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How to Make a Kneaded Eraser | EASY

How to Make a Kneaded Eraser

This is my favorite type of eraser. It can be molded into any shape to erase even the tiniest detail in a drawing – you just need to dab and lift. No rubbing required.

Kneaded erasers are quite affordable, but since we’re all in Covid-19 lockdown right now, you may not even be able to buy one. So here’s how you can make it yourself, out of tools that you can probably find around your house.

How to Make a DIY Kneaded Eraser Putty At HomeYou can make a kneaded eraser out of pretty much any solid eraser that you have, even the one on the end of a pencil, just by rubbing it on a piece of paper to create crumbs and then kneading the crumbs together into a putty.

Make sure you knead the putty very well until it becomes one single piece that can be molded into different shapes.

But the results will be varied because some erasers just crumble instead of stick together no matter how hard you work it. But don’t worry, I will show you how to fix that!

 

I tested a total of 10 different erasers and they can all be turned into putty/kneaded erasers, some work better than others, though.

This white Paper Mate eraser (pictured below) was immediately usable after just a few seconds of kneading. It became a perfect eraser putty that held its shape well no matter how I molded it. If you also experience that with your eraser, you’re good to go! You can skip straight to the section titled “Extra Tips for Making a Kneaded Eraser”. If that’s not your experience, please continue reading…

How to Make a DIY Kneaded Eraser Putty At Home

 

How to Make Eraser Putty from a Super Crumbly Eraser

If your eraser is super crumbly no matter how much you knead the crumbs together, we can still make it work. We just need to add a few more steps to the process.

How to fix a crumbly eraser All you have to do is add something sticky to make the crumbs stay together. The best way to do this is to rub your eraser along the sticky side of masking tape, painter’s tape, or the sticky part of a sticky note.

Just rub your eraser along the sticky side until the sticky stuff or adhesive comes off and is incorporated into the eraser crumbs. This works well with tape that isn’t too sticky. Masking tape works perfectly. I wouldn’t use duct tape for this.

If the consistency is way too sticky for your liking, you can always add some dry eraser crumbs until the consistency is just right for you. A test that I like to do, is to see if I can easily roll the putty to a point and also flatten it down without it changing shape or crumbling.

Incorporating dry eraser crumbs into a sticky piece of putty

If you don’t have any tape, just go around the house looking for stickers that are easy to peel off like barcodes or labels that you don’t need. Some water bottles will have adhesive under the label!

I would not recommend using liquid school glue because once the glue dries, the eraser becomes totally solid and unusable. Glue sticks on the other hand will work okay, but it’s not as sticky as I’d like it to be.

 

If your crumbs DO stick together when you work them between your fingers, but the putty isn’t quite soft enough for your preference or it’s a little crumbly, you can either…

Method #1:

Use tape adhesive to make it softer.

Just rub your eraser along the adhesive a few times and then gather the softer putty and mix it with the hard or crumbly one.

Keep doing this until it’s soft enough for you. Here’s a comparison between a piece of putty before and after adding the adhesive. As you can see, it fixed our crumbly issue and it’s more pliable and more putty-like now.

 

Method #2:

The other solution is to try erasing a bunch of pencil scribble marks and then kneading your eraser to incorporate that graphite into it.

After a while, this will help the putty become softer, more pliable, and more effective at erasing.

It’s normal for the putty to become grey, as it takes on the color of the graphite particles. This is also how you can break in a brand new store-bought kneaded eraser.

 

Now, every eraser and adhesive will give you different results, so experiment with your own recipe to come up with something that works for you. Keep in mind that the more you erase with your newly made putty, the more effective and pliable it will become.

 

I prefer a fairly sticky eraser because it can easily pick up graphite with just the slightest touch, so I can work on very detailed areas of a drawing. Keep tweaking your eraser recipe and testing how well it can erase until you’re satisfied. Do keep in mind that some erasers work a lot better than others at picking up graphite. So I’d recommend trying this with a few different types of erasers.

 

What type of Solid Eraser Works Best?

I was able to convert ALL the erasers that I tested into actual working kneadable erasers.

Some worked perfectly right after I kneaded them, others required different amounts of adhesive added to them because they were either not soft enough, not sticky enough, or they were too crumbly to begin with.

