How To Remove A Dark Spot From Drawing Paper

Take these steps to remove stubborn spots from your drawing paper.

I’m a little obsessive about my drawing paper. I’m not happy until the borders are spotless, but little bits of graphite, eraser crumbs, and other things manage to find their way there, even when I’ve masked the edges. If the speck of stuff is the least bit oily, dragging an eraser over it can smudge it and make it even harder to get rid of!

These are the steps I follow to get rid of those hideous spots on my paper. I sincerely hope you never have spots, but if you do, don’t panic, count to ten, and give these steps a try.

My thoughts about supplies are at the bottom of the page.

Patience is key. ~~~ Work slowly. ~~~ Work gently.

1. Before you touch the spot, see if you can blow some of it away with a blow-bulb. (Don’t try to blow it away with your breath. You might spit on the paper and cause even more problems. Trust me on this: invest in a blow bulb.)

2. Next, lightly tap the spot with a kneaded eraser that’s been pinched into a point. Remove as much of the spot as you can by tapping it, not scrubbing or rubbing. Renew the pinched point often, by folding it over, so that you’re working with a clean eraser every few taps.

3. After you’ve gently lifted as much of the spot as you can with tapping, expose another new clean area on the kneaded eraser and lightly stroke it over the area several times.

4. Now lightly rub the spot with a clean vinyl eraser a couple of times and check for any smudging. If the spot hasn’t smudged, you can put more pressure on the eraser. Give it several good scrubs with the eraser.

5. If the vinyl eraser doesn’t remove the spot to your satisfaction, go over it with a battery powered eraser. (Again, make sure the eraser nib is clean.) The nibs are made of vinyl, so they’re pretty safe to use on paper, but they spin very quickly, so go about this in stages.

The trick is to shorten the nib enough so that it won’t wobble, but leaving it long enough so you aren’t in danger of gouging the paper with the gizmo that holds the nib in the eraser’s body.  You get lots of action per seconds of eraser time, so check to see how things are going frequently.

5 (Alternate) I’ve had some success lifting most of a greasy stain off of Arches watercolor paper, after going though steps 1 thru 4, with a Perfection Eraser. (Read more about this below.)

This eraser is made of very stiff ‘stuff,’ and I may have even been rubbing away some of the paper, but this spot was on the border and I wanted it GONE! I went over the area very lightly, using a circular rubbing motion, for several minutes. It did not leave a visible difference in the texture of the paper, although I’m sure it did change the texture in reality.

6. If the spot is still there after all your attempts, and it’s not too big and you are desperate, you can try “cutting” it out. Put a new clean blade in a small Exact-o knife and use the tip to carefully “pick out” the spot. This does leave a tiny mark in the paper so you’ll have to decide if you’d rather have the dark spot or a tiny marred spot. (This maneuver takes practice so try it on a scrap piece of the same paper first.)

Supply Thoughts

I’m a Blick affiliate and if you buy from my links I get some money, so thank you very much if you do.

bulb syringeThis is a ‘bulb syringe,’ and what I call a ‘blow bulb.’ It works great for blowing specks of dirt and eraser crumbs off of drawing paper. You can pick one up in the drugstore for just a few bucks. I really don’t want to talk about the things they’re actually used for. You can look that up for yourself if you want to know, and I’m going to keep calling them blow bulbs, mkay?

I use Faber-Castell Kneaded Erasers. They’re easy to pinch into shapes and they lift dirt and crumbs (and graphite) well. And I prefer the Alvin Vinyl Eraser because it crumbles well, which means it’s not prone to smearing.

The Helix Electric Eraser has a tapered ergonomic shape that stays out of your way, and it’s inexpensive. If you’ve never used an electric eraser before, get extra nibs.

perfection-eraserThe Faber-Castell Perfection Eraser is a pencil shaped eraser meant for erasing ink, so you do have to be careful when using it on art paper because it can eat right through the surface. However, as I mentioned in alternative step 5, it worked well for me for spot removal purposes. This eraser has a white core.

They do have a Perfection Eraser meant for pencil with a pink core. That’s not the one I’m talking about.

If you do have to resort to cutting out a spot, please don’t try it with a rusty blade that’s been in your x-acto knife forever. Get a new precision blade to do it with. This X-Acto #1 knife set come with a few blades, and one of them tapers down to a good slim tip that lets you to see what you’re doing, and it’s cheap.

Good luck!
Carol