Hatching: The Shade of Lines

Hatching is shading composed of fine lines drawn in close proximity.

Hatching is an artistic technique used to create tonal or shading effects by drawing closely spaced parallel lines. This method is especially important in essentially linear media, such as drawing, and many forms of printmaking, such as engraving, etching, and woodcut. In Western art, hatching originated in the Middle Ages, and developed further into cross-hatching, especially in the old master prints of the fifteenth century.

Hatching by Rembrandt
Rembrandt created some 300 etchings and drypoints from about 1626 to 1665. His career as a printmaker ran parallel to his career as a painter—he rarely treated the same themes in both media and on only occasionally did he reproduce his paintings in prints. Above all, he was a great innovator and experimenter in this medium, often handling traditional materials in unconventional ways. His impact on printmaking is still reflected in etchings produced today.
The Damned Soul by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1525

The main concept is that the quantity, thickness, and spacing of the lines will affect the brightness of the overall image, and emphasize forms creating the illusion of volume. Hatching lines should always follow (i.e. wrap around) the form. By increasing quantity, thickness and closeness, a darker area will result.

An area of shading next to another area which has lines going in another direction is often used to create contrast. Line work can be used to represent colours, typically by using the same type of hatch to represent particular tones. For example, red might be made up of lightly spaced lines, whereas green could be made of two layers of perpendicular dense lines, resulting in a realistic image.

Artists use the technique, varying the length, angle, closeness and other qualities of the lines, most commonly in drawing, linear painting, and engraving.

Hatching and the architectural drawing

Edward T. White’s Architectural Drawings – elevation