How to use Eraser tool in illustrator

In this Illustrator Lesson, I will explain, ‘How to use Eraser Tool in illustrator’. Eraser tool with Scissors tool and Knife are a great combination to use while creating digital illustrations.

My name is Lalit Adhikari and I’m a blogger at LTY. Let’s dive into our topic.

When you are working with any brush tools (Paintbrush or Blob brush) in Illustrator then the best tool for editing your artwork is the eraser tool.



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Eraser tool

eraser tool in illustrator
Eraser Tool

The shortcut for the eraser tool is Shift + E

eraser used on a path in illustrator
Erased a Blob Brush stroke using Eraser Tool

Here, I have a blob brush stroke that I just drew and when I applied the eraser tool then you can see that it cuts through the blob brush stroke.

Anchor points after using eraser tool in illlustrator
Anchor points after using Eraser Tool

If you select the stroke you can see that the eraser tool has curved these strokes into individual closed shapes. Therefore, it is great to work on closed paths like I’ve made above with the blob brush tool.

If you double click the eraser tool you will see all these familiar options for changing the size, roundness, and angle.

So, it’s quite similar to a brush tool option dialogue box. And after you are done with the eraser tool settings you can click the ‘OK’ button to close the dialogue box.

Another shortcut for changing the size of the eraser tool is using the bracket keys ( ). The left bracket key is for decreasing the tip size and increasing the tip size.


How to use eraser tool in illustrator

You don’t have to select any path or shape to use it. It will erase anything (Shape, path, and anchor points) on the layer if it is not locked. But there are few things that you can’t do with an eraser tool such as text and imported images.

To erase a text layer you first need to convert it into outlines and then the erase tool can be applied. You can also limit what you want to erase by selecting the objects that you want to erase by selection tools.

So, in between many shapes when you apply the eraser tool, only the selected shape will get erased.

eraser tool used on a rectangle shape in illustrator
After using Eraser Tool on a shape

If you apply the eraser tool on the shapes like this (see the image) which has a stroke and fill then the eraser tool will create separate individual shapes and the stroke and the fill will get reapplied to the individual shapes.

Or you can also say the shape gets re-rendered.

And like other drawing tools like brush tools, holding Shift key constrains the angle you are drawing to 45 and 90 degrees so you can make perfectly straight lines with the eraser tool.

If you hold down the Alt key on your keyboard then this will let you work with the Eraser Tool in a rectangular marquee fashion. If you hold both Alt and Shift key together and apply the eraser tool you will have a square marquee eraser.

Another thing to remember here is that an eraser is not a very good match for paintbrush stokes because of its re-rendering behavior.

paths erased by eraser tool in illustrator
Eraser Tool used on a Paintbrush stroke

Here, there are a few strokes drawn with the paintbrush tool. And when you will apply eraser tool over these stokes then you can see how the stroke gets re-rendered and the brush stroke loses its individual width variation.

Note: The best tool for erasing the paintbrush path is a scissors tool which is in the fly-out menu under the eraser tool option which doesn’t drastically change the width of the stroke.


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Scissors Tool

Scissors Tool in illustrator
Scissors Tool

If you click and hold the eraser tool option you can find the scissors tool in its fly-out menu. The shortcut key for this tool is C.

After you select this option you can hover over your shape and make a click with your mouse or graphics pen to wherever you want to place the cut.

Scissors tool used on ellipse shape in illustrator
Scissors Tool used on a shape

So, if you make two cuts like I did on the circle, then you can drag out the small cut path from the main circle by the selection tool. Therefore, it acts just like how a pair of scissors would act on real life.


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Knife Tool

Knife tool in illustrator
Knife Tool in illustrator

This is the last option in the fly-out menu of the eraser tool. The main difference between this tool and other tools in the eraser tool fly-out menu is that it only works on closed paths.

So, before applying the knife tool make sure that your shape is a closed path.

To use the knife tool, you first need to select the shape that you want to cut with the direct selection tool. Then select the knife tool, click away from the object, hold and while moving your mouse or graphics pen draw a cut line.

You can’t change the path of the cut after you’ve applied the cut and thus you get two separate shapes.


If you are following our Free Illustrator Lessons and Tutorial Guide, then next you should read about, ‘How to use Pen Tool in illustrator‘.


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29 thoughts on “How to use Eraser tool in illustrator”

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