I don't draw much and can't even call myself an amateur yet. As a result I make a lot of mistakes and also many test strokes when drawing.

For small touch ups and mistakes the eraser is my best friend. However, my big white eraser does not help much when I need to only make small corrections. It can remove larger areas around where I am erasing.

Let's say I am talking about erasing small areas less than a centimeter in diameter. What can I do to make my erasing more targeted and only affect the areas I want to remove?

  • 1
    Allow me to qualify what follows by saying, I erase. My mother used to tell me that I should never erase, especially when drawing from life. Our brains signal our hands and often what appears to be a mistake is not.
    – Ace
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:53
  • Hi @Michael! Please note that we are a Q&A site, not a message board/forum. As such, we require that all answers actually answer the question. Since your answer doesn't answer the question as asked, I've converted this to a comment. With enough time and good contributions you can earn enough reputation to comment yourself. Until then, please be sure that any answers actually answer the question.
    – Catija
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:29
  • You might want to blow off the place where you are erasing and brush off the tip of the eraser periodically while erasing to get clean surface after the erasing has been done. Jul 7, 2017 at 18:35

10 Answers 10


Get an erasing shield/stencil:

enter image description here

An erasing shield is a metal stencil that can mask off the parts of your drawing you want to protect, while exposing only the area you want to erase, so you can erase with more precision.

  • This was one of the answers I wanted to fish out. Thanks.
    – Matt
    May 14, 2016 at 2:34
  • Eraser shields offer the most precision available for removal and not-removal. Even the outside edge allows for large protected areas.
    – fred_dot_u
    Feb 10, 2017 at 2:08

I would first suggest a kneaded eraser, if you don't use one already.

A kneaded eraser can be shaped like putty. This means you can form points, lines, and a variety of other erasing surfaces with it. This allows you to easily erase just the place you want.

Additionally, it doesn't erase the same way as your rubber or Mars plastic (polymer) erasers, which leave bits behind and may wear down you paper. It actually lifts up your graphite or charcoal marks. This means you don't have to brush or blow the residue away.

This property also allows you to only partially erase something. For instance, you may have placed a large swath of grey that's a couple shades too dark. You can pat at the dark area to lighten it, instead of erasing it and starting over.

I have tried and own eraser shields, but they don't work very well with erasers that have lost their edges. When I do use them, it's with my kneaded erasers and not my polymer erasers. In that case, they work very well as stencils for the point you knead.

As for the points, you need to roll them thick and shallow instead of thin and steep, in order to have enough strength in the tip to hold up. I generally just make a ball, pinch part, and make a cone out of it.

Unless you want to erase very finely, such as adding highlights to hair. In that case, you can leave the point long and thin, and it will gently lift up fine lines of pencil.

Once you start using kneaded erasers, you'll find that they're really an entirely new implement, quite unlike regular erasers. Since you can adjust the amount you erase by changing pressure and eraser shape and even the way you apply pressure (standard erasing motion, patting, rolling, stippling!), you can get very fine control over what you're doing.

And you don't have to worry about erasing holes in your paper!

Now, to be fair, kneaded erasers have downsides. The harder your lead (4H and up), the less effective I find these. Likewise, the harder you press with your pencil, the less effective they are, because they can't pick up the graphite dust.

If the kneaded eraser won't do it, use a polymer eraser (I throw out rubber erasers). You can always use a craft knife to "sharpen" them into a point or chisel. Sharpening polymer erasers makes them work much better with eraser shields, too!

  • 1
    This is what I was going to answer with if no one chimed in after a couple of days
    – Matt
    May 14, 2016 at 14:01
  • 1
    I find kneaded erasers are good for softer drawing mediums and papers where shields are better for technical work or finer detailing on smoother bond like papers. Shields also protect the paper from wrinkling when erasing. I use a kneaded eraser when sketching or doing figurative work but would use a shield for line work or design.
    – rebusB
    Sep 25, 2018 at 17:52

Other options:

Eraser pencils:

Imagine a pencil that is filled with eraser instead of graphite - that's an eraser pencil. Some models have a small brush on the back end for getting rid of eraser dust.

Sanford Magic Rub Peel-Off Eraser Pencil:

Basically the eraser equivalent of a peel-off grease pencil. The eraser core is wrapped in paper, and as you wear down the tip, you peel off more paper to expose more eraser. The eraser can be cut with an exacto knife to make a fine tip.

enter image description here
enter image description here
Sanford Magic Rub Peel-Off Eraser Pencil

Faber-Castell Perfection Eraser Pencils:

You sharpen it in a pencil sharpener, just like a normal pencil.

enter image description here
Faber-Castell Perfection Eraser Pencil, plain

enter image description here
Faber-Castell Perfection Eraser Pencil, brush tip

Mechanical erasers:

They work the same way as mechanical pencils, but instead of graphite, you have a fine point eraser.

Tombow MONO Zero Eraser:

Fine point, pen-style housing, refillable.

enter image description here
Tombow MONO Zero Eraser, Round 2.3 mm
enter image description here
Tombow MONO Zero Eraser, Rectangle 2.5 mm

Sanford Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick:

Larger point, pen-style housing, refillable (like the Tombow), but the eraser stick is much firmer than the Tombow is, so you can cut the tip into any shape you need with a razor blade or exacto knife.

enter image description here
Sanford Paper Mate Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick

Electrical erasers:

The eraser tip spins, allowing you to sharpen it to a tiny point by holding it on a piece of sandpaper at an angle.

