Eraser

Tool Time: Black Eraser- Remove Mistakes without Damaging your Paper

 

which way you ought to go depends on where you want to get to... 

There's a certain logic to what the cat said to Alice. You need to know where you're going before you decide how to get there.

When you make a mistake with colored pencils, there's not a one size fits all solution. Smart colorers evaluate the damage and decide upon the path that gets them around the mistake without creating a ton of damage in the process.

Erasers are not magical. They can't remove the whole mistake. They can only remove enough to get you back on the correct path.

An eraser is not a time machine, it won't take you back to the day before you made the mistake.

Huh. That's a rather important statement. So let me say that again, in bolder, bigger letters:

 

an eraser is not a time machine

We're talking about colored pencil here. Just colored pencil. Because if you're here looking for a marker eraser, boy, are you fresh out of luck. You can minimize marker damage with a colorless blender but you're never going to do more than camouflage your marker mistakes.

But back to colored pencil- and for that, I'm sorry break this to you, but there's not going to be a perfect erasing solution here either.

You can minimize the damage but you're never going to take yourself back to fresh clean paper. Erasers are not the stuff of H.G. Wells.

I think part of the problem is because we call them colored pencils. When you hear pencils, you think graphite and for every graphite pencil, there's a pretty good eraser, right?

Now if we were more accurate and we started calling colored pencils what they really are... I'd suggest calling them  freekishly-stubborn-sticks-of-color-that-ain't-goin'-nowhere, but that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue... But if we really did call them FSSoCTAGN, then people would stop expecting to be able to remove every single colored pencil mistake they ever make.

A colored pencil eraser can't take you back to Eden, it can only make you feel a little less miserable about goofing up.

 

So let's review the primary rule of erasing mistakes:

First, do no harm.

Protect the paper tooth! | VanillaArts.com

Remember, paper has tooth and tooth is essential to good colored pencil coloring. Tooth is what grabs your colored pencil pigment and holds onto it. Colored pencil doesn't work well on glass, does it? It doesn't work well on glassy papers either. Tooth is vital to the coloring process.

ALL ERASERS DAMAGE TOOTH

There's no way to avoid it. Any rubbing, any friction, any eraser will flatten out the paper tooth and thus make it harder to color over the erasure zone.

So when you make a mistake, start with the lightest, most paper friendly eraser you can find. You don't have to pull out a hand grenade when a fluffy bunny will work.

Made a mistake? Start here:

  1. Sticky Tack Eraser- this is your fluffy bunny eraser. It lightly lifts color without damaging your paper. Read more about sticky tack and how to use it here.

  2. White Polymer Eraser- if the fluffy bunny doesn't work, try your new best friend. White erasers are non-abrasive and grit free. That means they rub without sanding away much of the paper surface. Most of your mistakes can be removed with a white eraser. Read about white erasers here and here.

But if the fluffy bunny can't handle the mistake and your new best friend doesn't make a dent in it, what should you do?

That's when you call in the big boy. BUT ONLY AFTER YOU'VE TRIED THE STICKY TACK AND THE WHITE ERASER!

Who is the big boy?

 
The big boy, the black polymer eraser | VanillaArts.com

Meet the Black Polymer Eraser

They're made by several companies, Factis is the kind that just happens to be at the cash register display of my favorite local art store.

The curse of the black pearl | VanillaArts.com

Pentel, Faber Castell, Staedtler, and Tombow also make good black erasers. The one you want to avoid is the Black Pearl variety.

Just remember the Johnny Depp movie, the Curse of the Black Pearl. That's easy to remember.

A black pearl won't ruin your life but it is way too abrasive for our needs. Save it for the class room.

By the way, that goes for white pearls and pink pearls too. They're all school erasers, not art erasers.

 

 
 

So what's so special about a black eraser?

Well, he's a body builder compared to our other erasers.

We started with the weakest eraser on purpose, but sometimes you need more muscle.

In the eraser world, abrasive grit is muscle. Grit is what's ultimately going to remove the mistake.

But it's a trade-off- grit gets the job done but it'll also damage the tooth. So we want something muscular but with control.

We want a smooth operator; a big guy with some sensitivity. We want don't want the Terminator, we want the Kindergarten Cop. That's the black polymer eraser.

Choose the weakest eraser for your needs in order to save the paper | VanillaArts.com

Here's a sample of each eraser at work on a thick and heavy coat of Prismacolor Premier pencil.

