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Eraser tool in Illustrator tutorial, how to use

erase tool Illustrator toolbar
  1. Select the eraser tool in the Illustrator toolbar

  2. Select a path or multiple paths

  3. Double click the eraser tool in the toolbar and set the options for random size and angle etc

  4. Cut through selected paths

How to use the eraser tool in Adobe Illustrator to split paths, remove parts of a path etc for vector designs for CC 2017 2015 CS6 etc. The eraser tool can be used with many different paths in Illustrator. The eraser tool is very sumilar to the blob and calligraphic tools but instead, it removes parts of a path etc and splits the paths. The eraser tool can be found just below the paintbrush tool in the toolbar. Double click to see the settings for the eraser tool. You can change the angle, roundness etc as well as add some element of randomness to the eraser tool. You can use the Illustrator eraser tool with a single path or multiple paths (selected or not but I generally select them). You can hold the shift key down to erase in a straight line. You can erase as a brush and apply as a doodle and cut through any path. You can use the eraser tool in Illustrator to create grids and tables out a rectangle or other Illustrator path. You can use the eraser with type but you will first have to expand the type. You can cut through open paths as well with the eraser tool. You can also create interesting path designs using the eraser tool with live effects and splitting the graphic styles. You can use the tool to create interesting distressed frames for your artwork. You can also make subtle random cuts (of a 1000 knives) into any path by using the Illustrator eraser tool. This tutorial shows you a number of ways how you can use the eraser tool in Illustrator such as cutting into paths and expanded type as well as creating doodles and frames and grids with the tool.

Basics of eraser tool

You can find the eraser tool in the toolbar of Illustrator near the top just below the paintbrush tool (blob). The eraser tool is very similar to the calligraphic brush as well as blob brush but instead of adding, it removes or erases paths. Double click the tool's icon to see the settings


It works on selected paths. It works on many types of paths but some have to be expanded or in the case of images, traced. Just select the Illustrator eraser tool and apply to the selected item. If it does nothing then the type of path is not editable by the eraser.

Eraser tool settings / options

settings for the tool such as size and roundness etc
  1. Angle

  2. Roundness

  3. Size


Within those you have also options to add pressure, random etc and add variation (though I must admit, it would be more useful if it was a range of randomization instead of a single value). Angle has no effect if the roundness is set to 100%. The angle only changes when you have roundness set to less than 100%. The variation is also per stroke and not, sadly, during the stroke of the eraser tool. The size allows for small erase as well as a huge erase (the whole path even)

Eraser tool and paths / multiple paths / modifiers

  1. go to the toolbar and select the eraser tool in Illustrator

  2. Select a path or multiple paths

  3. apply the eraser tool through the paths (as required)


You can hold the shift key down to erase in a straight line. You can erase in small strokes, perhaps add cuts to the edge of a path; you can erase using a doodle or curves throughout the path; set the erase tool size large and then erase a whole chunk or part of path or perhaps straight through the center.

Erase tool doodle

eraser tool and smaller doodles in Illustrator

You can select the erase tool and just apply it as a doodle through the whole path


  1. select the erase tool

  2. select path

  3. apply stroke - while you apply the curved brush strokes, the brush stroke will be displayed as white. Once you stop, you will see through the paths to the background

  4. Each of those paths can now be selected and moved or you can continue to apply additional curves and erase to those (perhaps setting the size to a smaller size) such as on the right. You can also see that the paths are now separate from the original circle and have been filled with a new color and the doodled line was applied with a much smaller size than the original erase doodle. You can now separate all the individual parts of the paths and perhaps position them throughout the artboard and perhaps fill them with different colors etc

Erase tool and grid using shift key

eraser tool and grid and shift key in Illustrator brown table

You can use the erase tool in Illustrator to create a very quick and more randomly split grid design by using the tool and holding down the shift key as you apply the erase.


