Highlights, Not Mistakes

Soft core colored pencil is a medium that doesn’t require many additional materials, but one essential tool is the battery operated eraser. These pencils are highly pigmented and waxy, so when you build up multiple layers, your drawing will take on a lustrous, painting-like quality. The downside is that soft core colored pencils are a bit unforgiving in terms of erasing. You can never erase completely, and manual erasers tend to smudge the pencil, rather than lifting it off the paper. This is where the battery operated eraser becomes so important, because it will effortlessly lift off multiple layers of pencil.

That being said, a hint of color will always remain on the paper, and erasing becomes a different process with soft core colored pencils. Rather than eliminating or correcting mistakes, erasing is a step in refining your drawing. It removes material that will later need to be replaced with new layers of pencil. In some cases, there is no way around having to start over completely. Some errant marks simply cannot be covered.

This can definitely be a little frustrating, especially if you’re new to colored pencils. It requires a bit more planning ahead in your initial sketches. I’ve gotten used to the limitations of erasing mistakes and instead rely more on my battery operated eraser as a drawing tool. While the pencils add material and create values, the eraser removes material and creates highlights. This is an invaluable technique for making a bounce of light. Once the darker values are in place, you can erase and then fill in with a white or a light colored pencil to create a dramatic highlight.

Battery operated erasers come with removable eraser heads that are easily replaced when they wear down. A useful trick I’ve discovered is that I can shape the tip of the eraser by holding it at an angle and buzzing it against a piece of artist’s sandpaper. This creates a finer eraser point for creating tiny highlights, such as a bounce of light on an eye.

Once you accept and overcome the limitations of erasing soft core colored pencils, your battery operated eraser will become your best friend. It’s a super drawing tool, and quite frankly, a lot of fun to use!