Sticky tack lightens the area. It doesn't erase, it takes the sting off the mistake. Once you've lightened the mistake, you can layer on the correct color. Prismacolor is fairly opaque, this gentle re-coloring process is usually all the correction you need.

But if if isn't enough, try the white eraser. It's stronger than the fluffy bunny sticky tack but you're still preserving the tooth of the paper. Lift what you can and then recolor the zone.

The black eraser is your last resort. It removes most of the color, but it will never get it all. Remember, we are deliberately avoiding the hand grenade in order to keep as much tooth intact as possible.

 

The black eraser has a slight bit of grit so it can remove most of the color. It doesn't have enough grit to dig down into all the crevices.

Think of what's leftover after a black eraser as the Cheshire Cat's smile... the old pigment is still there but it's not enough to get in your way anymore.

Black polymer erasers remove just enough color to allow you a re-try. The downside is that if you over-rub the area with a black eraser, you will damage the paper. That's why it's the eraser of last resort. You never grab the black eraser first; use it only when the fluffy bunny and the best friend white eraser aren't lifting enough color to control the mistake.

And no, it won't leave a black smudge on your paper. I wouldn't do that to you! Good black erasers erase cleanly.

 

Here's the rundown on black polymer erasers:

Alternate Names-

Black PVC eraser, black polymer eraser, black poly eraser

Brands- 

Factis, Pentel, Faber Castell, Staedtler, and Tombow

Defining Features-

A rubbery eraser with a slight bit of grit, black in color but erases cleanly

Best used on-

Works great on graphite projects. Good on wax based colored pencil marks and other media that sit on top of the paper surface. Will not work on liquids like ink or paint that absorb into paper fibers.

Price Range-

Prices vary, usually under $4 per eraser. Sold in multi-packs

Available at-

Some art stores, some craft stores, most online art supply retailers

 

So to recap: No time machines, only fluffy bunnies, BFFs, and Cheshire cats... 

We're either talking in code or we're all mad here.

 

Tool Time: Peel Off Eraser for Colored Pencil Coloring

 

I'm doing the Snoopy dance!

Why?

One of my students gifted me with a wonderful eraser!

Thanks, Elise!

So why am I all geeked up about an eraser?

Check this out!

Peel Off Magic Rub eraser for colored pencil | VanillaArts.com
Old Soldier, Plastic Eraser | VanillaArts.com

My students are very familiar with my poor, sad, but well loved brick vinyl eraser.

It's pitiful, isn't it?

I know my brick eraser has seen better days but it still works wonderfully... after so many years together, I'm kind'a fond of the ugly thing. It's hard to even consider putting the old gal out to pasture.

But this new pencil style?

Whoa, baby!

It's got all the non-abrasive goodness of my big ugly Brontosaurus combined with a nifty precision tip for getting into teeny areas. This new guy is the Velociraptor of the eraser kingdom. Rawr!

Plus, it has that cool retro peel-off system that I loved as a kid. My dad had tons of wax pencils around the house, they were so bright and fun to color with. Don't tell my dad, but I was the one who peeled an entire dozen new red wax pencils... boy, was he ever mad!

Yes, I've got more than a few click style erasers, but the tip on this pencil version is halfway between the click-stick and the size of the teensy erasers on the electric models. I love this more than the click-sticks.

I have a few students who insist on using the wood pencil style typewriter erasers and those things are absolutely evil to paper. Perhaps this Peel Off Magic Rub eraser will give them the feel of a typewriter eraser without the potential for project killing paper-damage.

Peel-Off Magic Rub Eraser by Sanford. Give it a try. I'm lovin' mine!

 

Affiliate links:

Here area few options for peel-off erasers plus my favorite tiny white eraser

VanillaArts.com
 
 

Tool Time: Sticky Tack Erasers- gentle correction for colored pencil

 

Primum non nocere- first, do no harm

Abrasive Detail Erasers- Total Overkill | VanillaArts.com

This is something that runs through my head when a student pulls out one of these to correct a colored pencil mistake.

This is a detail eraser. It is designed to scrub away ink or grease mistakes from office grade, smooth paper. It is a very firm eraser which allows it to be sharpened to a fine point for small areas. It's also highly abrasive which means it rubs away more than just the mistake, it takes off the top layer of stained paper fibers with it.

But for soft, waxy colored pencil on delicately toothy paper?

You might as well use a hand grenade.

If you've got one of these weapons of mass destruction in your art kit, go put it back in the office drawer, where it belongs.

Right now.

I'll wait here.

