3 Useful Kneaded Eraser Techniques for Realistic Drawing

Video Transcript

When it comes to realistic drawing tools, your kneaded eraser is almost as important as your pencil. Let's get into why they are so great, and three ways to use them!

Kneaded erasers are sold in packages like this (bottom left image). You actually have several erasers in here, because you don’t have to use this entire thing at once. I like to remove a piece that’s about this size (bottom right image) and use it until it’s time to replace it. I’ll show you how to know when it’s time to replace a kneaded eraser that later in the article (or video, if you prefer to watch above!)

3 Factors set the Kneaded Eraser Apart from a Typical One

Factor 1:

1. A kneaded eraser doesn’t leave residue and eraser bits on your drawing. Removing residue left by a typical eraser can easily disturb the drawing surface, especially if it’s in charcoal, so most of the time it’s best to avoid this scenario.

Kneaded eraser does not leave eraser bits

Factor 2:

2. Once a kneaded eraser has picked up pencil dust, you can clean it by kneading it between your fingers. (Like magic!)

How to clean a kneaded eraser

And most importantly...

Factor 3:

3. You can shape a kneaded eraser into different forms depending on how you intend to use it. This makes it not only an indispensable erasing tool, but a drawing tool as well.

Shaping a kneaded eraser into different forms

3 Techniques to Use with your Kneaded Eraser

Technique 1

You can shape a kneaded eraser into a pencil point and use it to lighten specific dots or small inconsistencies in value. This is extremely helpful when you get to the advanced stages of shading and refining your drawing.

Kneaded eraser technique 1

Technique 2

You can give the eraser a flat, sharp edge and use this edge to:

  • erase sharper lines,
  • create sharper lines, or to
  • clean up and sharpen an edge.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of edges, watch Lesson 6 of my free Mini-Course.

Kneaded eraser technique 2

Technique 3

You can flatten the eraser so it has a large, flat surface area and then, using the flat underside,  drag it over an area of your drawing to lighten it.

This is the trickiest technique of the 3 - it’s very easy to lift off more value than you intend to, or to erase in a streaky way. Sometimes before I use this technique, I lightly drag the eraser over a different area of my drawing to coat it in a thin layer of pencil dust (watch the video above for a demonstration). This helps me remove less value more evenly from the area that I actually want to lighten.

This technique will definitely take the most practice and finesse to use effectively.

Kneaded eraser technique 3

For the most control and stability, use these techniques while anchoring your hand. I demonstrate how to do that in my How to Hold and Control Your Pencil video.

How long will a kneaded eraser last and when should you replace it?

One of these will last for quite a while - it depends on how much you use it, and what kind of pencil dust you are erasing. However, eventually it will become so saturated with pencil dust that it will no longer lighten even when you knead it (no pun intended!)

When to replace a kneaded eraser

It may also eventually become sticky, or lose it’s malleability. When any of these things happen, it’s time to replace your eraser with a new one, because it might start leaving marks on your drawing instead of removing them.

What brand should you use?

I tend to use the one pictured in the video: General's Jumbo Kneaded Eraser, but I have used others in the past that have worked equally well (such as Prismacolor and Faber-Castell).

Give these techniques a try, and for more video tutorials on realistic drawing, check out my free Mini-Course!

Happy drawing!

Your drawing prof,

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