How to Crosshatch a Landscape from a Photograph
Break out your pens and pencils and learn how to crosshatch a landscape. You'll start by making a value scale to learn how to use lines to create depth and then you'll ink your own landscape from a photo reference.
Crosshatching was in the height of fashion in the mid-1800s during the Golden Age of Illustration. Artists across the world used pen and ink to illustrate advertisements, portraits, and landscapes. In this tutorial I'll be showing you how to create a value scale and a beautiful landscape. You can use whichever type of pen you feel most comfortable with.
What You'll Need
- Photo reference
- Drawing paper (Bristol preferably)
- Pen of your choice (Rapidograph, ball point, or nib pen)
1. Create a Value Scale
Before we start on our portrait, we're going to create a value scale to make the stippling process much easier. A value scale is a gradation scale of boxes (in our case 8) that go from white to black. This helps you see the range you have with the pen. So let's start by drawing a box 1" tall and 8" long and dividing it into 8 equal boxes.
It's easier to work light to dark when you're creating your first value scale. Start with the box on the left and number them 1-8. Leave box #1 pure white. In box #2, draw vertical lines that are evenly spaced. You can do two rows of lines. As you get better at creating lines, your spacing will become more consistent and your lines will align. If you squint at this box, you should notice a very light grey cast to it.
Continue making the same vertical lines through boxes #3 - #8.
Go back to box #3 and draw horizontal lines, using the same spacing. Sometimes it is easier to turn your paper. Continue making the same horizontal lines through boxes #4 - #8.
Go back to box #4 and draw diagonal lines from left to right. Continue making the same diagonal lines through boxes #5 - #8.
Go back to box #5 and draw diagonal lines from right to left. You will now have a box that has four sets of lines running through it. Continue making the same lines through boxes #6 - #8.
Go back to box #6. Now that you have the four directional lines drawn in, you will make this box darker by drawing lines at a new angle, generally a 30 degree angle. You just don't want to be drawing exactly over your last lines. Continue making the same lines through boxes #7 - #8.
Go back to box #7. Now that you have the five directional lines drawn in, you will make this box darker by drawing lines at another new angle, generally the opposite 30 degree angle. You just don't want to be drawing exactly over your last lines. Continue making the same lines through box #8.
In the last box, continue to fill it in with lines until you have a nearly-solid black. At this point, the human eye can't separate individual lines so feel free to squiggle a bit.
Congratulations! You've just made your very own stippling value scale.
2. Prepare Your Image
Print out the photo you want to draw. If it's easier, you can turn the photo into a black and white image in Photoshop. Otherwise, simply squinting at the image will show you the different values.
3. Sketch It Out
Sketch out your landscape, putting in all of the details such as rocks, trees, clumps of flowers, etc.
If you don't have much experience sketching, a great way to get around this step is to print out the landscape you are drawing at the size you want the finished piece to be. Then tape your print out to a sunny window. Take your drawing paper and tape it on top of the print out. Next, trace the outline of the landscape. When you're done, untape your drawing and print out from the window. Voila! You've drawn a your landscape!
Now that we have the outline, it's time to turn it into an ink-by-number drawing. Just like how paint-by-number turned us all into Van Gogh's as children, this will make your cross-hatching much easier. So look at your photograph and determine what areas are the blackest blacks. Draw the shape of that black area on your drawing. If you like, you can even number it #8 to correspond to your value scale. Then go value scale box by value scale box (or feature by feature if that's easier for your mind) and draw out the areas with their corresponding numbers (if you prefer).
4. Start with Mid-range Values
Actually putting pen to paper on your first stippling portrait can be frightening. Don't worry. We're going to take it slow.
It's least intimidating to start with a mid-range value section that isn't on an edge of any of your landscape features. Here I'm laying down the first value (#2) in areas that will later be perhaps a #5 or #6.
Go back over the same areas again and make them equal with the #3 value box.
Take your value up one more notch to #4. Now you have the mid-range values put in.
5. Ink in the Lighter Values
Using your photo as a reference, ink in a #2 value into all lighter areas (save those that are white). You can decide which direction you want your lines to go by looking at the landscape in your photograph. If it's grasses or tree trunks, vertical lines work well. If it's a sloping hill, diagonal lines are nicer. In my case, I'm leaving the beach white as it contains the smaller details. You can leave your smaller details white till later as well.
6. Darken the Landscape
Squint at your photographic reference and determine which areas of your landscape that you initially inked in as mid-range values need to be darken than #4. Add in another layer of crosshatched lines to those darker areas.
Looking at the lighter areas of your landscape, add another layer of crosshatching to the areas that are darker than a #3 value.
Darken the larger areas of the landscape to match the value you see in your photographic reference.
Go in one last time and push your values to the darker range, from #6 to #8 appropriately. Your landscape should now have a nice range of value from #1 to #8.
7. Start Inking Your Smaller Detail Area
Crosshatch in a single layer of ink to get a nice #2 value in your smaller detail area that are not white.
Using your reference, go in and crosshatch another layer of ink in the darker areas to push the value to #3.
Going into your white areas, carefully ink in a few lines to make the small details and shadows. Be careful not to go too dark too fast.
8. Finish Up Your Landscape
Squinting your eyes at your photographic reference, check the values in the photo to the values you have inked. Darken the areas that need to be pushed further with another layer or two of crosshatching.
Erase your pencil lines, being careful not to smudge any wet ink.
You've just inked your first crosshatched landscape! After a few pictures, you'll start to get a better feel of which way your lines should go to better embody the landscape. There's no right or wrong way to ink your lines so long as you have a wide range of value in the end. Crosshatched landscapes make great vacation activities as it gives you an excuse to sit on the beach longer.
Experiment with Different Landscapes
Now that you know the basics of crosshatching a landscape, experiment inking different landscapes. For water and sand, try using wavier or shorter lines. For rocks and trees, try different directions for your lines to capture the shape of the side of the object. Pen and ink was the preferred method of illustration back in the 1800's but it's still a wonderful medium for capturing the beauty of a landscape. It just takes a little practice and some experimentation to create a wonderful image.