I've been using colored pencils on an almost daily basis for over 25 years. I can honestly say that I've never encountered a situation where a mistake was so bad that it required stripping off the entire top surface of my paper.

Yes, I've made serious mistakes, but nothing that ever required the use of a hand grenade.

 

Colored pencils work best on toothy paper

Toothy paper for colored pencil | VanillaArts.com

Tooth is texture; tiny little micro mountains that grab and hold colored pencil pigment.

If you've tried using colored pencil on slick paper, you know how hard it is to get it to lay down smooth and not rub off. It's like trying to spread peanut butter on freshly Zambonied ice. You can try but hey, good luck with that.

Paper quality is a big deal; toothy paper is something colored pencil artists pay extra for.And that hand grenade eraser up there? It'll kill your paper.

 

Respect the tooth

Now I'm going to assume that most stamp colorers are using some form of office grade cardstock for colored pencil. There's nothing wrong with that, not all projects deserve special paper.

But that doesn't mean that you can ignore the tooth. In fact, because you're using only moderately textured paper, you need to protect the limited tooth EVEN MORE than someone working on generously toothed, premium cold press paper.

Abrasive erasers wear the paper smooth. The more you rub, the less tooth survives. So yes, you may have removed the offending mistake but when you reapply color, that smoothed area will not grab the colored pencil the way it did before. If you really damage the paper, you'll have a shiny zone that stands out to viewers.

So when you make the inevitable mistake and you reach for an eraser, remember Primum non nocere- first do no harm.

Start with the most gentle eraser you can find. If that doesn't lift the error, then bring out a slightly bigger gun. Do not start with a Tyrannosaurus Rex eraser; start with a soft, fluffy, white bunny rabbit.

 
 

Sticky Tack is the fluffy bunny of the eraser world

Lift mistakes with sticky tack | VanillaArts.com

Sticky tack?

Yep. Poster putty. The stuff that your fourth grade teacher used to put "Hang in There" and "Give a Hoot, Don't Polute" up on the class room walls.

This stuff.

Duck is a good brand, so is Scotch Brand. You want the white kind, not the softer blue or green versions.

Pull off one  strip (there's usually 8-12 strips per package). A single strip is enough to last for at least 6 months. You'll need a small airtight container (film canister sized) to hold your working piece. Pop the rest of the package into a zip lock bag for longer term storage.

 

This is not a kneaded eraser substitute

Gently lift errors with sticky tack | VanillaArts.com

Gray kneaded erasers are for working with charcoal, graphite, and chalky dry pastels. You drag gray erasers across the paper to gently lift powdery marks. Gray erasers are lightly abrasive and they are not sticky enough to lift stubborn and waxy pigments like colored pencil.

Sticky tack is lightly sticky. That's why it works. Use it the same way you used Silly Putty to lift up your favorite Sunday Comics.

  1. Soften and knead the sticky tack into a smooth, warm ball.

  2. Gently press into the surface of the mistake.

  3. The sticky tack will grab the paper; hold the paper down with one hand while gently peeling away the sticky tack with the other.

  4. Knead the residue into the eraser to create new clean surfaces.

  5. Repeat as necessary until you've lifted away the mistake.

Sticky tack lifts colored pencil without damaging the paper | VanillaArts.com

I know it sounds crazy but this stuff really works. Best of all, it doesn't damage the tooth of the paper the way rubbing erasers do.

The other benefit of this lift and remove method is that it eliminates transfer smudges. Let's face it, it's pretty easy to drag Prismacolor pigment into unwanted areas. I wear a drawing glove to prevent hand dragging marks. Rubbing erasers often pull color into your cleaning area... which then requires more rubbing. It's a vicious cycle.

Lifting mistakes straight upward eliminates the potential for eraser smudges.

 

When I make a mistake, I grab the sticky tack eraser first

As I said, start with the fluffy bunny, not the T-Rex.

If the sticky tack can't remove the oops, move up to your white eraser. But give that sticky tack several tries first, because the white eraser will drag and transfer pigment.

But honestly, the sticky tack almost always removes enough of the pigment that I can go back and add the correct color.

Remember, you don't have to get down to naked paper in order to fix a mistake. Most Prismas are fairly opaque and can cover over much of the mistake.

 

So here's the rundown on sticky tack erasers:

Alternate Names-

Sticky tack, poster putty, sticky stuff, adhesive putty

Brands- 

Duck, Scotch... choose a quality WHITE putty. The dollar store stuff was gooey and left residue. The colored versions seem to be softer but less sticky. Make sure it's fresh and clean, the once-used stuff in your junk drawer may have collected grit.

