How to use Eraser tool in Illustrator tutorial

How to use the eraser tool in Adobe Illustrator to split paths, remove parts of a path etc for vector designs for CC 2018 2017 2015 CS6 etc.

Eraser tool in Illustrator

how to use eraser 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 Illustrator toolbar and set the options for random size and angle etc

  4. Cut through selected paths


Video tutorial on the subject by (youtube)


Location : iconYou can find the eraser tool in the toolbar near the top just below the paintbrush (blob).


It is very similar to the calligraphic as well as blob but instead of adding, it removes parts of path or paths.


Works on many objects : typeIt works on selected paths. It works on many types of paths but if it does not work then you may have to expand the artwork via the object menu or in the case of an image you can trace the image and then use it to cut into a path


Expand the type via the object menu and expand and then just apply over and over the type to create distressed and rough type in seconds.


Settings : panelDouble click the Illustrator eraser tool icon to see the settings - you will see the following entries in the dialog along with a not particularly useful display of dots






Use the up and down keys to move the value up or down for the selected value or enter an angle such as 45 degrees etc


Randomization : Within those settings you have also options to add pressure, random etc and variation (though I must admit, it would be more useful if it was a range of randomization instead of a single value). If you set the setting to fixed, you will not see the random feature. If you select the random option, you will see a variation from 0 upwards.


Other options include pressure and stylus and tilt etc but these are of no use if you are just using a mouse.


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Angle / roundness setting : angleAngle has no effect if the roundness is set to 100% when it comes to the Illustrator eraser tool. The angle only changes when you have roundness set to less than 100%.


You can also modify the angle and the roundness interactively via the left side circle in the panel. Squeeze the two dots on the edge of the circle to modify the roundness and click and rotate the icon to change the angle setting (personally, prefer just to enter the value 45 degrees etc)


Variation : variationThe variation is per stroke and not, sadly, during the stroke itself so the entire application of the cut will not result in any variation of size or roundness.


The variation only kicks in the next time you use it.



Size : sizeThe size setting allows for small cuts; a large setting allow for the removal of whole chunks of the paths or the entire path.


You can use the it to remove parts of the path by brushing over the entire artwork but this is a lot harder to do than just deleting it normally and it is quite easy to leave fragments of paths behind.


Straight lines : grid linesThere is only a single modifier supplied with the Illustrator eraser tool. 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 also hold down the shift and create multiple straight lines through the path.


If you select a rectangle, you can then use it with the shift key to create a grid.


Simply apply multiple straight line removes through the rectangle (perhaps keeping the same size or varying the size of the removal line) to create all kinds of wonderful grids. All number of grids can be created using this approach. You can also re-color the individual parts of the grid design.


Doodles : doodles You can apply it as a doodle through the whole path. Select a path and then apply the stroke and doodle through the path. You can then stop and change the size and continue with the removal of the path


Once you have finished applying your random lines through the path (such as a circle) you will then find that have 100s of new paths and they can all be re-colored individually or perhaps add new strokes or simply delete parts of the design.


Open and closed paths : openYou can use it with open as well as closed paths. You can pass through the open lines and split the paths into two new open paths and so on


If the open line paths include something like a width profile then you can see the result on the right with the profile added to both sides of the cut lines. Applying over and over, the result will be a lot of extra lines in your design


Live effects : liveYou can apply live effects to the artworks and then apply the stroke. Each part of the split path will be re-generated with the live effects such as bevels or blurs.


Some live effects will not result in the expected result though.


As they are live effects, you can go and select each path in turn and change the setting such as the zigzag on the right.


Apply the live effect to the artwork and then go to the Illustrator eraser tool and apply and cut through the designs in countless ways - use to create a vast number of designs


Parts of a path: colorOnce you have cut the design, you can easily remove parts of the path or use them in different colors etc


You can select each path in turn and re-color or perhaps use with the live paint bucket.


You can also change all the colors on mass using color guide and adjust color balance found in the edit menu.


Comics : comicUse the feature to create interesting comic book panels and borders. You can select a basic white filled rectangle with black border and then apply over the design and create a very loose panel grid.


You can also hold the shift key down to create straight lines at 45 degrees or 90 degrees.


You can then fill the panels with pre-existing art using clipping masks or perhaps just draw into the individual panels.


Frames : frameYou can use it to cut into frame designs and add a quick distressed look to the frame


Go around the entire path (and it does not need to be a square) and add the strokes to the edge to cut into the path. Use randomization to create different sizes of lines added to the work


Saving the artwork : Once you have created your design the artwork can then be saved to the symbols library and the design can be used as a new symbol instance. You can also save the artwork to the CC library and the design is then stored safely on the Adobe server. You can then also use the generated graphic in other applications such as Photoshop and Adobe Indesign and Adobe After Effects. You can also use the file save command and save the design for use in AI format (in such as Painter) and SVG format (you can then add the artwork to a web page in seconds and use the vector format with any size of page). You can also use the file export command to save the cut and distressed artwork to a PNG format or PSD or JPG and then use the same artwork in Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer and GIMP and PaintShop pro etc


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