Pencil and eraser – Digital Art Journey part 1

In the previous post I introduce a couple of specialty brushes I customized to do very specific types of drawings, clouds and pines, this time I would like to demonstrate a single brush, but most important a very useful and in my humble opinion very cool feature on Krita that often gets misunderstood; The Eraser Mode.


I’ve been drawing since I can remember, and back in my days on high school I got to see a classmate using an eraser to “draw”, practically used as highlighter, avoiding the need to be “neat” on the highlights and simply coming back to them and apply a lighter shade by erasing with different pressure depending on the needs. To me was an eye opener, never saw anyone else approaching drawing in that fashion, but some would considered a “bad” way of drawing for not taking care of empty spaces as you shade, other would just say it was a bad habit and it wasn’t a “clean” approach. I personally thought it was rather clever, and after that I pursued the “Eraser Drawing Technique” with what I thought to be in part my own invention, used to draw full shapes on fully shaded sheets, and the ability to just turn the pencil and “fix” detail.

Long story short, I didn’t invent, as is obvious, drawing in “negative” form, as a young adult, decade and a half ago, came across more than one book that explained this techniques and demonstrate how old (centuries if i remember correctly) they were.


Taking away from my mind the stigma of those “correct” ways of drawings, not been afraid of an eraser and in turn using it as a tool rather than a correction only item, it has giving me quite a freedom in my lines, what a neat surprise was to find out this principle in Krita itself, I took me a couple of hours to understand the way Krita uses Eraser Mode, coming from GIMP I, like many, many others was expecting a dedicated tool for it, but once I notice the way Krita erasers, everything else fell in place.

I am a person that struggles with wobbly lines, and although they seem decorative at times, personally prefer neater strokes, thus I constantly on the undo key (in my setup as “z” rather than “Ctrl+z”) until I’m happy with the line, here the Eraser mode comes to the rescue, used as touch up tool, maintaining the same brush tip characteristics allows for a uniform look, this is, trying to touch up a line done with some texture and randomness with a totally different brush tip wouldn’t be visually appealing, thus if I draw with a “pencil” preset, I can with the press of a key (“e”) switch the mode and then erase with the same stroke of that same pencil.

Many people feel that this is lacking an actual eraser, the true is that Krita not only offers you an eraser with almost every single preset (preset is the way a full brush is called in Krita), but now thanks to the introduction of new features, one can have one or more eraser only brushes within the reach of the stylus and or key shortcut, much faster and practical than changing to a total different tool.

The Dreams Catcher

Usually I like to approach each art tool in its own way, taking in account its advantages and limitations. When it comes to digital painting, my personal preference is to paint in ways I just can’t in traditional media, my digital drawings are influenced by vintage posters and illustrations where artist painfully managed to be very neat in their lines, edges and colors. Non the less, I’ve seen some artist approaching Krita the way they would do in traditional paintings with very interesting results.

When I was customizing the presets on my Krita bundle, the feeling of the brush was less important to me than the effect of the stroke, thus although my pencil doesn’t feel like a pencil, it does draw like one, and because is one of the presets I use the most, I decided to make an illustration to put it on a test and find out what can be done with it. The Dreams Catcher is done using the same technique I use with my pencils and eraser.

I start by doing a “skeleton” for some proportions to fit, I’m not an anatomy perfectionist and I do like my characters to have unreal bodies, still some basic body “caging” does go a long way. Once I settle for the overall composition, I go ahead and create a painting layer(s) over the sketch, very basic drawing technique I think every one does.

For this illustration I kept all the drawing in a single layer, the reason was not to challenge myself, but to force me to use the eraser a bit more than usual, remember this is a test after all. I like to use different cross hatching styles and methods, I think that by varying them, the overall look of the illustrations feels “rich”. Among those, I started using a shading technique with continuous strokes, this gives a very nice and shiny look to features such as hair and unlike usual hatching, there is no crossing in this one, and as you may supposed, I also used the eraser in the same manner for a negative effect.

Finally, I used extra layers to apply black color to the drawing in a nondestructive way, one of the main benefits of digital art, using my main preset, simple brush with simple features such as “Alpha Inheritance”, is like using an stencil in the opposite direction, every pixel underneath the layer in use, would be the only area that would show. For more information about layers you can check the Krita manual.

For questions and comments, you can find me on my socials or just email me, (just click the bars button on the right top corner of the screen).