Even extremely crumbly erasers like the Pink Pearl can be converted into a kneadable eraser.

The ones that I found worked best were these:

In putty form, they’re able to hold their shape when molded and pick up graphite easily using the dabbing technique.

 

Here are my RESULTS with each eraser that I tested:

Notes: I judge how good each eraser is by how well it erases (how many dabs it takes to erase something), how well it holds its shape when I mold it/when I use it to erase something. Erasers ranked as mediocre are still viable, they’re just less effective to work with (eg: it may require more effort to erase with)

1. Sakura Latex-Free, Non-PVC Eraser
Quick to knead. Doesn’t require adhesive. Makes a great kneaded eraser.

2. PaperMate PVC-Free Eraser
Quick to knead. Doesn’t need any adhesive. Makes a great kneaded eraser.

3. Tombow Mono Plastic Eraser
Quick to knead. Somewhat crumbly. Needs some adhesive or graphite to soften it up. Makes a great kneaded eraser. Will become stiff when it cools back down from the warmth of your fingers, so it requires kneading before use. You can use this to your advantage, though – using it as both a solid eraser and putty eraser. It can hold its shape extremely well for erasing the tiniest areas.

4. Pentel Hi-Polymer Eraser
Quick to knead. Somewhat crumbly putty. Needs some adhesive to fix crumbliness. Makes a good kneaded eraser.

5. Dixon HB Pencil from dollarstore, latex-free
Takes some effort to knead. Not crumbly, but feels drier than all the solid erasers listed above. Works better without adhesive, but it is quite stiff. Makes a good kneaded eraser after you mix it with some graphite.

6. Random white eraser from an old pencil case.
I probably haven’t used it in like 12 years (It was so stiff that it didn’t even feel like rubber. It still worked anyway. I was able to quickly form it into a putty without any adhesive. Makes a good kneaded eraser.

7 & 8. Paw Patrol Erasers from dollarstore
Quick to knead. Crumbly putty. Needs some adhesive. Makes a good kneaded eraser.

9. PaperMate Pink Pearl Latex/PVC-Free Eraser
Extremely crumbly. Needs a lot of adhesive to become putty. Makes a mediocre kneaded eraser because I need to dab many times to erase.

10. Studio HB Pencil from the dollar store
Extremely crumbly. Needs a lot of adhesive to become putty. Makes a mediocre kneaded eraser because it requires so much adhesive, that it becomes difficult to mold into certain shapes without sticking to my fingers. If you don’t need it to erase hairline marks, it will do a good job.

 

Extra Tips for Making a Kneaded Eraser

Tip #1:

As you erase more and more (incorporate more graphite into your putty), it will become softer and more effective at erasing. That’s a good way to soften a stiff piece of putty without having to add any adhesive. It’s also a good way to break in a brand new store-bought kneaded eraser. It’s normal for the putty to turn grey, as it takes on the color of the graphite particles.

 

Tip #2:

The more eraser crumbs you make, the bigger your eraser will be, of course, but it’ll take hours and a lot of hard work to turn a large eraser like this into a big pile of crumbs. A safe way you can speed up the process is by using a more textured surface to rub your eraser on. Here, I’m using the side of my textured mechanical pencil:

I’ve been asked many times if a cheese grater can be used. While you can use one, it can be very dangerous, so I don’t recommend that.

And that’s how you can make a kneaded eraser at home! Which by the way is my favorite type of eraser. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If ya did, please share it with your friends and leave a comment down below to let me know your results!

 

Beginner’s guide to graphite drawing pencils

beginners guide to graphite drawing pencilsIf you’re new to drawing with graphite and wondering what are the¬†best drawing pencils¬†you should be using, this guide is for you!

In this guide, you will learn:

  • What the numbers and letters on a pencil mean
  • Which pencils you should use
  • Which pencils are best for drawing portraits and pencils for sketching
  • The reason why there are so many pencil grades
  • How the quality of a pencil can affect your artwork

 

Pencil Grades

pencil graphite value scale H to 9B RFA 4

The letters on a pencil will tell you its level of hardness or softness. For example:

H: Hard
F: Fine Point
HB: Hard Black
B: Black

Hard pencils produce light lines while soft pencils produce dark lines. Why? Because soft pencils deposit more graphite onto your drawing surface. The softer the pencil, the smoother the graphite.

