All the major brands make good erasers. In that sense, recommending the “best choice” is a bit misleading. In this post, I’ll tell you the best erasers for drawing by type, I’ll tell you what they do, how to use them, and suggest some trusted brands. I’ll also list the erasers I use personally.
The best erasers for drawing are kneaded erasers, vinyl and Hi-polymer erasers, pen erasers, and electric/battery erasers. Choose a major brand, one you can replace easily, or buy replacement refills.
I’ll list the most obvious erasers associated with pencil drawings, plus battery erasers, and a trade secret that no one talks about. Then I’ll finish by listing the erasers that I use personally.
So let’s get going
Disclaimer: When you buy something via my affiliate links, I sometimes earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend trusted sites.
Kneaded erasers, also called putty erasers or putty rubbers, are essential for any artist, especially beginners. As the name suggests they are kneadable, and can be easily molded into any shape to erase with precision or across broa
Some brands offer very soft erasers while others are very firm. I’ve noticed that Rowney, here in the UK, sell soft and hard versions of their putty rubbers. It appears as if they are giving you choice, but if you’re a beginner, it’s just confusing.
Using Kneaded Erasers at a Glance:
- Non-abrasive and gentle on the paper
- Can be reshaped and reused multiple times
- Picks up graphite, charcoal, and colored pencils
- Not many crumbs are left behind
- Good for small areas and tiny details
- Can be used over large areas
- May not erase as cleanly as other types
- They get dirty quite quickly and become less effective.
- Faber Castell Kneadable Art Eraser
- Staedtler Kneadable Eraser
- General Kneaded Eraser
- Winsor and Newton Kneaded Putty Rubber (UK)
Tips for Use:
- Warm hard erasers in your hands to make them more malleable
- Shape the eraser into a fine point for precise erasing
- Stretch and fold the eraser to expose a fresh surface after use
- Store your kneaded eraser in a container to keep it clean
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Blu Tack (Poster Putty or Mounting Putty)
Blue Tack, also known as Poster Putty in the United States, is a versatile, reusable tacky adhesive commonly used for hanging posters and securing lightweight objects to a wall.
While not specifically designed as an eraser, Blu Tack is a useful tool for artists as it can effectively lift graphite from paper without causing damage.
Using Blu Tack (Mounting Putty) at a Glance:
- Non-abrasive and gentle on paper
- Can be reshaped and reused multiple times
- Perfect eraser for working on small spaces and fine details. Better than a kneaded eraser
- No crumbs are left behind
- Creates interesting textures and effects in graphite
- Will leave an oily residue if left on the paper for long periods of time. Some brands advertise non-stain
- It lifts graphite by dabbing or pressing, not by rubbing
- No good for large areas
- Can become less effective over time due to the accumulation of graphite
Tips for Use:
- Shape the material into a point or edge for precise erasing
- Press the material gently onto the paper and lift to remove the graphite
Gum erasers are made from soft, crumbly rubber and are useful for erasing large areas without damaging the paper. They are extremely soft and crumbly. Few serious artists will want to use them. They are far too messy.
Using Gum Erasers at a Glance:
- Gentle on paper
- Effective for erasing graphite and charcoal
- Crumbles away as it erases, leaving a clean surface
- Not suitable for detailed work
- Will leave crumbs everywhere.
Tips for Use:
- Use a light touch to avoid smearing or buckling the paper
- Brush away crumbs with a soft brush
This includes Hi-Polymer and Vinyl erasers (PVC). They are made from plastics of various hardness and are known for their ability to erase cleanly and for leaving very little dust. They are harder than natural rubber (pink erasers) and care is needed not to damage the surface of the paper.
