Let’s play with a pen!

The last two days have been heavy, so let’s lighten up a bit and look at how some people approach shading just using pen and ink.


Ink is tough to shade with because it doesn’t matter how much or little pressure you put on the pen, it’s always going to draw black (assuming it’s a black pen). You have several different ways you can show progressive shading though, it’s just a matter of playing around and figuring out what style you prefer.


Hatching is one of the most common techniques for shading, just lines, all going in the same direction. Keeping the lines closer together naturally makes it darker as it eliminates the white behind it. Personally this technique doesn’t work that well for me, I find most of the rest of these more interesting.


Using an unfocused scribble to provide shading to a drawing isn’t that common, probably because rather than looking like shading, it tends to look more like a texture. I like it a lot, and there are a lot of different ways to do it that don’t look like this particular experiment, so try it and find out how your hand moves, for sure it will be it’s own thing, 100% your own.


Stippling is probably one technique everyone can easily recognize having seen before. It involves simply dotting the paper more or less densely depending on how light or dark you want the space to be. It looks fantastic, but it is unbelievably time consuming, and as someone who has ADHD, it drives me absolutely crazy when I do it, it requires a ton of patience and my hand gets lazy over time.


Cross hatching is probably the most popular shading technique, as it doesn’t take a ton of disciplined control and can be done reasonably quickly. It is hatching but then going back over your lines with more lines going in the opposite direction. There are a ton of variations on this, and it’s hard to get wrong.


Weaving is a personal favorite of mine. I have heard it called cross-hatching as well, but weaving makes more sense to me. It tends to look like a woven pattern. One problem using it as shading is that it is a challenge to make parts of it lighter and darker. It’s easier if you are using a brush with India Ink, but otherwise you get a sort of uniform shade of grey, but it still looks super cool.


Contour Lines is sort of a variation on Hatching, a sort of cross between Hatching and Stippling, but instead of lots of dots, it is lots of dashes. This technique is super versatile, you can shade as well as imply a texture to something. This is what I probably use the most when I shade anything in ink.

I am including a couple of videos of other people using these and other techniques as well, it is probably good to see someone drawing these out, and because I am left handed, I’m not sure how most of you would relate to the weird way I hold a pen.


Try out all these techniques and report back your preferences in the Facebook Group. Don’t spend a great deal of time on something that you quickly feel you don’t like. It’s not worth laboring over something that isn’t working for you, the idea is to find something fun that you connect with to keep the whole act of drawing fun 🙂

I’m excited to see what you decide!


1Practice the different inking techniques
2Discuss what worked and what didn't work in the Facebook Group