The number beside each letter represents the level of hardness or softness. So a 9B pencil is softer/darker than a 2B, while an 8H will be harder/lighter than a 3H.

Here’s a list of pencil grades in order from lightest to darkest or hardest to softest.

9H, 8H, 7H, 6H, 5H, 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B

Value Range

Each pencil is capable of covering a wide range of values. If you look at the first image, there are some gradients under each square. This shows you how flexible each grade of pencil is. Even though 9B is the softest pencil, you can still use it to draw an entire portrait with values ranging from medium grey to black. Although, it would be a big challenge since it would require a lot of effort to keep from shading your drawing too dark.

 

The Best Pencils For Drawing

Don’t be intimidated by the number of pencils I listed up there! Most likely, you’ll only need to use 3-5 of them. The pencils you¬†need will depend on the type of drawings you do.

Architectural / Product Sketches / Technical Sketches

If you’re into drawing buildings, cars or technical¬†sketches, a set of hard pencils will suit you well. Hard pencils don’t smudge easily, so your drawings will always be sharp and clean. You won’t need to sharpen your pencils too often because the graphite is hard enough to hold a sharp tip longer than any B graded pencil.

If you want to add dark shading to your drawing, pick up a few soft pencils so you can make your drawings pop out of the page.

 

Portraiture /  Animals / Realism

guide to graphite pencilsIn order to achieve realistic textures such as fur, skin or fabrics, you’ll need pencils that blend well and¬†are flexible enough to reach the darkest of tones in order to convey a realistic sense of depth. A set of soft pencils¬†will fit the job perfectly. If you don’t want to buy a full set, you can get a few individual pencils. When it comes to portraiture, my most frequently used pencils are HB, 4B, 6B and 8B.

 

Why You Should Use More Than 1 Pencil

Each pencil has its benefits and can help you get the job done faster! I could use a monkey wrench to¬†drive 1000 nails into¬†my patio deck, but it wasn’t designed for that job. A hammer is so much more efficient!

Here’s how each pencil below helps me get the job done faster and more efficiently:

HB: This pencil helps me shade the lightest areas of my portrait such as eyeballs and highlights without having to spend too much time focusing on the amount of pressure I’m putting on the paper and worrying if I’m shading to dark.

6B: Without any effort at all, I can easily shade large areas of a portrait or background with a smooth dark layer of graphite.

If you feel really strained after you finish a drawing, you might need to add a few more pencil grades to your toolbox, or learn how to use them more efficiently.

 

Graphite Quality

Graphite pencils are typically mixed with varying amounts of clay. Which means that a low quality pencil could contain many sand-like bits that feel scratchy and can damage your artwork.

If you can’t test a pencil before buying it and you want to¬†be sure it won’t be scratchy, check to see¬†that the packaging says it’s mixed with high quality, pure or smooth clay. Keep in mind that no matter how high the quality, you’re not going to get a 100% pure pencil.

Pencils that I’ve used and recommend are Derwent Graphic and Daler Rowney Graphic (not sketch).
beginners-guide-to-graphite-drawing-pencils

Have a question? Leave it in the comments!

If you enjoyed this guide and know someone that would benefit from it, use the social sharing buttons below to share it with them :)

 

What is a kneaded eraser – How do you use one?

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 rubber eraser

How to use a Kneaded Eraser

Details Details…

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!

 

rubber eraser

Highlighting
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!
how to use a kneaded eraser highlighting

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 use a kneaded eraser on hair

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.

 

Detailed guide: How to use a blending stump

A blending stump or paper stump is a stick of tightly rolled up soft paper with 2 pointed ends. They are used to blend, smear or smudge graphite, charcoal or similar mediums. They work really well for blending large areas (using the side) and even small areas (when using the tip) which require detail and allow you to have more control than other blending tools like q-tips. A lot of people confuse blending stumps with tortillons.
how to use blending stumps Arya Stark GOT

What is a tortillon? They’re also made of rolled paper, however, due to the pointier tip, they are able to blend even tighter spaces where a high level of precision is required.

