How To: Master Figure Drawing By Erasing

Master Figure Drawing By Erasing

Master Figure Drawing using an Eraser

Having trouble with the human form in your figure drawing class? Or just looking to impress your girlfriend or boyfriend with your art skills with a beautiful drawing of their figure? Here is a simple tip to trick your brain into using more of the right, creative, side of your brain. 

You will need:

  • Charcoal Powder
  • A kneaded eraser
  • Drawing Paper 
  • A willing model
  • Paper Towel or Chamois 
  • A good light source


  • Black Charcoal 
  • White Charcoal

Step 1 Cover the paper with charcoal powder

Spread a thin even coat of charcoal over the paper to make it a fairly even shade of dark gray. Use the paper towel or chamois to spread the powder.

Step 2 Light the Model with emphasis on shadows

Use light to your advantage. Light the model to bring out the bodies features and natural curves.

Step 3 Form the kneaded Eraser

Knead your eraser into a comfortable shape. You will be using the eraser to draw in the light on your model. I would suggest forming a point similar to a pencil. 

Step 4 Use the Eraser to bring out the light from the paper

Start with an area of the body that your eye is drawn to by the shape the light is creating. Don't think "I'm drawing her thigh", think, "I'm drawing a long oval of light". Start by erasing the areas with only the brightest light. Remember, try to forget what you are drawing, draw shapes not body parts. 

Step 5 Start to fill (erase) in the lighter areas

Vary the pressure you apply and start to use the eraser to fade the light to dark areas of the figure. You may want to change the shape of the eraser to more of a flat tip to help make the fade more gradual. 

Step 6 Fill in some background

Using the same method, pull out some details of the model's surroundings. You don't have to draw the entire room, in fact it isn't recommended, you are drawing the model not a still life. Pull out some of the brighter parts of what the model is sitting or laying on and the rooms architecture with the eraser. A little detail goes a long way.

At this point, you can call your drawing complete! You have the option to use the white charcoal to make the highlights even brighter and the black charcoal to bring down the blacks. This can add some extra pop to your drawing. 


  • The face is very complex. Even using the erasing method a face can be tough to draw. A simple workaround is to make a very simple face with little detail. 

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