This style of drawing always fascinates me but I can't find what this category is.

Albrecht Dürer's Perspective Machine

Here is another example from Eric Mahler:

Eric Mahler

And another one from Tom Gauld:

Tom Gauld

Line Drawing doesn't quite fit. Is there a better name for this common style?

  • 2
    BTW year 1530 is a little peculiar in the first drawing A.Dürer. died in 1528. In web we can find nearly same drawing with 1525.
    – user82991
    Aug 3, 2019 at 23:20

3 Answers 3


Albrecht Dürer's drawing is technically a wood carving - a common method to make printing plates to print drawings onto paper. The method has been used in Asia at least 1000 years, but in Europe it became common in 15th century. Gutenberg's typesetting made wood carving soon obsolete for printing texts, but for image printing it was used a long time.

The others are line drawings which have lines which somehow resemble the lines in old wood carving prints, but stylistically they are quite different due the hundreds of years elapsed after Dürer's times.

The sameness is in the way how the density of lines create apparent greyshades. In addition Dürer and Mahler seem to have presented the curvatures of the surfaces with curved lines. That's not used in your last example which is much more primitive - only outlines and shadings, no surface form lines.

BTW. The primitiveness is quite random term. As well it can be said modern, because the common print method of today has even less functions for the smallest printed element - a dot.

  • Thank you. Very thorough answer. Searching for "wood carving" and I found "wood engraving" and it's very close to what I wanted.
    – Sam R.
    Aug 3, 2019 at 20:27
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    In engravings the cutted hole in the surface is the wanted result. In Dürer's drawing the untouched wood is the wanted final result. In printing engravings are used by filling the holes with ink and by wiping the untouched areas clean before pressing against paper. It's called gravure printing.
    – user82991
    Aug 3, 2019 at 20:35
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    @norberpy - the printmaking technique is usually called a woodcut in English - it's a method of carving in relief rather than engraving which is technically an intagglio (incised) technique, commonly used with copper or metal plates.
    – Billy Kerr
    Aug 3, 2019 at 20:37

Scratch-board artwork

You might also be interested in scratch-board or scraper-board techniques that approximate some of these effects. Although the process is different, the line quality is/can be very similar.

scraper-board artwork

  • 1
    Many, many years ago in elementary school the teacher forced us to fill a paper with black wax crayon. Then we were ordered to draw something by scraping the wax off. She had some of her own examples which resembled a little your attachments. Me and most of the others wanted to get rid of the job as fast as possible, but 2 pupils took it seriously and created something which really seemed to be more than elementary line drawings or random noise. There was even some shadings. We called them teacher's pets because they were superior in everything including math, music, knowledge and sports.
    – user82991
    Aug 3, 2019 at 22:17
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    My introduction to scratchboard ended in pure astonishment. We (students) were instructed to colour with crayons a white Bristol board with random patches of various colours a few inches in area to fill the page to the edges. We were to saturate the surface. Rub hard. No spaces. Great! Okay! Then, in turn, we watched the teacher with a huge #18 brush, cover our work with India ink! Completely! We were mystified. The ink dried. We waited as the boards were passed back. Now what? The teacher scratched off the India ink revealing a coloured line against a severe black background. MAGIC.
    – Stan
    Aug 3, 2019 at 22:50
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    I read a lot of Jules Verne as a kid growing up in Czechoslovakia in the 1970's; lots of great line drawing illustrations there! There exists a Verne-inspired classic 1950's Czech film, Invention for Destruction by Karel Zeman that incorporates line-art animations.
    – Kaz
    Aug 4, 2019 at 4:56

The style of drawing is called hatching. It uses closely spaced lines to suggest tones and shading. The technique is often extended further by layering the lines on top of one another at varying angles, which is known as cross-hatching.

The linear nature of hatching is well-suited to mechanical processes which reproduce images in printed media. So for example engravings, etchings and woodcuts all commonly use hatching. But these printmaking technologies shouldn't be confused with the drawing style of hatching itself. The Albrecht Dürer work is reproduced from a woodcut which makes extensive use of both hatching and cross-hatching - but many woodcuts are mainly composed of simple lines and solid blocks, with little or no hatching at all. And of course, the use of hatching is not limited to printmaking: it is an artistic technique that can be incorporated into many different forms of art.

  • Great answer. I think hatching covers all other answers so far. Thanks.
    – Sam R.
    Aug 5, 2019 at 16:10

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