Portraiture, Fine Art, & Photography

Commission a Portrait for the Perfect Gift!



Custom Search
Choose a Service

Cleaning Up Your Act

Erasers are a necessity, plain and simple. Not only can you use them to fix mistakes but they can add highlights, help you blend, and clean up your final drawing. Erasers come in many different varieties which can perform different tasks. Below is a list of erasers that you should never be without.

PEN ERASER - As the name suggests, this is a pen shaped cartridge with an eraser stick that can be advanced or retracted at the push of a button. Pen erasers come in different sizes, with thicker or thinner eraser sticks. I prefer the Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick. These have a vinyl based eraser that removes lines cleanly. Also, the sticks are smaller than average so you can easily erase small areas and add small highlights.

KNEADED RUBBER ERASER - These erasers are soft and pliable and can be molded into any shape. Never be without one of these one of these on your drawing desk, you will find them indispensable. They have many different uses, and are excellent for highlighting and blending. I like them for highlighting skin tones because they pull graphite off the paper but do not leave any harsh lines. Instead of using a rubbing motion, you can simply dab them where you want to remove graphite. They can also be formed into small points to erase very tiny areas. Another benefit to these erasers is that they do not leave behind shavings. In fact, they can be used to pick up the shavings left behind by other erasers. I have also used them to create textures. For example, if I want a mottled look, I apply graphite to the paper Then I flatten a rubber eraser and use the end of a mechanical pencil to put indentations in it. By pressing the indented eraser to the paper, is removes the graphite only where the high points touch the paper. By doing this repeatedly, it can create interesting mottling for skin or other objects.

VINYL BLOCK ERASER - Vinyl erasers are useful for cleaning up the large areas of your drawing. They erase cleanly and will not damage paper if used properly. The blocks can easily be cut into different shapes with a razor blade so you can use them for other tasks as well.

Here are some basic erasing tips:

  • Never use a colored eraser (especially those died pink or red) since they usually leave discolored smudges on paper.
  • To clean up eraser shavings use a new, clean, soft brush. A paint brush or large cosmetic brush works well. Try to get out of the habit of blowing shavings off your paper or brushing with your hand. Blowing can get saliva on your drawing, and water of any kind damages graphite or paper. If you use your hands, most likely you will just smudge your work and the shavings will stay behind. A clean brush however, will remove the shavings and picks up a minimal amount of graphite, if any. Occasionally you should wash your brush soap and water since it may eventually pick up enough graphite to start leaving smudges. Of course, always be sure it is completely dry before using it again.
  • When erasing, beware of pressing too hard and damaging the surface of your paper. It works much better to erase lightly several times, then to try to remove it all at once by applying a lot of pressure. Keep in mind that some lines may just be too dark to remove completely. If you see your paper starting to become rough where you have been erasing, it may be time to try a new technique.
  • Keep your erasers clean. If they are coated with graphite, they will lay down more pigment on the paper than they pick up. I rub my Pen Erasers and block erasers over my sanding board to remove the outer layer of graphite and get back to a clean surface. You could also use a razor blade on your block erasers to cut off dirty corners. Rubber erasers do not clean well, so if they reach the point of being tinted with graphite. Then it's time to get a new one to use for erasing, and use the old one only for shading and blending.

In conclusion, keep a variety of erasers on hand when you are drawing. Experiment with how they remove graphite to create different effects.


In the next article . . .


Once you have a finished drawing, how can you keep it from smudging?


Learn about spray on fixatives in the next article: Fixatives: To Seal and Protect.

Back to List of Articles



All content and original art works © Nicole I. Hamilton.

Reproduction or use of any content or works without permission is strictly prohibited.

web hit counter