Using Plastic Erasers at a Glance
- Great eraser for removing graphite, ink, and for charcoal drawings
- Erases cleanly with minimal pressure
- Long-lasting and will not degrade or go brittle
- Can be cut into a wedge shape for sharp edges
- Almost dust free
- Can be abrasive on delicate paper
- Some plastic erasers contain harmful chemicals such as phthalate or latex
- STAEDTLER Mars Plastic, Premium Quality Vinyl Eraser
- Pentel Hi-Polymer Block Eraser
- Faber Castell Dust-Free Vinyl Eraser
Tips for Use:
- Use a light touch to avoid damaging the paper
- Use a clean corner for erasing
- Use a blade to cut clean wedges, for erasing super-fine lines
- Test on a scrap of paper before using it, or swipe it on work jeans as I do
Natural Rubber Erasers
Natural rubber erasers are the most common type of eraser, they are eco-friendly and unfortunately, they aren’t very good.
They are the classic school erasers, and the type you get on the end of a pencil. If you remember, they’re crumbly and leave dirty marks. Few serious artists use this type of eraser.
Using Natural Rubber Erasers at a Glance:
- Environmentally friendly and made from natural materials
- Effective for erasing graphite marks and charcoal, if you’re careful
- Cheap and come in different colors – woohoo!
- Not be suitable for detailed work
- Can become hard and dries out over time
Tips for use:
- Make sure you keep real rubbers erasers clean before you use them
- Don’t use the rubbers at the end of cheap pencils and expect results!
Synthetic Rubber Erasers
These are plasticized versions of the real thing. They look and feel like rubber erasers but they don’t dry out and are slightly less messy.
Using Synthetic Erasers at a Glance:
- Doesn’t degrade
- They’ll do if there’s nothing else to hand
- Too much plastic in this world
- No good for erasing small details
Tips for use:
- Keep it clean until you get something better
Pencil and Pen Erasers
Pen and pencil erasers work in a very similar way. Wooden pencil erasers have an eraser core that can be sharpened to a point like a standard pencil. Pen erasers have retractable refills in a plastic pen-like holder. Pens have a round or rectangular-shaped core.
Using Pencil and Pen Erasers at a Glance:
- Convenient and portable
- Ideal for drawing streaky textures such as hair and fur
- Can be sliced with a blade to draw a razor-sharp white line
- A precision tool for highlights and fiddly corrections
- The small size is not suitable for larger areas
- Pencil erasers can wear out quickly
- Refills are over-priced
Tips for Use:
- Use to draw whickers and stray hairs
- Slice the tips to get a clean sharp line
- Use fine sandpaper to maintain a sharp edge or point
Sand erasers, also known as ink erasers, are designed with a mixture of sand/silica and rubber. These are the best erasers for removing ink, pencil crayons, and to some extent, markers. They’re abrasive and effectively scour the paper surface to remove the medium.
Using Sand Erasers at a Glance:
- Effective at removing ink and other difficult-to-erase marks such as ballpoint pens
- Can be too abrasive on delicate or thin paper
- Not suitable for detailed work
- Not suitable for use with watercolor washes
- Ruins the paper surface
Tips for Use:
- Use a gentle touch and test the eraser on a scrap piece of paper before using it on your artwork
- Hold the eraser at an angle for better control and precision
- Gently brush away any residue or debris after erasing
Electric or battery erasers have a spinning rubber/vinyl nib that removes marks with amazing precision. They can remove light graphite entirely and dark graphite very well indeed.
Using Electric (Battery) Erasers at a Glance:
- Fast, efficient, and clean
- Brilliant for detailed work and creating small highlights
- Can be used with various types of eraser refills
- Can be held like a pencil
- Some studio models are expensive
- Cheaper models require batteries
- They eat through eraser refills
- Refills for some brands are hard to find
Tips for Use:
- Hold the eraser like a pencil for better control
- Sharpen the nib to a pencil point using fine sandpaper
- Use electric eraser pens to dot the highlights in an eye
Taking Care of Erasers
For the most part, caring for your erasers is pretty straightforward.
- Store erasers in a clean, dry place to prevent contamination and prevent them from drying out and becoming brittle
- Make sure your hands are clean. Most problems occur with greasy erasers
- Clean your erasers with cloth regularly
- Replace erasers when they become hard, discolored, or lose their effectiveness.