Defining Features-

A soft putty that clings to waxy pigment enough to lift it away but will not damage the paper or leave a residue.

Best used on-

Wax based colored pencil marks and other media that sit on top of the paper surface. Will not work on liquids like ink or paint that absorb into paper fibers.

Price Range-

Very inexpensive. One package will run just a few dollars and provides enough for several years of daily use.

Available at-

Office supply stores, hardware stores, or similar aisles in any big-box retailer.

 

Sticky tack... who'da thunk?

Go get some today, your tooth will thank you for it.

Art tips and tools  VanillaArts.com

Tool Time: White Eraser (Your New Best Friend)

 
Best Tools for Paper Crafters- White Eraser | VanillaArts.com |   #copic #adultcoloring #howtocolor
 
 
 

Frustration takes the fun out of coloring!

And I suspect that much of the irritation we face during our crafting sessions is self imposed due to faulty or inappropriate tools and supplies.

Think about it - what's more fun? Going out for a Sunday drive in a Lamborghini or in an '87 Yugo with one flat tire?

Please don't tell me you're a Yugo fan...

The thing is, you don't really have to have the sports car to enjoy a pleasant drive. You can have quite an enjoyable time in many makes/models of car. But that trip in the Yugo is going to cause more than a few gray hairs before the adventure even starts. Sure, a 3 wheeled hatchback might make for awesome yard decor but it's not exactly road ready material.

When you grab the wrong tool for a crafting job, it's like choosing the Yugo over the Lamborghini, every single time.

Let's make our lives a little easier (and a little more enjoyable) by looking at good tools. Some will be expensive, others will be dirt cheap. The point is that they work well and will improve your coloring sessions.

 

First up: Your new best friend- the white PVC eraser

 
White PVC Erasers are wonderful | VanillaArts.com
 

Forget about odes to Grecian urns, if I was even remotely poetical, I'd write an ode to white erasers. Whether in brick, stick, or pencil top form, Vinyl erasers are a modern miracle.

Even if you don't draw, you will use this eraser! When you measure, draw straight lines with a ruler, and especially when you're penciling in a detail to color later, this is the tool for you. It's also essential for colored pencil coloring.

It's a great all around eraser. I'll cover other erasers in future Tool Time articles but if you're only going to purchase one eraser, this is definitely the kind to get!

 
 

Alternate Names

PVC, Vinyl, Polymer, Poly, Plastic, Non-Abrasive, and Technical. These are all different descriptors for roughly the same thing.

By the way, my daughter has about 3,000 little novelty erasers shaped like hamburgers and strange Japanese hamsters. While these may be vinyl and some are even white, they are not what I'm talking about here.

Brands 

Staedtler, Pentel , Tombow, Campus, Lyra, Faber-Castell, Nayana ... these are just the top names, there are tons more. They're all slightly different and some work better than others, but I've never encountered a white polymer eraser that didn't do a good, scratch that, great job of erasing basic work marks.

Defining Features

This is a soft plastic, almost rubbery eraser which contains no abrasive pumice or grit. It feels smooth and buttery when rubbed against paper and it leaves a minimal amount of debris.

Best Used On

Excellent for graphite (pencil lead) in any hardness. Moderately effective on waxy colored pencil and firm chalk pencils. Excellent for finger and hand smudges that collect on the borders of your work.

If I need to erase something, this is the first eraser I try because it's gentle. I may end up moving to something more abrasive for stubborn marks, but I always begin the process with my white PVC eraser.

Styles

For years PVC erasers came in brick style only, usually with a cardboard sleeve which kept large bricks from cracking.  For greater control, try a stick version. White vinyl erasers are pretty standard on top quality technical pencils but I've also seen them on the disposable PaperMate level mechanical pencils. Artist-grade electric erasers use PVC erasers. The most recent development has been a micro sized PVC eraser in pen form, the Tombow Mono Zero eraser, which is excellent when working in small areas.

Note: there are also very similar PVC-Free white erasers on the market. For the record, that's the only white eraser that I've ever hated. It was oddly soft and it developed small cracks on the first use. I quit using it when large chunks started coming off, about 2-3 weeks into daily use.

Price Range

Very inexpensive. Small bricks and sticks are often found in value multipacks for under $1 per eraser. The Tombow Mono Zero eraser is around $5.

Availability

Very widely available. Art stores, craft stores, office supply stores, and in the office supply area of many big-box retail chain stores. Online at numerous retailers.

