The right rubber acts as a superhero: it’s readily saving the wonderful worlds which you are creating with graphite pencils.
The wrong one can ruin your drawing.
What Different Rubbers Are Capable Of?
There’re 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 colored white, yellow, green, etc.
They are usually made of natural rubber and pulverized pumice (volcanic ash). Pumice is an abrasive substance, its particles removes both pencil marks and some pen lines.
Those firm erasers are precise enough. A pink pearl pulls graphite by slow shredding itself over the paper. When rubbing with it over-aggressively, you risk tearing your artwork.
Artist’s Gum Rubber
Art gum is very soft to touch and doesn’t damage paper.
But keep in mind: the gum-like 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 correction fine details.
Art gums are available in various colors, from semi-transparent to brown.
Vinyl, or ‘plastic’, rubbers are usually white.
Plastic erasers remove almost everything, even ink, and smear nothing – the pigment is absorbed into the discarded vinyl scraps.
Those rubbers, unlike a standard pink pearl, are non-abrasive, but sometimes they also spoil paper: if you apply strong pressure, the paper is crumpled.
I would recommend using a vinyl rubber only to erase little pencil marks quickly and completely.
There is another problem with vinyl. I mean phthalates, a chemical additive that provides the flexibility of stationery plastic. They are considered to be potentially harmful.
Today many big companies (for example, Factis, Faber-Castell) manufacture tough rubbers 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 and have all its advantages and disadvantages.
Rubber in a pencil form, which can be sharpened to a point, provides super-precise erasing.
I’ve already written about eraser-tip pencil from ARTEZA, read the post here).
Kneaded (Putty) Rubber
This fun art tool looks like grey chewing gum. Erasers of that sort are pulled with ease thanks to their plastic consistency.
Kneaded rubbers, like the others, work by lifting pigmented particles off, yet they don’t leave little smearing debris, don’t harm paper.
That ‘chewing gum’ is a must-have if you draw with regular pencils or charcoal sticks. It will help you to lighten small dark areas and create interesting textures.
The good way to use a kneaded eraser is not to rub but to press, rotate it.
On the negative side, you’ll have to often pull and fold your putty rubber 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 draughtsman. Buy items from reputable manufacturers.
Have a selection of different rubbers 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 with a hand the pieces that leave after rubbing because your hands may be sweaty and oily. Purchase a special drafting brush.
Let your art tools will rid you from the fear of making mistakes!
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