I like to use Faber-Castell kneadable erasers, not because they are superior to other leading brands, but because they are sold in small plastic containers so I can always keep them clean
I know from experience that when I leave a putty eraser in my pencil case it picks up dust, shavings, and graphite. It’s very annoying.
Battery erasers are easily damaged. Be careful with handling. I use Jakar battery erasers and they are so cheap I always have a spare to hand.
I like to buy the Jakar eraser nibs in bulk because they only last a short while and cost me next to nothing. Keep them stored properly to prevent them from drying out.
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How to Use Erasers Properly
Beginners make mistakes, and they are only obvious after you’ve made them. Save yourself some heartache and take note of my advice. I’ve been drawing for decades.
1. Keep Your Erasers Clean
Don’t believe claims that an eraser is smear free. That’s not my experience. All erasers have the ability to leave permanent stains on your paper, but some are worse than others.
It only happens when you develop bad habits, so always clean your eraser. Make it ingrained and you will limit your chances of causing damage.
Clean your hands and clean your erasers. Wipe your erasers clean with a dry cloth, fine sandpaper, or on a scrap of paper. Not only does it remove excess graphite, but it also removes any greasy residue that might be contaminating the surface.
2. Secure Your Paper Before Erasing
It’s so easy to get overconfident and buckle your paper by rubbing it too rigorously. Secure one side and rub away from it, and never towards it. Only rub back and forth if the paper is secured on all sides, and then only lightly.
Choose the right Paper: What is The Best Paper for Graphite Pencil Drawing?
I like to hold down one side of the paper firmly with my left hand and erase away from it with my right hand. Make it automatic.
3. Use a Soft Brush to Remove Eraser Dust
Don’t blow the eraser crumbs away and don’t swipe them away with your hand either. I know, from experience, that you’ll end up spitting on your drawing. Nine times out of ten all will be fine, and then you’ll have a sip of coffee and – Disaster!
You might not think you’d be so daft, but believe me, no one does. Get out of that habit before you learn the hard way.
Likewise sweeping the crumbs away with the palm of your hand is also courting trouble. You are damaging the drawing every time you disturb the surface and you won’t notice it’s happening.
It’s only when you erase a ‘white’ area that you realize that it has turned grey and the whites have vanished. Don’t do this to yourself. Take a look at the side of your hand and make sure that it’s not covered in graphite. It’s a dead giveaway.
Use a feather brush or even a soft make-up brush to flick away the “bits”. Better still, hold the pad or your drawing board upright and tap the back.
4. Don’t Over-Erase
Be careful how much you erase over one area of your paper because it’s easy to ruin the surface.
I am a perfectionist and overworking an area is a common issue for me. There have been times when I have destroyed the drawing surface, it’s easily done.
I prefer to draw on paper with a slight tooth. I use fine-grained cartridge paper. The problem occurs when I rub out an area and lose the paper texture. It’s the grain that holds the graphite and gives it some punch. When the drawing surface is flattened the effect is lost.
It’s tempting to ‘draw and erase’ too many times in an attempt to rescue the error. This compounds the problem and before you know it, the paper is dangerously thin.
I hope you won’t need this: How to Repair Drawing Paper: 9 Ways to Rescue Your Artwork
Thankfully, since discovering electric erasers those issues are now a rarity. Battery erasers are so capable and precise, that spoiling the surface is seldom a problem. Battery erasers have been a game-changer for me.
5. Use Your Eraser as a Drawing Tool
Erasers are not only for correcting errors, they are an essential drawing tool for creating textures and effects impossible to achieve using graphite pencils alone.
You’ll probably be aware that you can use an eraser to lift out highlights, but they’re also invaluable for creating half tones and dappled texture too.
My technique enables me to lift very subtle layers of graphite without erasing the whole area. I like to roll a kneadable eraser into a ball and dab it over some soft graphite, scribbled on a scrap of paper.
The eraser lifts off a heavy patch of graphite which I dab on a clean scrap of paper to remove the excess. It can then be used to dab dark areas of your drawing that need to be slightly lighter.
6. Use Your Eraser to Make Amazing Textures
One of the most effective uses of an eraser is for creating random textures that look insanely detailed.