 

Here's why you need to ditch the pink eraser:

 
PVC vs Pink Erasers | VanillaArts.com
 

Both Samples are #2 Ticonderoga pencil cross hatching, firm pressure on vellum surface Bristol Board.

The left has been erased by a fresh Pentel "Clic Eraser" #ZE22 PVC eraser (the purple one shown above)

The right is erased using the same Ticonderoga #2's factory installed pink eraser. Eraser is fresh, not hardened, and first time used.

Here's the deal with white erasers, not only do they erase pencil marks better than the old-school style pink eraser but because they're non-abrasive, they leave the paper fibers relatively intact.

Don't get me wrong, EVERY eraser on the market will damage your paper to a certain extent but the less damage you cause with each erasure, the better. If you're someone who is heavy handed or you go back and erase your marks a lot, you most likely have noticed damage zones on your paper. These are areas where the Copic Marker doesn't absorb properly or where Prismacolor just won't stick. Using a PVC eraser will help to limit the number and severity of your damage zones.

PVC erasers definitely leave a slight sheen on the paper surface but that's nothing compared to the pink smudge left behind by the pink eraser. That pink residue won't scrape off, it's embedded into the paper and is at some angles, a very noticeable discoloration.

 

Brand Differences

I'm not terribly picky about my white eraser brand. Having said that, it should be clear that I'm not buying them at the dollar store. I tend to pick them up as impulse purchases at the art store, so I'm usually purchasing an established name brand in the mid-range price.

One thing I have noticed however is that some leave more carnage behind than others.

By carnage, I mean the funky residue that you have to sweep away.

Staedtler Plastic Grand Eraser | VanillaArts.com
Pentel Hi-Polymer PVC Eraser | VanillaArts.com

Staedtler's erasers leave the usual debris behind. The Pentel Hi-Polymer brand always forms just a few, long threads of residue. So Pentel leaves your desk area a little cleaner.

I had heard about Moo erasers from Nayana Co. when I was researching what to use for hand-carved stamps from erasers. So I picked up a two pack; they were very inexpensive.

Not only does Moo leave A LOT of carnage all over your paper, but when you touch the eraser with your fingers, you can rub even more off. It's not that it's gritty, dry, or funky feeling - it just constantly sheds. So while Moo works fine, I've decided not to buy that brand again because I think excessive shedding = a shorter life span for the eraser.

Moo PVC Eraser | VanillaArts.com
Mod Podge brush for sweeping away debris | VanillaArts.com

And by the way, this is what I use to sweep away the eraser carnage:

It's a 2.5" soft Mod Podge Brush. It's supposed to be used as an applicator but it's so soft and fuzzy that it's perfect for brushing aside eraser residue or the dust generated by Prismacolor pencils.

I wish it had a hole in it so that I could hang it up, but other than that, I love this little guy.

Do not use your hand to sweep debris aside. You'll either transfer body oil to the paper or you'll accidentally drag the debris hard enough to leave a skid mark. If you don't have a brush, try to blow it away. The key is to be gentle!

And yes, I did have a really nice professional, expensive drafting brush which I used frequently until it mysteriously disappeared from my desk one day. I found it in the kitty litter box. I'm not sure why my husband or my 5 year old put it there but I'm sure they had a really good reason.

Needless to say, I do not have a really nice professional, expensive drafting brush anymore.

 

PVC erasers do require care

Dingy PVC Eraser | VanillaArts.com

White erasers tend to hold on to the graphite or colored pencil that you have erased. This is a problem because you can accidentally transfer color to other areas of your art.

This is what graphite buildup looks like. It also holds on to Prismacolor especially well.

Cleaning it is simple - no special tools required.

Rub the eraser clean on your pants. Jeans work best but here I am wearing a pair of khaki pants. It won't transfer to material, your pants are completely safe.

If you're not brave enough to use your pants (or maybe you're not wearing any...) find a washcloth or keep a scrap piece of fabric in your art supply box.

Get into the habit of always cleaning it off before use. That prevents the oopsies.

 
Cleaning a PVC Eraser | VanillaArts.com
A Cleaned PVC Eraser | VanillaArts.com
 

And by the way, I never clean mine off this well, a couple swipes to clear the area I intend to use is usually what I do. In fact the original dirty photo (blue background) is exactly how it normally looks, I swipe off the end before using, I never clean off the whole darned thing unless I'm taking a photo of it for the website.

White erasers - an all around, gentle tool that I use daily. Consider adding them to your tool box today.

 

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