The tip can collapse when too much pressure is used. A toothpick or paperclip can be used to push the tip back out.

The side of a tortillon will not blend very smoothly, but it does create very interesting textures that resemble grass and brushed metal for example.

how to use a blending stump

I personally love using blending stumps with charcoal because it spreads the medium so beautifully. For graphite drawings, I mainly use it for dark areas of the drawing. It saves a lot of time when blending and shading clothing and backgrounds.

Different Methods for How to Use a Blending Stump

Smudging:

Drag the stub to smudge different elements of your drawing. You can use small circular motions to create interesting patterns on things like shrubs and trees.

Shading:
Draw some tight scribbles in a small corner of a scrap piece of paper and work the graphite onto the paper stump. If needed, remove excess graphite by rubbing it in a clean area of the paper before using it on your drawing. Use light strokes to layer the graphite onto your portrait. Keep the direction consistent with your overall drawing.

how to shade with a blending stump
Blending:
Use a clean blending stump to push the graphite on your drawing back and forth lightly until the tones blend together. If you are scared to do this, use very little pressure (it will take longer to blend though).

Light Values: Always use a clean blending stump when blending light values. You may need to sand it a few times throughout the blending process to keep it clean. I generally use tissue paper for the lightest areas of a portrait.

Dark Values: If you’re trying to achieve a really dark value, a blending stump will do the trick. You will notice that when shading, there are tiny little white dots between the graphite. These little grooves in the paper are really noticeable when adding¬†dark values. Using a blending stump will spread the graphite and fill the grooves to give your drawing a smooth finish.

If you notice many black dots on your drawing before and/or after using a blending stump, use a kneaded eraser to remove them one by one. Click here to learn how to use a kneaded eraser.

how to blend with a blending stump

How to clean a Blending Stump

When the tip of your blending stump becomes too dull or dirty, you can sharpen it using a sand paper sharpener, which usually comes with the stump if you buy it in a pack. After sharpening the paper stump, you will notice that it becomes a little fuzzy. I personally like this, and will use it to blend lighter areas of my portrait using very little pressure. You can also use a nail filer or box cutting knife. But be careful!
I recommend having dedicated stumps for dark, medium and light shades to avoid cleaning your stump multiple times for one portrait.

How to Make a Blending Tool

The benefit of making your own blending tool is that you can customize the type of paper and level of softness.

how to make a blending stump tortillion

Alternatives to Stumps and Tortillions

Tissue: Tissues work great for light or mid-tones.¬†But they don’t work as well¬†for darks because much of your¬†graphite will transfer¬†to the tissue, making those darker values almost impossible to achieve. Here are a few ways you can use tissue paper to blend:

  • Fold the tissue in half and then in half again. Fold it into a¬†triangle one or two times until you can get a pointy corner that’s relatively stiff. Great for tight spaces!
  • Wrap a tissue around your finger making sure to bunch the tissue at the top so you don’t accidentally smudge other parts of your drawing.
  • Make a tissue ball and wrap it inside another tissue. This is similar to the one above except you can blend a larger area.

Makeup or Paint Brush: Good for blending light areas. My favorite brush is the S60 Flat Shader by Robert Simmons. The bristles are stiff enough that the brush doesn’t flare out too much when pressure is applied, it’s super soft and the brush’s corners are perfect for getting into tight spaces.

Q-Tip:¬†OK for large areas, but not so great for tight spaces unless you roll the cotton to a fine tip. You might find it hard to erase areas where you’ve used the q-tip. Especially if the q-tip is hard. Can’t find soft q-tips? Use your clean hands/nails to fluff the cotton by pulling on it in different directions.

Chamois:¬†Chamois¬†are made of soft leather and are most ideal for blending charcoal and pastel. Not for detailing work. I haven’t tried one, but have heard amazing things about them.

Finger: Using your finger to blend a portrait is a big no no because the natural oils from your skin can cling onto the graphite, making the area impossible to erase. If you absolutely need to use your finger to blend, make sure to clean it very well using an oil/grease absorbing cloth/tissue.

I hope you enjoyed this guide! Click here if you want to learn how to use a kneaded eraser!

 

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