Techniques and Genres

Drawing with a Rubber

There are many ways you can use both the putty rubber and plastic eraser to help you make different textures in your drawings. Have a play and experiment to find different effects you can use. Remember rubbers can be used at varying stages of ‘cleanliness’ to achieve different results. The residue charcoal, chalk or graphite left on your rubber or eraser can be used to make lines. Draw with it as you would a pencil or chalk stick. Experiment to find out what kinds of lines you can make. Both rubbers and erasers achieve brilliant drawing results when they are black, dirty and you’re tempted to through them in the bin.

Older plastic erasers tend to become shiny and smooth with age – rubbish for rubbing out – but excellent for smudging your drawings.

There are many types of rubber and eraser each type you draw with will produce you a variety of different marks the softest of which is the putty rubber. You can shape putty rubbers to a point, use a corner, or mould into a suitable shape and dab the area you want to make lighter. Be careful not to make your drawing patchy. Using your rubber in a sausage shape and rolling it across the area will result in a more even tone.

​Rubber erasers are used to remove graphite marks from drawing sheets. If this eraser is used aggressively, it may damage your paper as it sheds as you rub it. Gum erasers are also known as art gum, and they are available in semi-transparent to brown colour. Gum erasers are made from rubber, but they are very soft to touch, and they don’t shed on paper. Instead, when you rub, a gum eraser crumbles, which makes it ideal for delicate papers.

Vinyl erasers are the hardest of all erasers. They are usually used by draftsmen for their neat cleaning ability. You must be very careful with these erasers, as they can easily tear through paper. Vinyl erasers can remove the toughest of marks, even ink. Pencil erasers are known as erasils. They are made up of vinyl and they come in pencil form. They are ideal for small details because you can sharpen them like a normal pencil to suit your need. As erasils are made of vinyl, they can damage your paper if you don’t use them carefully.

You can also draw by subtraction (ie: from dark to light). This technique works well with willow charcoal. Cover a page with a mid – dark tone of charcoal and use rubbers or erasers to ‘rub out’ the charcoal to achieve different tones of ‘highlights’. Blu tack is great for this technique. Because Blu tack is so sticky it lifts the charcoal dust directly off the page without smudging it further into the paper. It enables you to get many different tones of grey while still getting a clean white tone from the clean paper (if you remove all the charcoal).