  1. select the tool

  2. select a rectangle

  3. hold down the shift key and apply tool to the selected path

  4. apply all the way across and up and down and left to right to create separate rectangles or a grid of paths (of course, you can split separate cells without going all of the rectangle so start or end only over a cell or two to split those)

Erasing parts of a path

You don't need to just split paths, you can totally remove a chunk of a path. Say you have a rectangle (or any path) and you don't want the corners, you can remove them (or perhaps if you want a path split in two with a large gap)


  1. select path

  2. select eraser tool

  3. set size to a very large size

  4. apply over the corners.

You can cut through all kinds of paths and lop off a corner or two.

Eraser tool and type

erased type using different sizes through the page of text in Illustrator

You cannot use it with type but you can expand the type


  1. type something

  2. keep selected

  3. object menu and expand

  4. apply eraser tool


You can apply with an entire page of type or perhaps just a single word.


You can also use it with multiple selected expanded text / type but the key thing is that the type has been expanded otherwise the tool will just pass over the type and be ignored. You may need to ungroup the type via the object menu if you wish to use the artworks as separate paths (such as adding random color fills etc).

With images

The tool cannot be used with images, if you want to use them with images you will have to use the trace tool and trace the artwork and then expand that and then you can apply the tool and split paths etc

Use with lines and open paths

curvature tool paths broken

You can also use the Illustrator eraser tool with open paths (as well as closed paths)


  1. create an open path using the pen tool (or select an open path)

  2. go to the eraser tool in the toolbar

  3. Apply the tool across the lines


The lines or curves can have brushes / width profiles etc attached and they will be split and re-applied according to the new lengths of lines. The image on the left - the top path is the original and the split path via the eraser tool is the bottom set of paths and you can see the width profile has been added to those now. The image on the right was created using the curvature tool and then the paths were split apart by using a large sized eraser tool stroke (or two) to create multiple curved open paths.


It appears that the tool does not turn an open path into a closed path nor a closed path into an open path.

Use with live effects / appearance

live effects added to paths such as dusk in Illustrator
  1. select a path

  2. apply a graphic style to it such as one of the default graphic styles 'dusk' or add a live effect Via the effects menu) or create a style via the appearance panel with multiple effects etc

  3. select

  4. use the eraser tool to cut through the path


In many cases, you will get two or more paths with a very similar live effect / style added though, of course, there will be instances where that is not possible and the result will be fairly different after application of the eraser tool in Illustrator (transform tool with multiple copies being one example)

Distress frames / edges and eraser tool

distress frame using eraser tool

You can use the tool to create interesting frames / distressed frames and edges


  1. Select the rectangle tool and create a large rectangle

  2. repeat but slightly small and align in the center with the previous

  3. select both and use the pathfinder panel and minus front - you now have a very basic frame (of course, if you want an edge to a standard path, you don't need the two rectangles)

  4. eraser tool

  5. settings, set the size to random and set the default size and variation (as required)

  6. apply multiple times and you should see the eraser tool cutting into the frame with different sizes (you can also set the angle and roundness and gave the angle change randomly as well as roundness change also)

Random cuts into path

random cuts into the path

You don't need to apply the tool as a long continious stroke, you can just click the path in different locations to fill the design with holes or cuts. You can set up some randomness to the cuts and holes as well (though you don't need to but to create random cuts, add some randomness)


  1. Create a path such as rectangle in Illustrator

  2. Select the eraser tool

  3. Go to the settings and set the angle to random and set to maximum 180 + set the size to random as well with 7pt and 7pt random and set roundness to 20%

  4. Click anywhere multiple times over the path


You should now be filled with something like a very hole filled path / design (obviously not exactly matching the one on the left). The cuts are at different angles and sizes. You can now see through the path to the background color.

Other tutorials

1. Blend tool and making multiple paths in Illustrator tutorial

2. Dotted lines in Illustrator, how to create

3. Dynamic symbols in Illustrator

4. Flare tool in Illustrator for dramatic rays and haloes

5. Curvature tool in Illustrator for great curves

6. Line segment tool / live lines and paths in Illustrator

7. Symbol stipplism plugin tool in Illustrator

8. How to cut a circle in half in Illustrator

Other resources

1. torus fonts and eps shapes and curve designs

2. triradial three way fonts shapes and eps artworks set for PSP, Pages etc and Illustrator

Sources and references

1. Eraser tool in Adobe Illustrator on