Making good art takes a lot of practice. You will surely make a lot of mistakes, no matter what tools you are using – watercolor, oil painting, or colored pencils. But in the case of colored pencils, can you reverse the mistakes? Can you erase colored pencils?
In this post, we will examine how colored pencils work. Then we will see how pencil erasers work. Lastly, I will give you my tips on how best to erase colored pencils.
Why Can’t I Erase Colored Pencils?
The reason why you can’t erase colored pencils with a regular rubber eraser is because of how it is made. The core of a colored pencil is primarily made of two things, the pigment, and the binder. It is the binder that prevents you from erasing colored pencils using a rubber eraser.
Colored Pencil Binders Make Erasing Colored Pencils Near-Impossible
But either way, wax or oil-based binders also contribute to why it is hard to erase colored pencils. Unlike the regular graphite pencil, the wax or oil smudges the color when you use your standard eraser on it. The pigment of the pencils buries themselves in the fine fibers of paper while the wax or oil forms a covering above them.
The wax or oil only smears the pigment around the paper when you try to rub it off using a rubber eraser.
Are Colored Pencils Erasable?
Fortunately, yes, colored pencils are erasable. Even though the wax or oil binder of a colored pencil makes erasing it near impossible, you can do it with the right tools. However, it will take more finesse and effort to erase colored pencils.
How Can You Erase Colored Pencils?
There are many methods you can use to erase colored pencil marks. There are methods that require tapes, or vinyl erasers but my two favorite methods are using colored pencil erasers and kneaded erasers.
Colored Pencil Erasers
It should not be surprising that there are colored pencil erasers, considering how troublesome it is to erase colored pencil marks with regular erasers. Colored pencil artists designed the colored pencil eraser to be more effective in getting pigment off the paper.
Although colored pencil erasers do not fully erase colored pencil marks on paper, they can erase enough so you can cover your mistake. Remember, colored pencils have very high blend-ability; you can easily cover the wrong colors if they are light enough.
Using colored pencil erasers is exactly the same as using regular erasers. But in terms of physical properties, colored pencil erasers are firmer. If you rub it too hard against your paper, you might tear the paper. So, be very careful when using colored pencil erasers.
Kneaded erasers are a wonder, in my opinion. These erasers can’t fully erase colored pencil marks nor can they erase the marks at the same efficacy as colored pencil erasers can. But they can erase enough for you to cover the mistakes.
Kneaded erasers work by picking up the colored pencil pigments off the paper. But because some pigments get so deep into the paper, it can’t pick them all. But that is not what I like about kneaded erasers.
Kneaded erasers are malleable – you can shape them into pretty much anything. So I make a very small mistake within an artwork, I can shape the eraser into a point. This way, I can erase just the small mistake and not the area around it.
One very practical application of kneaded erasers is when you oversaturate an area with too much color. You don’t want to cover that mistake with more color, do you? What you want is to pick up enough pigments off it so you can cover up the mistake.
Aside from colored pencil erasers and kneaded erasers, there are other options. I find that the harder an eraser is, the more effective it is at erasing colored pencils enough so you can cover the mistake.
My suggested hard eraser is a vinyl eraser. Vinyl erasers are more abrasive, though. This is why they are powerful against colored pencils because they abrade the wax binder off and pick up the pigment. However, their abrasiveness also damages the paper if you are not careful.
There are other types of erasers that are hard, such as plastic erasers. But for me, vinyl is the best.
When using colored pencils, I always make very light strokes first. This way, I can cover up the mistakes I make with other colored pencil marks. But if things really get out of hand, there are other methods, thankfully.
Can you erase colored pencils? Not really, based on what we know about how colored pencils work and how pencil erasers work. But you can remove enough color from colored pencil marks that you can cover the mistake. I strongly suggest using either a colored pencil eraser or a kneaded eraser.