Cross-hatch Shading

Cross-hatch Shading lesson plan

Explore the artwork of Rembrandt and observe the mastery of his cross-hatching technique. Students add color to this technique in a drawing of their own!

  • 1.

    Shading is an effective way to add elements of depth and realism to any drawing. Cross-hatching, or shading with lines, is a great technique to accomplish this while adding movement to a drawing. An artist that mastered this technique is Rembrandt van Rijn.

  • 2.

    Show students examples of Rembrandt’s famous etchings. Take notice of his use of lines for shading. How does he use the cross-hatching technique to darken certain areas of the drawing? How does the variety of values enhance the realism of the image?

  • 3.

    On a piece of construction paper, students practice creating different values with the cross-hatching technique using Crayola® Colored Pencils. To cross-hatch, fill an area with closely-spaced parallel lines. Cross over those marks with lines drawn in the opposite direction to darken the value. Experiment with different colors to find which are most effective.

  • 4.

    Students create their own masterpiece using the cross-hatching technique, just as Rembrandt did! Use Rembrandt’s artwork for inspiration. He often illustrated important events, people, and even self-portraits. Students select the subject for their drawing based on these themes.

  • 5.

    On a fresh piece of construction paper, lightly sketch the drawing. Add layers of detail and depth to the drawing. Remember to use the cross-hatching technique! Use one color in the drawing, like Rembrandt did, or liven it up with a variety of Colored Pencils!

  • 6.

    Frame the drawing by mounting it on a piece of dark-colored paper and display the masterpieces in the classroom.


  • LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • LA: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Generalize about the effects of visual structures and functions and reflect upon these in their own work.
  • VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.
  • VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.


  • Students prepare an electronic presentation including samples of Rembrandt's work that illustrates the cross-hatching technique. Upload this presentation to a class computer for viewing.
  • Pair students. Each student sketches the portrait of his partner and practices the cross-hatching technique.
  • Rembrandt lived from 1606-1669. Students investigate the time period and uncover what daily life was like in Europe for Rembrandt. Organize research into an electronic presentation and upload it to a class computer for class viewing.
  • Many artists studied under Rembrandt. Investigate an artist that learned technique from Rembrandt.