Erasing Colored Pencils can be very helpful. As an artist, I tend to use colored pencils to sketch. Red pencils to be precise! It is also very common for animators, as well as illustrators, to use red pencils when sketching. Why? The main reason is that of its contrast.
Red is a very bright color and it’s the one that draws more attention, so when drawing on a piece of paper, it’s easier to see your lines and to find the mistakes you’ve made, so you can change them.
Now, we’ll talk about how to erase a colored pencil, but first of all:
Is your Colored Pencil Erasable?
Colored pencils are hard to erase and in truth, most of the times it will be impossible! At best, you’ll be able to lighten up the lines you’ve made with your pencil.
But, don’t worry, for not all is lost!
There are actually some brands that make erasable color pencils. Personally, I never used them (I’m interested in trying them, just, sadly, never found them in my city).
I’ve heard great things about the Prismacolor line, Col-Erase!
These pencils are specifically made to be easily erased and you can find them in any Amazon, if not by Prismacolor, there are other cheaper brands with this type of pencil, although I can’t vouch for their quality. Do let me know if you try any of them!
Up until a few months ago, I used a Faber-Castell Polychromos red pencil, which, if you like sketching with colored pencils, I’d really recommend! It was my favorite to use so far, its touch is very comfortable and, even if you can’t erase it completely, it’s still manageable to a certain point.
Right now, I’ve been using Caran d’Ache Prismalo. These pencils are water-soluble, this makes them softer, which means it’s also easier to erase if needed, although, once again, some of the colors will still remain on paper.
Up until a few years ago, I would sketch and draw mostly with graphite, but since discovering colored pencils for sketching I haven’t been able to go back to it!
Colored pencils tend to be softer than graphite, so I can make smoother, more dynamic moves with my pencil and the color contrast also helps me see my sketch much better.
So, if you haven’t tried it yet, I do recommend to give it a try!
Use Specific Erasers for Colored Pencils
When using colored pencils, a regular eraser just won’t do. It will probably smudge your paper or worse, damage it! (read more about my Recommended Erasers here)
There are a few options you can use:
- Kneaded Eraser: this type of eraser is malleable, so you can shape it with your hands however you want. It can erase graphite, charcoal, and pastels as well. It’s usually more suitable to erase smaller areas than big and, especially with colored pencil, do mold the eraser everytime single time you used it on your drawing so that the pigment won’t smudge your paper again. That or you can just rub the eraser in an extra piece of paper. This way you have somewhere you can use to clean your eraser.
- Eraser Pencil: this is basically a pink eraser inside a pencil, it will last you for a very long time and you can just use a normal pencil sharpener on it anytime you need. This is very useful if you need to correct small details and mistakes in your drawings!
- Artist Tape: this is a kind of tape made specifically to be used on paper since it doesn’t have as much adhesive as a plastic one. You just need to cut a piece of tape, apply it to where the mistake is and then lift it off! The pigment will stick onto the tape and erase any mistake you did.
This can be a tricky technique though, since you can easily miss the spot you want by accident or, if you’re not careful, take some small pieces of the paper.
But it’s all a matter of practice and if you’re unsure, just take some tries in a piece of paper with some loose colored pencil lines until you’re confident in your artist tape skills!
- Electric Eraser: a favorite among a lot of artists! Although I never used it, this eraser can erase even darker marks that would be very difficult to erase by hand. Not only that but as you learn how to use it properly, you can have some fun with it and experiment doing some highlights with the eraser, which, from what I’ve heard and read, gives a very neat effect!
Once again, I’d advise you to practice with it a bit before using the eraser in actual pieces, so you can get the hang of it and to its touch. Whenever you feel confident with your electric eraser, go wild with it!
Erasing Without an Eraser
This one might sound very weird, but a very popular alternative for when you’re in a pickle and have no eraser around is, grab yourself to your seat, bread.
