An eraser is a helpful tool for any artist. It’s not just for erasing mistakes, it’s a tool that opens up a whole new world of possibilities in your artwork. Some erasers can even take on a similar role to a pencil and help add depth or textures to your drawings.
In this article, I will provide you with an overview of the different types of erasers that are commonly used for drawing. We will go through the unique properties and uses of each type of eraser, so you can make a better decision about which ones you want to add to your drawing tool kit.
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When drawing, the pencil rubs graphite particles onto the paper, where they stick. This sticking is a physical condition and is called adhesion. However, the eraser offers the graphite particles a better surface to adhere to than the paper, so when erasing, they move from the paper surface to the surface of the eraser.
Here, it is important that spots on the eraser that have already picked up the graphite particles fall off the eraser, exposing new, clean spots that can again pick up new graphite particles.
So the annoying eraser crumbs are crucial to the eraser being able to do its job. If they weren’t created, the eraser wouldn’t be able to pick up more graphite particles, and instead of erasing, it would simply smear the graphite particles around on the paper - and we would most likely mess up our drawing.
This is also the reason why it is better to choose high-quality erasers over cheap smudgers.
Precision eraser in the photo: Tombow Precision Eraser MONO zero
The different types of erasers have their particular advantages and use, through which we can make our drawings even better.
We all know the classic eraser: it is usually a simple white block.
Although it is not known for its accuracy, it can be used to reliably erase any pencil stroke. Rumor has it that its most common use is to remove guides or parts of a sketch that you don’t want to be seen in the later painting.
In my opinion, every artist should own a regular eraser, because it simply belongs to solid basic equipment.
Precision erasers are available in different variants, for example as a lead in a wooden barrel, as a pencil-shaped rubber, or as a lead in a modern pressure mechanism.
The primary task of an eraser pencil is to erase detailed strokes, dots, or other delicate shapes. For example, you can use it to add highlights or light spots to your drawings.
I use the precision eraser from MONO zero, which has a push mechanism. It fits comfortably in the hand and is my first choice when I want to erase small areas in a portrait. For me, it’s like a negative drawing pencil that serves its purpose very well.
A kneaded eraser (also called a kneadable eraser) has the great advantage of being moldable. We can conveniently shape it into what we need when drawing, for example, a sharp tip, a narrow edge, or a large area. It is particularly gentle on the paper and cannot damage it while erasing.
Pressure changes the shape of this soft eraser and it does not erase very much. However, this is intentional when erasing soft light reflections on skin or hair, for example, and should not be considered a disadvantage.
After long use, you should replace the kneaded eraser, as it absorbs more and more pigments in the long run, becoming dirtier and decreasing in quality.
I recommend the Faber-Castell kneaded eraser. It leaves no strange residue on the fingers, absorbs the graphite particles very well, and comes in a transparent storage box so that it is protected from dust or the like and remains clean.