So, what is a kneaded eraser? Unlike the common vinyl or rubber pink erasers, kneaded rubber erasers are more pliable and can be stretched, molded and compressed.
These super fun erasers can be used for removing and highlighting mediums like graphite, charcoal, pastel and chalk.
They can even be used for entertainment purposes such as making sculptures and bouncy balls. Although a couple of bounces on the floor can pick up more than enough dirt to make you cringe!
How to use a Kneaded Eraser
One of the most amazing things about kneaded erasers is that you can mold them into any shape which is great for detailing work. I remember the days of using a solid eraser and having to erase a large area of my portrait in order to fix a tiny flaw and boy was that fun!
Kneaded erasers do not leave residue. Look at how it eats the graphite up without leaving a single trace
behind. I didn’t even rub the paper! Just press and lift. Do this a couple times and the graphite is gone. However, this might not work if the pencil marks are too dark. In the image below, I gave it only ONE light press!
I mostly use the ‘press and lift’ method, but when it comes to things like highlighting hair, I’ll pinch the eraser and use it to swipe the graphite using light strokes. Avoid putting too much pressure on your drawing or you will bend the eraser. If it starts to change shape or becomes too dirty, fold the eraser into itself, pinch it to a fine tip and continue!
How to Clean a Kneaded Eraser
Because kneaded erasers absorb graphite, they will become dirtier with use. To clean a kneaded eraser, you can stretch and knead it until the color turns light grey. Eventually they will become too dirty to use as graphite, charcoal, dust or other particles accumulate in the eraser. I’ve only thrown away 1 so far because of the excessive accumulation of dust and dirt from the eraser continuously falling behind my desk. That’s not a big problem because they are generally very cheap and can be found in most art supply stores.
When you get your first kneaded eraser, you will need to break it in. Prismacolor kneaded erasers are the perfect texture for me. If you got a different brand and find that it’s too hard to manipulate, cut it in half or use only one quarter to start. The eraser should become softer as it picks up more graphite. You can increase the softness immediately by creating graphite shavings with a sandpaper pencil sharpener and folding the graphite into the eraser and then pulling and stretching it until it becomes a darker grey. I’ve tested a few different brands and so far my favorite is PrismaColor for it’s softness and ability to pickup graphite with just the slightest touch right out of the packaging. Other brands I tried were either too hard, difficult to mold and keep the shape I needed, or required a lot of friction to erase.
Darlene created RFA In 2013 with the goal of sharing simple yet detailed drawing tutorials with other artists on the world wide web. She is a self taught pencil portrait artist and Youtuber.