My eraser of choice is Blu-Tack. It lifts off graphite more effectively than a putty eraser and can be molded into twisted random shapes, or pressed onto textured surfaces.
I like to shade over an area of the paper with a soft pencil and press or dab the Blu-Tack randomly over the surface. Sometimes I roll a ball of Blu-Tack across the paper and see what happens. It is hit-and-miss but I can start over and try again.
This technique is particularly effective for drawing rocks and tree bark
These posts will help you:
- How to Draw White Lines in a Pencil Drawing: Do This…
- How to Draw Texture in Pencil: 7 Tips for Realistic Results
No one else tells you this stuff.
My Favorite Erasers
Choosing the right eraser for the job is a little bit subjective. It’s a judgment call and depends on the type of drawings you make and the medium you prefer.
I draw detailed life-like animals, mostly wildlife studies, and some are hyperrealistic. My style is meticulous and it’s for that reason I favor the erasers that give me the most control.
This is a list of my favorite erasers and why I like them:
- Winsor and Newton kneadable putty rubber: I use this brand because it’s the one I chose when I first started 40-ish years ago. It has a tendency to go hard in cold weather, so I have to warm it up sometimes.
- Rowney kneadable eraser: My substitute if the local art shop has run out of Winsor and Newton. They are much the same. They have soft and hard choices. I prefer soft.
- Faber-Castell kneadable eraser: A soft eraser that can get too soft in very warm weather. Comes in a tiny plastic box for storage which is so handy.
- Blu Tack: An indispensable part of my kit. I can twist the putty into a thread and gently brush the surface to erase erroneous marks and blemishes seamlessly.
I use Blu Tack mainly for dabbing out textural effects. I use it to dab out pale patches and dots, and not to erase as such. I’m not trying to get back to the white paper.
- Vinyl Eraser: It’s tricky to include this one because honestly, it makes no difference to me. I don’t use one very often. I use them mainly to cut off wedges so I can erase thin lines.
- Tombow Mono Eraser Pen: The finest eraser pen in their range, the Tombow Mono is perfect for drawing fur or hair. I use a blunt eraser nib and drag it randomly in the direction of growth, and alter the pressure as I do so.
I cut the nib with a sharp knife and use the edge to swipe it across the surface to create highlights or whiskers.
- Jakar Battery Eraser Pen: Probably the cheapest battery eraser on the market and such a joy to use. It’s tiny and fits snuggly in the hand. I can take it anywhere and it only needs two AAA batteries. I couldn’t find it on Amazon US for some reason.
I use it to draw the tiniest details that need to be pure white and are impossible to achieve any other way, other than drawing around the space. I sharpen the rubber nib to a point by spinning it, at an angle, over very fine sandpaper, and draw insanely fine lines and micro dots.
The Best Erasers for Drawing: Final Thoughts
Don’t get too hung up on choosing the perfect eraser. It’s more important to choose a good eraser from a trusted brand and use it the right way. You’ll need different kinds of erasers for different mediums.
Experiment and try out a few different types of erasers. Why not? they are so cheap. You’ll find some minor differences between them, mostly concerning your preference for hard or soft erasers.
I’m a graphite artist with a particular style. If your style is fast and loose, you’ll prioritize different erasers. Likewise, if your medium of choice is pen and ink, charcoal, or pencil crayon you’ll make different choices too.
Most reviews you’ll see elsewhere are fairly meaningless, in as much as their recommendations are no better or worse than comparable brands.
The only grey area, as far as I’m concerned, is with battery erasers. I tried out the Derwent battery eraser and I preferred the size and speed of the Jakar. The Derwent refills were longer too but that allowed them to bend in use. If I didn’t have such a perfectionist streak it probably wouldn’t matter.
I chose a Jakar eraser and was so happy I didn’t feel the need to explore further. I’m sure the best studio electric erasers with all the various speed settings and choices of nibs, do a great job, but they’re not portable, and that’s important for me.
I hope this guide helps you to filter out the noise and make an informed decision.
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