4. Brushes

Personally I use “ordinary” artistic brushes very rarely. But when it comes to adding strokes with liquid white ink to my art, I usually pick a soft thin natural brush.

I heard that some great artists prefer brushes for their ink drawings because this tool helps to achieve a lively line with a slight tinge of elegant carelessness. There is some kind of magic when a tool has its own control while creating a line 🙂

Comparing brushes and brushpens, it can be said that brushes, in general, allow more diversity in applying strokes.

Brushes are also very handy when it comes to drawing something fluffy, like fur.


Also, I’d like to say a couple of words about the ink and paper I use. They are necessary materials when it comes to creating a beautiful graphics too, right? 🙂

I don’t have an absolute favorite among the ink samples. It’s just great to choose something steady and waterproof to be sure that your drawing can survive after an occasional drop of water (or coffee, or tea) 🙂 If you like to color your artworks with something like watercolor, it’s also very useful to have a waterproof ink.

In other words, read the description of goods and don’t take something really cheap. In the world of art supplies, it happens very seldom that a surprisingly inexpensive tool provides an impressive, long-lasting result.

As for paper, I used to draw on coated glossy paper (it resembles a photo paper), and the outcome was really nice. The hatches put onto this slick paper look a little bit thinner – comparing to the hatching drawn on ordinary thick paper like whatman. I especially love coated paper in combination with the nib tool: it draws so smoothly that the process becomes a pure pleasure.

A limit of coated glossy paper is that you can’t apply coloring onto it as a second layer – this type of paper goes great with ink, but it’s difficult to get it work with paints or colored pencils. It’s also complex to erase something from it – the inks are removing from the surface, too.

Now I work mostly on the thick whatman paper sheets with ink liners and brushpens. I like the slightly rough feeling of it and the crisp white color that is contrasting with the black ink.

You can use any paper you like, it’s just better to choose thick “heavy” types. A thin paper like office or printer types is not very good for the ink drawing because:

a) it isn’t good with two or more layers of ink,

b) you can wear a sheet of such paper out just at the stage of making a pencil underdrawing,

c) this paper creates unpleasant “waves” after a slight soakage, and

d) drawings made on thin paper look very poor.

That’s all for today. 🙂

I hope this guide was helpful and you found something useful. As I said in one of the previous posts, it’s not the tools who get you amazing result, it’s your mastery. Every artist has his or her own little tricks and “secrets” that help to achieve an outstanding look of the drawing. And all such tips require independent practice,  experimenting, and mastery of the artist.

Never get caught in a creative deadlock again, or How To Generate Ideas


Have you ever experienced a crisis: you wanted to create something, but had no idea what it could be? Maybe, you saw people who gush with excellent ideas, and you felt a little envious?

I have a list of tips and suggestions how you can learn to become such a creatively abundant person. These are my own experience, not some random sounds-reasonable advice from popular books or articles. 🙂

  1. Be open to the world around you

It may seem obvious: many people think that they are attentive to the life outside their minds. But is it actually true?

Being observant to the small details is very useful because it’s an easy way to get a bunch of new associations. For example, one day I noticed a flower in a dropped pot, and it gave me an idea for an artwork about the power of human mind’s focus. You never know what idea can appear in your mind while you are observing the world around you!


  1. Use digital tools to collect work material for your ideas

It can be Pinterest, Tumblr or a special folder on your computer. Observing beauty affects your mood and launches a creative search in the ocean of ideas. You can also collect works of other artists.

Don’t copy – observe! Ask yourself questions, what you particularly like in the images you’ve collected.

3. Collect everything that inspires you

By the time I write these lines, the summer is long gone – it’s winter. My drawer is full of various cones, dry leaves, flowers, twigs, and needles. I even have a cracked chestnut: it utters strange chapping sounds that scare me a little 😀


And what inspires you? 🙂