How to Remove Colored Pencil from Paper

person removing colored pencil pigment from paper. how to remove colore pencils from paper

As an experienced artist, I know the struggle of trying to remove colored pencil marks from paper.

Although it can be challenging, I've learned some helpful tricks over the years.

In this comprehensive guide, I'll share with you my top tips for getting colored pencil off paper, and offer advice on avoiding mistakes in the first place.

So let's dive in!

Why Are Colored Pencils Hard to Erase?

First, let's understand why colored pencils are so stubborn. Unlike graphite pencils, which use a graphite-based formula that can be easily erased, colored pencils contain pigments mixed with wax or oil binders. These binders adhere more strongly to paper fibers, making it difficult to remove all of the pigment. Additionally, the wax or oil can cause the pigment to spread or smudge, making it even more challenging to erase completely.

Erasing Colored Pencils: 5 Methods to Try

While you might not be able to remove colored pencil marks entirely, you can still lighten them significantly. Here are five methods to try:

  1. Use a regular eraser gently. Don't apply too much pressure, as this could damage the paper. Also, avoid erasing for too long to prevent wear on the paper's surface.

  2. Try a vinyl eraser. Vinyl erasers are known for being effective at removing pencil marks. They can often lighten colored pencil marks more successfully than regular erasers.

  3. Use tape to lift pigment. Gently press a piece of tape onto the colored pencil marks and carefully lift it away. This can help remove some of the pigment, but be cautious not to tear the paper.

  4. Consider an electric eraser. Electric erasers are more efficient at removing colored pencil marks than manual erasers. They can be a great investment for artists who frequently work with colored pencils.

  5. Cover mistakes with a white paint pen. If you've accidentally colored a small area that should have remained white, you can use a white paint pen, like a Posca PC-1MR, to clean up the edges and restore the appearance of the paper.

The Difference Between Wax and Oil-Based Colored Pencils

There is a difference in erasability between wax-based and oil-based colored pencils. Wax-based pencils are generally harder to erase, as the wax binder adheres more strongly to paper fibers. However, they can still be lightened to some extent using the methods mentioned above.

Oil-based colored pencils, on the other hand, are usually easier to erase. The oil binder is less resistant to erasing, although the pigment may smudge or spread more than with wax-based pencils. Remember that erasability can vary depending on the specific brand and formulation of colored pencils, as well as the type of paper used.

Are There Any Easily Erasable Colored Pencils?

Yes! Prismacolor Col-Erase colored pencils are designed to be more erasable than traditional colored pencils. Many artists recommend them because they are easier to remove from paper. Of course, individual results may vary, so it's always a good idea to test them out for yourself.

Tips to Avoid Mistakes with Colored Pencils

To minimize the need for erasing, try these tips:

  1. Use lighter pressure initially. Start by applying light pressure as you color. Once you're satisfied with the appearance, gradually increase pressure and add more layers. If you make a mistake, it's easier to erase lighter marks without damaging the paper.

  2. Layer your colors. Light layers allow you to cover up any mistakes more easily. As you only applied light pressure, you can still add layers of colored pencils on top to conceal any errors.

  3. Sketch with a graphite pencil first. Before using colored pencils, lightly sketch your design with a graphite pencil. This allows you to plan and make adjustments before committing to colored pencil marks.

  4. Keep your pencils sharp. A sharp pencil tip offers greater control and precision, helping you avoid mistakes. Remember to sharpen your colored pencils regularly.

  5. Take your time. Rushing through your artwork can lead to errors. Take your time and be patient while working with colored pencils to reduce the likelihood of making mistakes.

What Not to Do When Trying to Remove Colored Pencil from Paper

Avoid these common pitfalls when attempting to remove colored pencil marks:

  1. Don't use rubbing alcohol. While rubbing alcohol is a solvent, it can dissolve the pigment of colored pencils, creating a permanent stain that you can't lighten anymore.

  2. Don't use sandpaper. Sandpaper will severely damage the paper, and it's not as effective at removing colored pencil marks as a regular eraser.

How to Deal with Larger Mistakes

If you've colored a large area by mistake, you have a couple of options:

  1. Embrace the mistake. Sometimes, the best approach is to accept the error and incorporate it into your artwork. This can lead to creative solutions and a unique final piece.

  2. Modify your drawing. If the mistake significantly impacts your original vision, consider changing the design to accommodate the error. This may require some flexibility and creativity, but it can save your artwork from being ruined.

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