December 19, 2010

week on Comic Tools: Eraser Shields

In the course of penciling comics, sometimes you end up with little distracting lines that you want to get rid of, but they're so close to lines you want to keep that erasing one might accidentally erase the other. It's a common problem when drawing fiddly, intricate things like faces, or as I've chosen for this example, skulls.

My usual solution to this problem is to form a point on my kneaded rubber eraser and use it to erase only the lines I want gone. If you do this, make sure your point isn't long and floppy like this, or you won't be able to press on it hard enough to erase.

Make the angle of the tip as obtuse as you can, and the tip will hold up to much harder erasing before losing its shape.

However some artists, like my girlfriend, press their pencil into the paper like a marine trying to stab through body armor, and kneaded rubber erasers aren't enough. Here's her eraser, worn to a blunted nubble:

How is she to erase single lines with this, without erasing everything around them? That is where eraser shields come in. An eraser shield is just a paper-thin piece of steel slightly larger than a credit card, with holes of various shapes and sizes cut in it. You cunningly select and position the holes to mask off the lines you want gone, like so,

And then erase them.

You have to be careful about checking your placement, though,

lest you remove lines you in fact want to keep:

They really ought to make these in clear flexible plastic for better positioning. It wouldn't be too difficult to make one out of acetate, though. Any material that was thin and stiff enough would work.

Anyway, here's the cleaned pencils,

And heres the skull all inked up:

Sorry I haven't been getting to comments yet, my keyboard is broken and my spacebar has been dead all week. I've been inserting every space by copying and pasting, writing this. I have a friend with a new one, though, so hopefully that'll be sorted out soon.

See you next week!


Anonymous said...

A mighty return!

I have never seen an eraser shield. In a way it's an answered prayer! I have been trying to really refine my pencil work and I've been doing the kneaded eraser trick (sometimes with a floppy phallus).

I think you've got the right idea with the acetate. That's gotta work better than the steel--though perhaps not as sexy.

Oscar Herrero said...

I'll try to get them!

Ambassador MAGMA said...

Clear eraser shields? You're sitting on a million dollar idea, my friend!

Sarah said...

I have one of those. I'm pretty sure I've never used it. Probably because i thought it was for tracing circles and weird random tiny shapes. Boy, was I off.

Welcome back!

carrothead said...

great to have you back!

Anonymous said...

YAY! I am so happy to read this and to have you back.

Al B. Wesolowsky said...

Great to have you posting again! See the row of circular holes in the eraser shield? Lay them over a straight line, apply eraser, and presto! a dashed line.

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