No, I’m not joking! Just take out a bit of white bread (no crust) and roll it into a ball, then use it, gently, like you would with a kneaded eraser. It might sound pretty surreal and a waste of bread, but if you have nothing else, do give it a try!
Rubber bands and, honestly, anything rubbery should do the job as well.
Just be careful that it doesn’t smudge your work, so do test it first to make sure you won’t mess up your drawings.
Another curious option, if you’re really with your hands tied, would be using the sides of a flip-flop!
Since it’s also a rubbery object, it could do the job, although it’s a very big item, so if you have no intention of using it anymore, maybe cut some smaller pieces so you can use and be able to see what you’re doing!
Erasing Pencil Marks on Watercolor
If you’re a fan of watercolors and you struggle with the pencil marks that just won’t leave your paper, this section is for you! Once you applied your watercolors, it makes it hard to erase your pencil sketch underneath it, so the best way to deal with this problem is how you work with your pencils before applying the watercolors.
- Use a soft pencil: soft pencils are easier to erase as well as they’re easier to use lightly. This way you can erase it at will or make almost no pressure on your paper and your sketch will be very light and not very visible. Later when you’re watercoloring the drawing, you won’t see any of it and since there wasn’t a lot of pressure, your paper won’t be marked either!
- Erase most of the sketch: after sketching your drawing, erase it as much as possible, until you can’t almost see it! Having as few graphite lines or colors in your paper will avoid it from being seen later on.
- Use watercolor pencils: using watercolor pencils in the same range of colors you intend to use later will make them dissolve as well as you paint and this way your sketch lines will disappear completely! Just don’t put too much pressure on them as well, so you don’t mark your paper and so that they can dissolve into the rest of the paint.
In general, if you keep your lines soft, as you paint and as you practice, you’ll learn to use the watercolors to your advantage and be able to hide your previous lines and make it look like they never existed! Another option, which a lot of artists use, is to use the lines in your drawing. If that’s your style, the lines can be part of your pieces as well. It all comes down to personal taste!
Don’t Erase Too Hard!
When using any artistic material, it all comes down to this. Don’t use them too hard, be gentle with your materials. When using them too hard, chances are, you’re going to ruin your work! Learn to use your tools and how much pressure you should apply to them, according to the effect you want.
Remember that when drawing, you’re doing it because you want to have fun and to relax if you’re applying too much pressure or using your materials too hard, it might be because you’re too nervous or frustrated. You might notice that when you begin drawing, you don’t feel as confident and so your lines are harder and less fluid. As you learn, you’ll notice that everything will look smoother and lighter.
This happens mostly because you believe more in yourself and because you stopped worrying about the end result and just take pleasure from drawing.
The same applies to erasing! The ideal way is to just try to not use erasers at all. Little by little, try to just let erasers go, keeping your mistakes in your sketchbook pages, learning with them and, with practice, later on, you won’t repeat them.
Like we talked before, erasing too hard might result in a crumpled paper or worst, you’ll rip your drawing! And you won’t want that.
It will only leave you angry and frustrated.
So do try to learn to use your eraser fewer times!
Prevent Erasing Too Much, Draw Lightly at First
A bit on the same topic, in order to not use your eraser too hard, draw lightly on your paper. This way there’s no need to apply a lot of pressure when erasing. If you use a soft pencil, it will come out very easily!
Alternatively, if you sketch your drawing very lightly when drawing and painting the final piece on top of it, your sketch will be almost invisible or even be somewhat part of your piece! Totally up to you and what you like.
Once again, try to practice your lines, so you can feel more confident in them and less afraid. This helps you in drawing lighter and more fluid lines!
Summing It Up
Do try to avoid using erasers whenever you can! But, if it really calls for it, there’s a lot of possibilities and different kinds of erasers you can try and save your drawings with. Colored pencils might be harder to clean, but it’s doable. So experiment as much as you want, gain confidence with them and try different erasers until you find one that you like to have close by whenever you need!