Artist Guno Park opens up a world of mark-making possibilities with Zebra Pen. See his drawing process and try a step-by-step exercise.

I think of drawing as a symphony of marks—an artist’s orchestration of lines, smears, and hatch marks that tells a visual story. Drawing is a way to use organized marks to create linear shapes and to apply various levels of value and color in order to communicate a point of view visually.

Here are a few of the mark-making techniques I often employ:

  • Patch crosshatching: crosshatching that’s messy and expressive
  • Contour crosshatching: crosshatching that’s controlled and descriptive
  • Textural hatching: also known as scribbling
  • Stippling: creating areas of light and shadow with dots
Guno Park uses the Zebra F-402 ballpoint pen to practice spacing, consistency, and alternating directions.

Mark-Making Materials

Depending on the size of the drawing I intend to create, I alternate between using a fine liner pen, a ballpoint pen, and a brush pen. The Zensations line of pens by Zebra Pen offers a wide range of line types and a rich, black ink. These tools allow me to work either loosely or with precision to create the type of textural effects I need, depending on my subject.

When working with ballpoint, my go-to pen is the F-402, which has a medium point size and a comfortable rubber grip that allows for a long session of drawing with minimal strain. I also like the medium point F-701. Its textured steel barrel provides rugged durability—perfect for drawing on-the-go.

Light and Form

I employ techniques that allow me to build up forms and textures in a drawing line by line, mark by mark. Before I pick up a tool and start drawing, however, I first have to understand how to break down the visual information in my subject. In order to apply the optimal number of marks in the appropriate areas of a drawing, I need first to consider two things: form and light. There are many other considerations as well, but these are both very important aspects.

In terms of form, there are a few things that I contemplate: perspective is a major one, as well as silhouettes and proportions of major and minor shapes. Once I’ve determined the placement of the horizon line and the vanishing point or points, I’m able to create the object or space in the desired perspective.

When figuring out the perspective, Guno first determines where the horizon line will be; then everything revolves around it.

Next, I establish shapes using the horizon line as a guide for proportions. When I place these shapes into the picture frame, I think about negative versus positive space and the suggestion of depth and space in the composition.

In addition to form, light is another important consideration. The type of light illuminating an object reveals all the potential lines, shapes, volumes, values and textures. The nature of the light is therefore vital in staging the composition of a drawing and leads me to think about levels of contrast, which I can use to describe space, depth, and atmosphere.

Drawing with a dark pen on a light piece of paper illuminates the surface by establishing the shadows—that is, drawing the shadows that are created by the light. I often employ a crosshatching technique to create simple gray scales, as shown in the exercise below.

Exercise: Using Crosshatching to Create Grayscale Values

Starting with three values, I divide the hatch marks in two directions—horizontal and vertical. By practicing evenly spaced, grid-like patterns, I can overlay them to create even patches of values. Once I’m happy with this three-value system, I move on to five values, then seven values. With more patches overlaid on top of one another, I can create more and more values.

Figure 1: Practicing grayscale hatching to control the different values

Next, I practice looking at the forms by deciphering their perspective and structure. In the case of a sphere, I start by drawing a circle. Then I place contour lines around the form to create a grid around it.

Figure 2: Drawing a sphere and controlling texture

I continue my exercise by drawing other geometric shapes such as cubes, cylinders, and cones.

Figure 3: Drawing simple geometric shapes

Then I apply the lines of the hatch marks on each of the forms as though they’re following the contour of the form, as shown below. This lets me think about the surface form at the same time as the value of the shadows by building up more or fewer lines, depending on the tone of the shadow shapes and their directions.

Figure 4: Applying hatch marks to explore surface form and shadow values

You can see below how I’m varying the marks’ directional strokes, the types of marks I use, and the pressure I put into each mark. Depending on what forms and what textures I’m drawing, I adjust these variables as needed to create the drawing I envision.

Figure 5: Creating texture through mark-making

Visual Language

Thoughtfully and carefully placed hatch marks have the power and potential to describe the most complex of forms and are expressed in the most creative ways—like a perfect harmony of notes in just the right timing.

Essentially, what I’m attempting to do with the cross-hatching in my drawings is to create convincing lighting by describing the volume, form, structure, and texture of an object. This can be described as a visual language. Creating a visual message requires understanding of the mark-making language necessary to describe objects visually. In learning and practicing these tools of visual language and practicing how to describe something with it, I continue to explore the possibilities and the boundaries of what a drawing can say.

A successful drawing will involve as many methods and techniques of mark-making as needed to create the most essential and efficient set of marks the drawing requires—both technically and conceptually. The purposeful balance of all these things is what makes a good drawing.

You can also find this story on Artists Network.

About the Artist

Guno Park is a Brooklyn-based artist and professor who captures the people, places, and things he encounters in his daily life through drawing. His work has been featured in numerous publications and is a part of many private and public collections.