How To Quickly Clean a Messy Drawing

Mackenzie Swenson
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Duration:   2  mins

Drawing often starts with blocking in, broad gestural movements, or other lightly sketched lines. Artist Mackenzie Swenson finds that whenever she starts a drawing, she quickly has lines that are obsolete, too dark, or even smudged on her paper from where her hand may have dragged across the drawing. But she doesn’t worry because Mackenzie knows how to gradually lighten those extra graphite marks quickly and easily so that she keeps only the information she wants. Mackenzie lightens all the marks on the drawing at once, which allows her to continue to refine her drawing.

Mackenzie uses a kneaded eraser, which is an eraser you can manipulate by rolling, pinching, or stretching it into whatever shape you want. Mackenzie says if she were to use a traditional eraser and rub it back and forth across her drawing, she would risk dragging the graphite across the paper making the problem worse. However, Mackenzie rolls her kneaded eraser into the shape of a rolling pin and then rolls that eraser over the entire paper. This technique evenly lightens all the lines and doesn’t displace graphite from one area to another. Mackenzie’s wispy lines mostly disappear and everything else gets a little lighter but is still visible. The lines and details she wants remain, while the light gestural marks she may have laid down early in the process are gone. Once this is done, the paper is now ready to receive another stage of refinements. Mackenzie says she can now make more specific decisions about her drawing without fighting the graphite already on the paper.