Step-by-step: Using an eraser by Emma Wilde


This guide demonstrates the versatility of the eraser.  As well as being able to remove mistakes, it can also be used as a drawing tool, especially when working in graphite. It’s certainly underrated.

It’s best to avoid rubber erasers (they’re often pink) or vinyl erasers as they respectively shed their shavings or are so tough that you have to be extremely gentle with them to avoid ripping your paper.

In this feature, we’ll use a soft eraser and a battery powered eraser.

We’ll begin with the soft art eraser.

A soft eraser is great for using on its longest edge to remove wide areas of graphite quickly and without the risk of tearing your artwork.

On my image, I’ve used ground dust from XL Graphite Blocks which has been applied with cotton wool to cover the full space.

To avoid misshaped edges , it is best to use a paper mask or ruler to get crisp lines at the correct angles. Press hard against the edge of the paper mask with the side of the eraser and rub away in even, directional marks.

Once I’ve completed the left-side of my graphite removal, I cover that section with a sheet of paper to maintain the crisp lines and avoid graphite being caught in the image.fig-4-battery-eraser-leaves

The second piece of paper also ensures that the angles are correct. As I’m working on a drawing with such defined angles. The paper mask gives you a guideline to work to.

As you work  from the bottom left corner clockwise, your image will begin to form from your eraser. By using the flat edge to remove the big areas, you can also use the corners to complete detailing, be it brickwork, windows or items in your background.

Although equally as durable, a battery operated eraser adds a versatility. A battery operated eraser can be manipulated to create  finer detailing and will remove graphite cleanly and efficiently.

Again, my image has been created with graphite powder from XL Blocks, this time in the shape of the foliage on a tree.

At this stage, the shape is broad and the eraser will be used to create definition and shape.

Using a scalpel, cut the eraser at an angle to give you a fine point to add detail.

Your battery-operated eraser can be used like a white pencil, working on black paper. Here I’ve used my eraser to create small wavy marks to give the effect of leaves on a tree.

Changing the pressure that you apply with the eraser will help give the effect of tone in the leaves. Pressing hard will take the graphite back to white and releasing pressure will create mid tones on leaves where some of the graphite remains.

Pencil can be used to add further detailing and more realism to your image. Setting your tree and rubber marks against a darker background will add some perspective to your image.

Similar steps can be used to create grass. If you shape your eraser at an acute angle with a sharp edge, you can create fine lines.

fig-4-battery-eraser-grassBegin to remove the graphite in fine vertical strokes to give the effect of long grass. Pencil can be used in varying shades to create tone and shadows in the grass. A selection of overlapping tones gives movement and a sense of thickness to your grass.

If you want to add additional detailing, weeds can be created by quickly dotting the flat edge of the eraser. I’ve used mine in small circles to create dandelion clocks.

Erasers are often underused or used only to remove mistakes. However, an eraser can make a great drawing tool too!