The 5 Types of Erasers Every Artist Should Know

Everyone makes mistakes now and again. That’s true in all parts of life, but particularly when you start drawing. Thank goodness for erasers! This guide to the different types of erasers used in drawing will help you choose the best one to fix your drawing mistakes.

Types of Erasers

Illustration by Paul Heaston

Pencil lines go askew, marks go where you don’t want them, composition ideas change.

Here’s a guide to which types of erasers are the best fit for the job!

Gum eraser

1. Gum eraser

Also referred to as “art gum” erasers, a gum eraser has a soft, somewhat gummy texture and can have a slightly translucent-looking appearance. They absorb graphite and crumble as they erase. While they will leave a sea of “crumbs” on your page, the eraser itself is a little bit softer than a typical rubber eraser, so it is better suited to use on a variety of different paper types. It is not the most precise mode of erasing, though, so for finer lines or details, consider using a kneaded eraser.

Pink pearl erasers

2. Rubber eraser

This is one of the most classic types of erasers — it’s the pink cylinder on the top of your pencil, for starters. These sturdy, all-purpose erasers often come in pink, but are available in a number of colors. They are firmer than a gum eraser, and they’re effective at removing pencil marks from paper. A rubber eraser works similarly to a gum eraser but with a little more precision. It pulls graphite from the paper while shedding itself, so it will leave little “crumbs” on the paper. While overzealous use can damage paper, rubber erasers, like gum erasers, are less abrasive on paper than vinyl erasers.

Kneaded eraser

3. Kneaded eraser

Also referred to as “kneaded rubber,” this type of eraser is pliable and can be molded sort of like a stiff clay. It works by picking up pigment off of the paper, and doesn’t leave “crumbs” like a gum or rubber eraser. It can be re-kneaded to absorb graphite.

Since kneaded erasers can be shaped into a point, they can be used to erase areas of very fine detail. However, because the rubber can become sticky when handled for long periods of time, kneaded rubber is not the best choice for erasing large areas.

According to Patrick Connors, the key to success with a kneaded eraser is all about technique: “The ideal way to use it is not to rub, but to press, rotate and pull the eraser away from the paper. With these erasers, you also need to periodically pull and fold the eraser, kneading it.”

4. Pencil eraser

Nope, we don’t mean the pink cylinder on the top of your #2 pencil — that’s covered in rubber erasers section, above. Also referred to as an “erasil” or “eraser-tip pencil,” a pencil eraser looks like a pencil, but instead of graphite, it has a vinyl eraser tip. It can be used to erase very specific areas, and can even be sharpened to a point, like a regular pencil. However, the firm tip and point can make it harsh on paper, so this should only be used on small details.

Plastic eraser

5. Vinyl eraser

Also referred to as “plastic erasers” or “drafting erasers”, these erasers are hard — literally. They have a rigid texture and are capable of doing some heavy-duty erasing, with the ability to lift even ink from a page. Their clean and complete erasing capabilities make them the favored type for drafters. Because of the very rigid texture of a vinyl eraser, there is a possibility of damaging the paper, so work gently when erasing, and don’t use on delicate types of paper.

Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

Make a comment:
characters remaining

8 Responses to “The 5 Types of Erasers Every Artist Should Know”

  1. mridani

    Hey, I wanted to ask, what is a "Midie Eraser used for?"

  2. Lori Ann Sierra

    What kind of eraser could I use if I do not have a clay eraser on a canvas?

  3. Dr Rabinarayan Moharana

    Very good information. But you have to give some examples. I am saying as for example 621 PLASTO ERASER of Natraj company. Please tell me which type of eraser is this ? Like wise DUST FREE ERASER of Doms company. Please tell which type of eraser is this ? My question is really how I will recognise which eraser is belongs to which types. Please Answer.

  4. Dale

    I'm learning. We're can I buy those eraser

  5. Diya

    Nice information about eraser..

  6. Francoise Stauber

    I would like to make a signature stamp. I was told I had to use nitrile rubber. Do you know if a vinyl eraser is made of nitrile rubber? Or maybe the gum eraser? How do I find out? Thank you.

  7. Vivi

    What about soap erasers???

  8. frankllin anungo

    i would like to join you