Sakura Cordless Eraser:

enter image description here
Sakura SE2000 Electric Eraser Kit

  • I've heard that electrical erasers must be used with care, or you might end up with a hole in your paper.
    – Ji Ugug
    Feb 11, 2017 at 20:41
  • I second the Tombow Erasers, I got a one 2.3mm round in a scrawlerbox recently and I've fallen in love. It's great for tidying up edges and small areas. However I use a mechanical pencil most of the time. This wouldn't be great for super soft pencils. Feb 27, 2017 at 15:57

If you want to erase a smaller area without buying additional stuff, it's easy!

Use a blade or scissors (I prefer blades) and cut out a pointed shape to erase with. If you are scared of wasting erasers, you can just trim the corners or cut it in half or just use the leftovers from the cut.

If you have new erasers or you didn't use the bottom corners, use them!


Use the erasers from mechanical pencils or from pencils.

  • 1
    Shaping your tool to fit your needs is certainly a good idea! And with most hand erasers, you could cut them in such a way to be left with 2 or more large, usable pieces.
    – user24
    Jul 9, 2017 at 2:54

Don't erase. One of the biggest challenges for a beginning artist to overcome is this idea of a "mistake."

If you get a stray mark during the execution of your work, leave it. These imperfections not only add character to your work, but they also establish the work's authenticity.

As you continue to develop as an artist, your execution will improve and these stray marks will decrease. You will develop great skill at executing without "mistakes." But the best part, is that you will have generated a large body of works which have remained unedited. This will provide you with a resource to look back over the years and see just where your skills have improved and how fast.

By the way, scientists do not erase their mistakes, they carefully document them.

  • 3
    While good general advice, this is not an answer to the question posed.
    – Joachim
    Sep 13, 2021 at 5:54

I use many erasers for drawing. I actually draw with erasers by taking off areas and texturing. So there are many uses for erasers in drawing. If you draw with only a pencil and include mistakes then that is your version or style of drawing but it is not the true and only way you should draw. The pen eraser is valuable to me because I can cut a clean edge on the tip and erase fine lines to create textures such as weave in cloth. It just depends on your style of drawing. There is no right way or wrong way.

  • 1
    Welcome, Brian! This is a beautiful piece of work but I'm not really sure how it relates to your answer. We're not a site for advertising - you're more than welcome to put a link to your site in your user profile but if it doesn't answer the question, there's no reason to include it here. Could you please make your answer address the question more directly? Right now it seems that you're recommending a pen eraser? I'm also not sure about your anecdote. I apologize for the commentary but we require our answers to be more direct. :)
    – Catija
    Mar 15, 2017 at 20:29

I agonized over this decision myself! I've tried a lot of different options for tiny areas and fine detail and finally settled on the Tombow Mono erasers. They last a while too, not like some erasers where you scrub them down to nothing after a couple uses. Good for when you need to erase very thin lines in tight spaces.

If you're working with paper that is fragile or liable to scrub away with too much erasing, use a standard kneaded eraser. No eraser "crumbs" to clean up, and you can break off a small chunk and twiddle it to a very fine point. Rather than scrubbing back and forth with this type of eraser, you would kind of dab it on the paper repeatedly. It sticks to the graphite particles and pulls them up, and then somehow doesn't transfer back onto the paper.

For drawing, I would advise staying away from the "eraser pencil" options. They're horrendous and either smudge/smear your work, or leave weird un-erasable grease marks.

  • 1
    Pretty much everything in this answer is already covered in one or more of the other answers. (Except maybe the warning about eraser pencils and their use may vary with the paper and medium used.)
    – Willeke
    Feb 9, 2017 at 21:07

Use a kneaded eraser.

These types of erasers are really cheap and you can mold them into any shape you like. Besides that, it also does this:

It functions by adsorbing and "picking up" graphite and charcoal particles, in addition to carbon and pastel marks. It does not wear away and leave behind eraser residue, thus it lasts much longer than other erasers.

Negative side of these erasers is:

Although kneaded erasers do not wear away like other erasers, they can become saturated and unable to absorb any more graphite or charcoal. In that case a kneaded eraser will actually leave marks on the paper instead of erasing them.

However, that is to be expected. It can not last forever. Since they are not expensive, buying another one will not be much of a problem. Where I live they cost around 1 - 1.5 euros each.

You can read more about them on the wiki page I shared.


You can keep a knife erasure handy along with a putty erasure. Should be sufficient for most needs.

My bad folks, my suggestion was not really descriptive. To be honest, knife eraser is my term. What I meant by knife eraser is a flat retractable erasure encased in a holder, much like the retractable pencil sharpening knife. This has a sharp edge which helps to precisely erase and the retractable casing ensures that the edge remains sharp for long. I could not find any pictures for the same, will add one soon.

  • 1
    What is a knife eraser?
    – user24
    Sep 20, 2018 at 13:12
  • 2
    Adding a picture or a link so we know what you mean by "knife eraser" would be good. Internationally, some terms are different, and it might be known by a different name somewhere else; like "flashlight" vs. "torch". You can always edit your answers on stackexchange.
    – inkista
    Sep 21, 2018 at 20:35

You can use an electric eraser. The shape and size of the eraser allow me to target small details that I want to erase. The button is very touchy so you can just tap it quick to get a small erase, or hold it down for longer erases.

  • 1
    Hi Molly, I removed the link in your answer because neither the reason for including it or your affiliation are clear. You can edit your answer if you want to clarify it. Welcome to Arts & Crafts!
    – Joachim
    Sep 30, 2021 at 17:45
  • 4
    Welcome to Arts & Crafts. This is a good suggestion, but I suspect the reason your answer was downvoted is because it was already suggested 5 years ago by Wad Cheber. An objective of the site is for every answer post to contribute something new. If an existing answer is useful, the way to show that is to upvote it, which you'll be able to do when you accumulate a minimal amount of reputation points. To get the most from the site, take the quick site tour for an overview of how it works.
    – fixer1234
    Sep 30, 2021 at 17:51

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