The eraser may seem like the most straightforward tool at an artist’s disposal: erasers remove marks and lines, simple as that. But, in fact there are a number of different types of erasers designed for different purposes and different materials.

Pink erasers are fairly stiff, solid and sometimes come on the ends of pencils. They were once made out of pink colored rubber. Now they’re usually mixtures of rubber and synthetic plastics, and they’re not always pink.

White erasers and brightly colored are usually made from vinyl. Vinyl is soft so it does not damage paper. Vinyl also wears well, so erasers last a long time and can be shaped to specific angles by deliberately wearing down one side. White vinyl erasers are sometimes called ‘self-cleaning erasers’ because even when they are covered with a black coating of graphite or charcoal on the outside, they can be restored to their original white color simply by rubbing them on sheet of scrap paper.

Pink and white erasers are best suited to clearing large areas of graphite from thicker paper. Although quality brands of pink and white erasers are most often problem free, they can each have their downfalls when not used carefully. Pink erasers can be abrasive and may wear out or even tear thinner pages. White erasers can cause smudging, especially if they have picked up oils from hands and fingers.

White vinyl erasers have a long life span, but old pink erasers eventually dry out and stop working correctly. Sometimes they’ll even leave unsightly pink streaks. So, always have a fresh one on hand.