I am having problems with the shading of my sketches and I would appreciate it a lot if you could help me. I read ccsear's thread about hatching but I don't know whether it's because of my English (I'm not a native speaker) or what, but I am struggling with describing form in a smooth and clean way. Since Ccsear's post is almost dead, I would love to have your help so that I can keep on practising as I've been doing so far.
These are the last sketches I've tried to draw from imagination and using the so-called hatching (I say so-called because maybe I'm doing it so wrong):
As you can see, I just discovered that even rounded forms can be split into planes and I probably went too far with that (it's been really fun though).
The problem is I don't understand how I can make it so that it looks better and clearer (more like flesh and less like that, whatever they look like). Does it have anything to do with my strokes? Do I need to make them closer so that there is no blank space (which could make it look textured)? Is it better to try to divide everything into planes or should I follow the form with my lines even though they wouldn't be parallel?
Or maybe it's because I need to study far more anatomy so that I know all the planes of every single muscle of the body. If that's the reason of my sketches' flatness please let me know and I'll work hard on anatomy, muscle after muslce.
Also, I am using a HB mechanical pencil, is that alright? Maybe they look too soft and I would need to use a softer pencil to get the value, but I think it's more important to get to know how to do it properly first, later think of the pencil.
I think the anatomy flaws are more of a distraction than the shading. They have a certain grotesque quality that gets exaggerated with the hatching. I would spend a lot more time defining the forms at the beginning (make sure you use a good reference photo) and use longer strokes that follow the various contours of their bodies. Right now it looks more like both people are really hairy than that they have dramatic light cast upon them.
The shading actually looks pretty good. I think it's simple anatomy issues that are causing the end result to falter. Here's a test--use a compass or trace a cylinder to get a perfect circle, and shade that. Then draw a cube and shade it, etc. Do that for a few basic shapes and post the result. Then we can see if the problem is in the initial drawing or the rendering of it.
I quite like the shading on the works you've posted, though. It looks.. old-timey and cool. And the hatches actually kind of look like skin hair or something, so it does look fleshy. I think it's just the value range--the sharp contrast between pure white and nearly black sections, like the girl's hair in the second picture--that give the work an unnatural feeling.
Also, quick note, but a couple places are lacking a core shadow (girl's torso in second, etc). ;__; You used it some places but forgot it elsewhere. Don't dooo thaat. For example, again in the second picture, you put a core shadow on her tummy, but not for the sides of her torso--thus, her stomach looks really round and 3D but her sides are just flat. That's probably responsible for some of the flatness, too.
I think you need to return to post 46 of your sketchbook and look at your notes. The problem isn’t with your pencil grades, it’s that your hatching is off and yes, you could use some more practice drawing the figure before attempting to crosshatch value. In ccsears thread he has examples of hatching on basic geometric shapes like spheres, cubes, cones, etc and you should practice those before you attempt the human body- let alone one from imagination. Find objects around the house that are really simple shapes, point a light on them and focus on hatching those shadows. Remember that hatch lines can also be curved to bend around the form of an object like a cylinder… they are not always straight.
One thing I notice right away is that you are overstepping the contour lines of the body with the hatching. Look at the left arm of your first picture. It looks hairy because the hatching has extended beyond the edge of the arm. It shouldn’t do that. The direction of your hatching is off too. Limbs are kind of like cylinders and if you put hatch marks going in a vertical direction up and down by themselves then they will start to look like hair as well. That’s what is going on in the inner part of the right leg of your first picture.
Try to make your hatch lines longer, and all exactly the same length. Try to make each line parallel to each other. Your lines almost look like dots, aimless dashes, or that you were really, really rushed or impatient. It will take some time to make your hatching look effortless and accurate, so be methodical and take all the time you need.
Try to draw something from life with hatching, really try to capture the form. Anything around the house, vary the lighting etc. You'll grasp it better than trying to do it from your head since hatching is just using parallel lines to give the illusion of shade and texture. So the better you can describe a form in general the better your hatching will get either way. And yes as other people said anatomy. Just keep practicing.
You are worrying about the wrong thing. It's not a technical problem with hatching or whatever. What you need is develop more skill at understanding and constructing the form, and tracking the light. The hatching will take care of itself when you get a grasp of the form.
