Real life applications are a bit more permanent.

As you’re working on a project in Photoshop or Illustrator, how many times have you hit Command + Z (Control + Z for the Windows users)? It’s second nature, and if it wasn’t for it being the key combination to undo, you wouldn’t know where the Z key is on the keyboard.

Think about it. As you work on a project on the computer, you have a safe cushion that allows you to work and undo as you please. You can experiment a little to see if you like something and if you decide you want to revert back to the previous spot you had that Bezier curve handle, you just hit undo.

You use it so much on the computer, you wish you could use it outside of the computer, but unfortunately things are a little more permanent in the real world.

As you draw with pencil, you feel like you’re in a similar safe zone because you can erase, but you need to stop feeling like the eraser is going to save you.

Act like working in pencil is like working in pen

As you work in pencil, you make a mistake, you erase and move on. There are a lot of times that’s ok, but what happens when you finish erasing, you can’t just undo what you did. You permanently erased what you had drawn. You can’t bring it back at the push of a button.

What I’m getting at is the eraser is just as permanent as a pen and sometimes you can get a little too liberal when erasing that you end up erasing something that you wish you could get back.

You might not even realize it until after you have started drawing, but you think to yourself, “I wish I wouldn’t have erased that last sketch.”

You need to get rid of the feeling that the eraser is going to save you.

Start thinking of your pencil like a permanent marker.

So put the eraser away. I have a better solution for you.

Replace your eraser with tracing paper


Instead of erasing large chunks of your drawing that you’ll regret doing later, pull out a sheet of tracing paper and trace over the parts of your drawing that you know you want to keep. Don’t worry about doing every detail at this point, just lock in the general shapes so you don’t spend too much time on something you’ve already done and you still have that new idea fresh in your mind.

Now, put the original drawing to the size and on the tracing paper, draw out your new idea.

There. Now you have two versions of your drawing without the feeling like you shouldn’t have erased so much.

Yes, I understand that it takes more time to redraw. You could easily just erase what you didn’t want and draw over it, but I guarantee you the time you save will be wasted at some point as you try to recreate what you erased. You wish you wouldn’t have erased and you get the feeling that the new drawing isn’t quite the same as the previous one, but you just can’t figure out why.

Canson Tracing Paper

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There are some more than reasonable times to use your eraser. Erasing light sketch marks as you’re feeling out a curve or erasing the guide lines for your letters and circles are perfect reasons to bring out the eraser.

Use the eraser for cleaning up drawings, not erasing major parts of your drawing.

Realize that once you erase, you aren’t going to be able to hit Command + Z to get back your drawing. It’s gone. Forever.


If you want to take it to another level, just start working in pen! Yeah, I don’t really like to do this either. The pencil still gives you a sense of security that each stroke isn’t so permanent because in the back of your mind, you know an eraser can fix any wrong stroke.

But try this:

For the next week, I want you to put the pencil away and only use a pen. It could be a ballpoint pen, or a Sharpie, or even a Crayola marker. Challenge yourself to not have the feeling that at any time you can grab the eraser and undo.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s how we learn. Besides, there’s always tracing paper to help you get back on track.

Afraid to make one more stroke? Can’t tell if it’s going to be too much? Get out the tracing paper and experiment.

Seriously, stop using that eraser so much, and start tracing!

After your week of only using pen, let me know how it went. I’d love to hear how your week went and how or if you started to draw differently.

Did you stop drawing so many lines?

Did you find that you were tracing a lot?

Come back to this page and leave me a note. It comes straight to my inbox and I will reply to you there. I’m excited to hear about your experience!

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