How to Utilize Erasers to Achieve Realism

Erasers are a large part of achieving realism in drawing, there are many types of erasers and some of them are electric. Drawing realistically means utilizing erasers to their full potential.

Erasers are powerful tools that can be used to create different effects, especially when portraying light angles and creating illusions. In this chapter, we will discuss types of erasers and different ways to utilize them.

How to Choose an Eraser
        The best way to choose an eraser that works for your style is to put different erasers to the test while you draw. Testing other artists' tools and equipment should be the artist's expedition or a treasure hunt to find the right tools.

What may work for other artists might not work for others, however, testing as many tools as possible would help you find the tools to work with. In contrast, Kneaded Erasers and Electric Erasers tend to be easy to use and produce desirable results.

Once you find the tools that work for you, it’s time to develop a special connection to the tools, know your tools in and out, when to use them and how to use them. It is that special connection that helps you produce realistic drawings.

Top Two Erasers

The science of Light can be showcased using erasers,  erasers come in different types and forms, all producing different results with different usage, and some might produce the same results. Below are the types of erasers that made the top two lists;

  • Kneaded eraser (recommend, must have)
  • Electric eraser (recommend, optional)
  • Rubber eraser (optional)
  • Gum eraser (not recommended)

Figure 13. (the Figure 12 images are not drawings, they’re actual images illustrations)

The general use of erasers is to erase mistakes or unwanted strokes of pencil from the paper, but also erasers are powerful tools to communicate visibility and tone up the light spots to showcase strays of lights.

For example, a kneaded Eraser was used to illustrate the effect of light hitting the skin of an eye in the image below in figure 14.

Figure 14.

[Tip]: Always count on your first impression, the human eye is not easy to deceive. When you look at your drawing and your inner voice agrees with you, that is what you are looking for. On the other side, if you ignore what your inner voice is telling you, someone else will notice the imperfection or mistakes.

In the drawing illustrated in figure 14, the eraser played a bigger role to create the depth of a tear. The good part of learning to use erasers is that the skill can be applied when drawing other objects like shiny metal, glass, or water surfaces as well.

Erasers are so powerful when used creatively, the creative way to use erasers to achieve realism is to see pictures (a picture you are drawing) in shapes. If you adopt the perception of seeing the object you are drawing as shapes and understand lighting, you start to understand the connection between one shape to another.

Seeing a reference image you are drawing in shapes helps understand gradation and connection between one shape to another. This helps achieve the right perspective/angles that bring the drawing together.

Kneaded Eraser

One of the advantages of using a Kneaded Eraser is simply that it can be molded into different shapes and forms that you are comfortable holding in your hands. The electric eraser, on the other hand, can be sharpened, and adjusted but can not be molded as the Kneaded Eraser does.

Electric Erasers

Electric Erasers have smooth pointed endings that allow artists to erase or muddle graphite across a drawing area. One of the advantages of using an Electric Eraser over a Kneaded Eraser is that the wisp of an eraser can spin, and rotate in different directions, some of them with a tweak to it.

 In addition, the speed of the rotation can be adjusted to provide artists with a chance to create effects based on the motion of the hand controlling the eraser, as well as the speed itself. It is because of the mechanical effects or the proportion distribution of graphite from the pencil on the drawing area that makes an Electric Eraser a must-have drawing tool.

Gum Eraser

It is highly recommended to use as many erasers as needed to come up with the best that works. Again, many Artists might have different styles but in this context, we are dealing with realistic drawing. Gum Erasers tend to not help achieve the cleanliness required for realistic drawing. In conclusion, this one is off my list of the top two erasers to use.


In this chapter, we talked about different types of erasers and how they are different. Keep in mind that different Artists use different kinds of tools, what matters is the end result, if you like different sets of tools keep them close as long as they make your drawings come to life.

Importantly, we talked about how erasers can be used not only to erase mistakes but also to morph a drawing into shapes distinguished by lighter and darker spots. This is powerful to understand as it will make a difference in your drawing. When using an eraser, keep in mind that the same technique you would use when shading in circles or lines using a pencil can also be applied when using an eraser.

        As we conclude this chapter, I want to leave you with an important tip: when utilizing an eraser, make sure to not leave hard edges or hash strokes of erasers behind, instead be gentle when erasing because erasers can damage the drawing too. The same principle ( not leaving hard edges or hard lines when using a pencil ) can be applied to an eraser as well.


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