So do studies from life. Start with simple still life: boxes, books, eggs, teapots...
I can't thank you enough, thanks for the responses!
This is a little test I did before attempting to draw the first weird woman, hope it helps you to see the problem clearer. I did try to follow the form in some of these basic forms such as the cylinder or the lemon-like shape.
It looks like all of you are right, I need to 1) keep my lines really parallel and longer, 2) follow the form and make sure I know where the core shadows are, 3) study anatomy or look at references and 4) (last but not least) don't rush. I will try to draw some arms or legs to test your tips so that you can let me know whether I got the idea. Again, thank you all. This is very motivating for me because I love being pushed to keep on practising and learning =)
PS: I outlined the second sketch on purpose because I thought it'd look nice. Obviously, this works when you got the right hatching..
Ok, I tried to shade some random forms by following the form this time.
- I've drawn the same belly of that monster woman to try to spot any difference. I also drew the so-called path I was following when drawing the belly. I've got a doubt here: do I have to draw the whole path (the whole curve) or is it ok to show it partly? Maybe because of that it looks weird or you can tell I used strokes. Would it look smooth and more coherent if first I used a whole gray tone for the form and later I added the shadow (so that there isn't any blank space without lines)? This drawing, which I love, has lines partly, the author left blank spaces so lines wouldn't follow the whole path, just "guessing" the overall form (a good example is the shoulder blade). Does it have anything to do with the size of the drawing? Because the bigger the image the less noticeable the lines are.
- The weird form at top right was made on purpose using short lines so that edges looked stronger or sharper.
- The image next to the cone could be some kind of leg (although my anatomy knowledge, as we have seen, needs improving) and I tried to use curved lines there too.
From your examples, I've noticed that you are trying to "curve" your lines. Also, I've noticed that the lines aren't of a consistent length/separation from each other. This is critical for having a smooth look. Because of the curving lines and not equal spacing, everythings seems to have a "hairy" look.
In my example that I show (of one of my drawings), I try to make sure that the lines are close together, equidistant and short. So, rather than curving your lines across the sphere, it's a lot of really short strokes working out from the darker section to the lighter section.
Now, I tend to work with pencil first, to get the drawing down. In pencil, I will block in the dark areas and the light areas. Then I will use a mid-tone hatching over those areas. Try not to put ink in the white areas at first. Then cross-hatch the really dark areas working out from the dark center to the light center (Just don't go too far into the light).
When someone tells you to practice or keep studying, it's not just "ok do this one more time". No one expects this miraculous improvement with just "one more drawing. Keep going.
So keep going and posting on your sketchbook. You'll have to keep going a lot.
Arshes Nei, thank you for answering but I think you got me wrong. Actually, that's what I am trying to do, I keep on posting exercises on my SB and it's been ages since I last tried to "finish" something because I know that practice and understanding are the really important stuff. Maybe I suck at drawing, but I spend hours drawing boxes and trying to do things from the basics.
I just started this thread to discuss about a technique I started using and since ccsear's thread was not active, asked for your help. I know there is not such a thing as shortcuts in art, I just wanted to know whether it was me and my poor understanding or how I was hatching, that's it. Now I have really helpful responses and I thank you all for helping me. I'm sorry if this had to be moved or was inappropiate.
Doug, thanks a lot for that response!! it makes more sense now that you guys have written all that, I need to pay much more attention to my strokes and don't rush. I will try to follow your advice with simpler things first
I know this post was almost died and I have uploaded this on my SB as well, but just in case someone tries to look up hatching and finds this post from google, I would like to re-confirm what you guys said about hatching. I've been practising a lot and this is starting to get decent (I still need to improve a f*ck load, anyways). I know even tomorrow I'll feel these are crap
I have made some notes and uploaded them (please correct me if I am wrong). I hope it helps other beginners. If you read my notes you'll notice it's a summary of what Doug, Arshes Nei, Analoxe and the rest said. THANKS A LOT GUYS, I will keep up the training.
My crosshatching improved noticeably just by studying R. Crumb's work. A lot of it is controversial and disturbing, so I would suggest grabbing "the sweeter side of R. Crumb" as a starting point when learning how to crosshatch. Gradually work your way towards the shocking stuff later on if you like what you see initially.