Erasing Non-Photo Blue Pencil
February 4, 2015 3:35 PM   Subscribe

My drawing style has been black ink over non-photo blue scanned in as line art until recently. Now I want to watercolor my drawings, but still start them with blue pencil. I'm having a heck of time erasing my the non-photo blue pencil marks, though. I've tried hi-polymer and artgum erasers. Usually I'm on watercolor paper. The erasers don't work well and I sometimes tear the paper. How is this done? Do I need a better eraser or to wash on another layer or something?
posted by 10ch to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It doesn't always erase. You can try an electric eraser; they vibrate at a high speed and are sometimes more gentle. Also try to "Moo" brand white polymer erasers.

If you are working digitally, the lines can be removed as part of scanning. If you're not, my usual solution is to go in with a white masking liquid where I need to cover stubborn lines, then paint over that. When I was designing for black and white high-contrast Xeroxing, I also just cut out the places I wanted to be white and re-pasted before going to copy. If you can't erase, cover or remove.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:54 PM on February 4, 2015

Uh, non photo blue pencil isn't really designed to erase. Watercolor paper is often meant to be stretched while damp and then dried, and the texture of the paper is kind of important. You'll destroy that trying to rub out oily pencil lines.
Either A. *Lightly* sketch on the paper with a hard graphite pencil so it stays like a 2H or a 4H (don't press hard. Seriously. Light)
Or b. Use a softer, dark pencil (maybe a hb or a 2b) and draw a mirror image on the back of the paper, and then paint on top of a light box. The problem with this option is you can't streach the paper.
posted by Blisterlips at 4:08 PM on February 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

You need to transfer your drawing onto the watercolor paper after first drawing it on something else. You could use a lightbox for this, use carbon & transfer paper, or you could get a printer that won't bend your watercolor paper, digitally scan & clean up & print that onto the watercolor paper, although you need to make sure your printer ink of choice will play nicely with your watercolors. You can get lots of really interesting effects this way. Mostly, though, do your blues on another thin paper, dark linework on top of that to refine, then transfer that onto your final paper. No blue on the watercolor paper. It's too fragile.
posted by Mizu at 4:21 PM on February 4, 2015

Prismacolor makes a non photo blue pencil that is presumably meant to be erasable, coming with an eraser on the end of it and all. You could try that, but it doesn't address the issues of watercolour paper raised by the posters above.
posted by rodlymight at 4:34 PM on February 4, 2015

Another method is to do your penciling (on any paper, in regular pencil), scan them in, and print out onto watercolor paper, in very very light grey or blue. Depending on your end style (how precise your penciling is, how heavy/wide your inking is, if you're doing a light wash of watercolors or a full multilayer painting, if you're able/willing to digitally clean up the pencils, etc) this might not suit you, but I know that at least 2 of my artist friends use this method.
posted by aimedwander at 4:43 PM on February 4, 2015

We used to use white gouache for things like this.

Another good option worth trying is using Golden's absorbent ground (or similar). It'll let you cover your markings--it's quite opaque--and still take wet media on top once dry.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:44 PM on February 4, 2015

Eh, I think trying to paint with white or ground over your blue lines will just look awkward. Use a light box. Non-photo blue isn't intended to be used this way; it's for black and white drawings that will be reproduced.
posted by the_blizz at 5:03 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's also wax-free graphite transfer paper or the age-old trick of going over the back of your linework/photocopy with a soft graphite pencil, and then embossing the graphite onto your watercolor paper by retracing your linework with a ballpoint.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:08 PM on February 4, 2015

Ok, I'm about to share a secret. I use one of these. They're "erasable" because you can rub them with the pointless hard plastic end but what makes the lines disappear is the friction. Now here's my secret; I do my line art, try not to press hard if you don't want lines left over, then I finish my picture (I've done this with acrylic paint & copic markers, on various papers including water colour paper), then I blow with a hair dryer. THE HEAT MAKES THE LINES DISAPPEAR. No rubbing. No wrecking your paper. Doesn't have to be super hot. Of course you do this when your paint is dry. I've only used the frixion ball point so I don't know if other things in the range work the same way.

I thought I was such a genius when I worked this out. I can draw whatever I want, test ideas, change my mind, then just blow away anything I don't want.
posted by stellathon at 9:13 PM on February 4, 2015 [7 favorites]

My mother is a professional watercolor illustrator. She says, "Prismacolor doesn't erase from WC paper or print paper because the pencil is slightly waxy, and the paper is soft enough that it gets etched by the point. Better to use a graphite or pastel pencil that can be erased with a kneaded eraser and use a very light touch."
posted by mbrubeck at 10:29 PM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Another tip: "UHU brand adhesive is similar to kneaded eraser and you can use it to lift up pencil from soft paper like WC or print paper."
posted by mbrubeck at 11:45 AM on February 5, 2015

A watercolor classmate has one of those led light boxes; they're quite popular and I'm now craving one.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:32 AM on February 6, 2015

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