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How to Use a Kneaded Eraser: A Detailed Guide

How to Use a Kneaded Eraser
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A kneaded eraser is basically a staple of any toolbox of an artist. They are used in order to remove a number of drawing materials such as graphite, charcoal, chalk, and even pastels. From the name itself, you can figure that this is not the regular pink eraser you used in elementary school.

So, how to use a kneaded eraser? Is there a trick behind it?

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It goes without saying that a kneaded eraser has to be molded and stretched out into different shapes which depends entirely on the area that you are working on. We can understand how this can be a tad bit confusing at first but don’t worry, using a kneaded eraser is extremely easy.

What Is a Kneaded Eraser?

Kneaded erasers are unlike your common vinyl erasers. These are far more pliable and can be molded, stretched, and even compressed. While these are extremely fun erasers that you can use to remove mediums such as pastel, chalk, charcoal, and graphite, you can also use them for entertainment purposes such as making bouncy balls and sculptures.

How to Use a Kneaded Eraser

Now that you have an understanding of a kneaded eraser, it is time we move on to talk about how you can use it properly. We will divide this section into multiple parts to help you understand it better.

  • Breaking in the Eraser

Once you have your new kneaded eraser, it is time you unwrap it on a clean surface, or else, it will pick up all the dirt, hair, or anything else that will come in contact with it. After that, start stretching it out with your hands. You can do this by grabbing both the end of the eraser then pulling it apart until it completely breaks.

Squish back the pieces of the broken eraser together. Continuously repeat this process multiple times until it has been kneaded fully together in a malleable and soft ball.

In case you find the eraser too hard at first, you can cut it in half or quarters with a knife. This whole process is quite similar to playing with putty.

Now you need to fold in graphite shaving into the eraser right away. The kneaded eraser will pick up the graphite naturally.

In order to make the process quicker, you can use a sandpaper pencil sharpener to help create the graphite shavings. Then just work it all into the eraser by the pull and stretch method. Once the graphite has been worked in, the eraser will turn into a darker shade of grey.

  • Different Techniques to Use the Eraser

You would think that the only function of an eraser is to erase any pencil markings. While a part of it still applies to kneaded erasers, it is not entirely the case. Kneaded erasers can be molded in a way that can help with detailing or highlighting work.

In order to do some highlighting in your artwork, all you need to do is press and lift the eraser; that’s about it. The great thing about kneaded erasers is that they do not leave behind any residue. The “press and lift” method is particularly great when you need to do artwork such as highlighting hair.

Once you are done with your artwork, you can use the kneaded eraser to clean your hands too.

It is very common for some of the graphite, charcoal, or any other drawing material to get transferred on to the side of your hands while you draw. Having a kneaded eraser in such cases is very helpful. With just one swipe across your skin, it will successfully remove the smudges.

That is great to save time while drawing too as you will not have to constantly get up to wash your hands.

  • Cleaning the Eraser

Since these erasers are kneadable, it can go on a long time before you have to fully clean it. Often while you use the eraser, you will find several sections around or within it that are completely clean. All you need to do is fold the eraser so that you end up revealing an area in it which is not covered in charcoal or any other type of drawing material.

This is a very quick method that is best used when you have dirtied only a small section of the eraser. This will allow you to keep working with it without any long interruption.

For a deeper clean, though, you will need to stretch apart the eraser several times. This method is relevant when you have used a majority of the eraser for your drawing and need it to be thoroughly cleaned.

All you need to do is stretch it out until the eraser is extremely close to breaking and then simply squish it back together until the pieces are joined again.

You will need to repeat this process quite a few times until the surface is rubbery and not smooth anymore. Remember, the more you use and knead the eraser, it will get darker as it is absorbing more and more of the graphite, charcoal, or other materials.

  • Maintaining Its Quality

In order to maintain your kneaded eraser, it is advisable that you store it in a small box or a plastic bag which will keep the dirt and dust away. As mentioned earlier, these erasers can pick up the dirt quite easily from the environment. Storing it properly ensures it is well protected and this will make it last longer.

That said, there will come a point where the eraser will stop self-cleaning. Once it reaches this stage, it is time you buy a new eraser. You will realize this when the eraser is incapable of doing a good job on the paper and when it has turned almost dark gray to black in color.


We are certain that now you know how to use a kneaded eraser. These erasers are a must-have for every artist. When used and stored properly, it will not just last for a long time but also help you create some amazing masterpieces.

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