The right eraser acts as a superhero: it readily saves the wonderful worlds which you are creating with graphite pencils.
The wrong one can ruin your drawing.
What Are Different Erasers Capable Of?
There are at least five types of erasers.
I’ll describe each and then give you some generic advice on choosing drawing tools. Don’t worry, I promise to be brief :-).
You’ve probably used the so-called ‘pink pearl’. Originally, that combination of words related to a particular product from the company Paper Mate.
The item was a best-seller and now its name is synonymous with all sturdy all-purpose erasers (let’s say, with a nub on the top of a regular pencil).
In fact, pink pearls may be white, yellow, green, or other colors.
They are usually made of natural rubber and pulverized pumice (volcanic ash). Pumice is an abrasive substance, and its particles remove both pencil marks and some pen lines.
Those firm erasers are precise enough. A pink pearl pulls graphite by slowly shredding itself over the paper. When rubbing too aggressively, you risk tearing your artwork.
Artist’s Gum Eraser
Art gum is very soft to the touch and doesn’t damage paper.
But keep in mind: the gumlike material (natural or synthetic rubber plus vinyl compounds) leaves a lot of tiny bits. The ‘crumbles’ coated with the graphite tend to make random marks.
An eraser of that kind will be perfect for cleaning large areas, but it’ll hardly become your go-to tool for correcting fine details.
Art gums are available in various colors, from semi-transparent to brown.
Vinyl, or ‘plastic’, erasers are usually white.
Plastic erasers remove almost everything, even ink, and smear nothing – the pigment is absorbed into the discarded vinyl scraps.
Those erasers, unlike a standard pink pearl, are non-abrasive, but sometimes they also spoil paper: if you apply strong pressure, the paper becomes crumpled.
I would recommend using a vinyl eraser only to erase small pencil marks quickly and completely.
There is another problem with vinyl: phthalates, a chemical additive that provides the flexibility of stationery plastic. They are considered to be potentially harmful.
Today, many big companies (for example, Faber-Castell) manufacture tough erasers without phthalates. Try to find an item with the label ‘PVC-free’.
That’s just an eraser encased in a pencil instead of a lead. As a rule, such rods are produced of vinyl, with all of its advantages and disadvantages.
Eraser in a pencil form, which can be sharpened to a point, provides super-precise erasing.
I’ve already written about the eraser-tip pencil from ARTEZA, read the post here.
Kneaded (Putty) Erasers
This fun art tool looks like grey chewing gum. This material can be stretched with ease, thanks to their plastic consistency.
Kneaded erasers, like the others, work by lifting pigmented particles off, yet they don’t leave little smearing debris, and don’t harm paper.
That ‘chewing gum’ texture is a must-have if you draw with regular pencils or charcoal sticks. It will help you to lighten small dark areas.
The best way to use a kneaded eraser is not to rub but to press and rotate it.
On the negative side, you’ll have to often pull and fold your putty eraser to keep its surface clean. Many artists wash soft erasers when they become dirty.
A Few Recommendations
Remember that cheap, synthetic erasers aren’t the best choice for a draughtsperson. Buy items from reputable manufacturers.
Have a selection of different erasers in your toolbox and experiment with them. It’s okay to modify their shape. I usually cut one of my rectangular erasers diagonally so that it has sharp edges.
Don’t wipe off the pieces left after rubbing with your hand, because your hands may be sweaty and oily. Purchase a special drafting brush.
Let your art tools rid you of the fear of making mistakes!
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